Tag Archives: monster

Reader response: there is nothing between us as human beings. Nothing in the way.

Dear Brent,

Thank you for taking the time to write a letter to me. To say I was moved and touched seems trite, so I hope the following will explain the scale of which your words have made a difference:

Of your entire letter, these 10 words were by far the most powerful: “I am a human. Not an animal or a predator.” It took some time to compose myself and continue reading, following the sudden realisation of this transformation (and any part that I may have played in it). What struck me was the simplicity of the sentence and the magnitude of what it must have taken to arrive there, the scale of courage… I may not agree with everything she says but Marianne Williamson, (currently running for President, I hear) once succinctly defined a miracle as: “a perceptual mindset shift from fear to love”. That’s what occurred to me after reading that sentence.

When I finished reading, something else remarkable occurred to me: that despite the geographical distance between you sat at your desk or on your bed/bunk (I imagine) and me sat here on this wooden chair in my kitchen, there is nothing between us as human beings. Nothing in the way. We have different stories, we made different choices, judgements, took different action.. etc.. but fundamentally we have the same narrative: to request to be simply seen for who we are.

When politicians use language such as “vermin” or “swarm” or “cockroach” in reference to refugees they’re effectively de-humanising people and that is what you were doing to yourself. (I imagine the outcry: I dare to compare refugees to the Brent Brents?! Yes I dare. Both found themselves lost and far from home. Deal with it.) And yet, when I read the word “predator”, my brain for some reason linked it to the word “pursuit” which I recognised immediately in myself.. my pursuit of happiness, approval, perfection, intimacy etc… In my own ravenous hunger for these things, I have subsequently put myself at risk of abuse and dishonoured myself. This is not blame. I do not blame myself for experiences of my past. Victim blaming is not the game and neither is pointing the finger of judgement in the other direction. I’m looking with curiosity not judgement. I simply ask: how have I acted following my experience of abuse? Have I passed it on.. absorbed and turned it in on myself.. or accepted that it happened, taken the lessons and stepped out of the shame and constraint? Forgiving others for abusing me is one thing, forgiving myself for how I responded is another mountain to scale. And the view at the top is worth it.

Which is how I approach my thoughts as well now. I spent many years trying to stop intrusive, vulgar, violent and otherwise uncomfortable thoughts.. However hard I tried through meditation, mindfulness, distraction… still they came these mind monsters. The effort to stop them left me exhausted, depressed and hating myself. Recently though, the penny dropped: if to think is human, maybe the meaning that I attach to the thoughts is what matters? Where once I had a thought of rage, I tended to act on it or tell myself I was a terrible person for having the thought. I get that this is how I dealt with thoughts, my very survival depended on it, so I thought. And I was wrong. Now I look all thoughts as a fleeting friend – it pops up, I notice it, tip my hat to it, and on it goes on its way. I feel no obligation whatsoever to act on it. And this is how my thoughts tend to flow through me now. I get to choose which ones I respond to, not the other way around. (and yes, I still get caught up in my thoughts sometimes, I’m human!)

Thank you for your acknowledgement, it means a lot to me. I’d like to acknowledge you for your part in my experiencing freedom from my past. As an example, I recently got to enjoy one of my favourite pastimes: skiing in the mountains. I went with a friend (male) and a friend of his (whom I didn’t know). Before reading the blog and corresponding with you I am certain this would not have happened. Indeed, I’ve refused similar offers before. I would not have allowed myself to stay with two men in this way. As it was, I had the confidence to trust, to be vulnerable and as such they were perfect gentlemen, I had an amazing time, that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. I’m still in the gym training with huge tattooed men, surrounded by banter and I’m progressing… a fortnight ago I deadlifted 100kg and squatted 70kg while listening to Pantera’s Nothing Else Matters. My hard assed coach who was watching, raised his eyebrows and chuckled to himself. I knew I’d arrived…

Now I’m left further inspired by the conciseness of your writing. I find it refreshing because I struggle with that. It appears that you have time to consider, reflect and engage in the creative process of editing your words with great care, to leave powerful, clear words that I aspire to. I get easily distracted to engage myself fully in that process and find myself rambling…  So, for now, I’ll shut the **** up and leave you in peace.

With love and respect.

E

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More from the deputy who knew Brents in jail: “the malice and instability that resided within him was so think it was nearly tangible”

It’s interesting to me that any time I think of Brents, the first thing that comes to mind is how he carried himself. He always hunched over, shoulders always curled in. He always tried to minimize himself and make himself appear non-threatening. My thoughts were always along the line of, “you’re not fooling anyone,” the malice and instability that resided within him was so thick it was nearly tangible.  I don’t know if it was a conscious decision on his part or a subconscious act to either attempt to hide the monster within or perhaps as a result of his own traumas. I think it’s the monster attempting to hide.
Did you ever have the opportunity to spend time with him in person? Did you notice that behavior as well? One thing working in a jail or prison setting does is give the cop a very good education in human behavior.  You spend hours each day watching people and how they interact with the world around them. I’ve read through some of the blog, some of his claims that he is working to be a better person, to basically chain the monster inside. My opinion, for all that it is worth (which isn’t much) is, since no one can visually witness him curling in on himself to hide the monster, he is now doing it with words. That monster will never be caged and will always seek an opportunity to victimize. It’s just a longer game for him now. I don’t believe he can ever be habilitated enough to be trusted around anyone he could possibly victimize. Given the slightest opportunity he will pounce and the words he is sharing now are working to groom and create that opportunity. Maybe I am biased and my armchair psychology certainly is irrelevant overall.
At the end of the day, I’m glad you put the whole story out there. It was a brave thing for you to do. I don’t believe I would have had the intestinal fortitude to walk the same path with him and deal with everything that comes with following this and continuing a relationship with him for so many years.
Thank you again for the book.
-Name withheld upon request
Dec. 4, 2018 10:21 p.m.

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Reader: How does one feel safe with a predator?

Comment: Hey Brent,
I’ve read your recent posts with interest. I have faith in you, Brent. Hang in there.

In particular I read: “I’m just tired of the hate, I hate bullies”. May I suggest that the change you seek starts with you. What would it take to hear yourself say “I love bullies” (who, after all is not worthy of love?). This is not the same as “It’s OK to bully”. I get you have a reputation. There are stories about you. People see you how they want to see you; most times they won’t even consider a conversation with you necessary before they make up their minds about you. It’s all opinion. So make who you say you are more powerful that who they say you are. This is a massive ask, yes. But you have time to master this. Of all things you are rich in, Brent, it’s time.

Rather than a “weak little sissy” I consider taking the hit to be a sign of immense, even biblical strength and I’m inspired that you’re considering it. How about making them laugh when they give you the “the evil eye”, like “Shit man, do I have something in my teeth or are you just constipated?” (you’re a quick witted guy, your Spot gets held up at gun point had me laughing out loud at work: “How the hell would I know what Spot is feeling, I’M NOT FUCKING SPOT!”), shock them by shouting so loud in their face then run… you know the drill. With respect, I reckon you’ve mastered the skills to make yourself unnoticeable given your childhood memoir. But every time you hit back, you reinforce their story that you’re a monster.

How does one feel safe with a predator? You love it and respect it. Works the same with the bullies. To Amy, to me and to others, you’re not a monster – we just don’t see you as one, so you don’t show up as one. Would it surprise you to know that I’d choose a conversation with you in a room with no windows than a gaggle of school mums (moms) any day of the week. They are the ones that terrify me and I’m working on that. You are loved and respected. Consider this a privilege worth sharing with these guys who’ve probably had similar past stories of violence that you’ve had.

It’ll be really important to them to hold onto their opinion that you’re a monster once their minds are made up. That you’ll always bite. Then they know what’s going on and people like to know what’s going on, even if it’s horrifying. But it’s not impossible to change the story: make it your choice about who you are, not theirs, don’t give them the option to hold onto a label that isn’t yours.

Oh dear, am I preaching? I’ll stop now: I hope you read the above as invitation rather than instruction. Who the hell am I to instruct? I had a realistic dream the other night of smashing the face of an ex-boyfriend, and it was really quite satisfying….

With love and respect to you and Amy,
E

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We have become a society of monster makers.

Comment: Hi Amy,

I just watched your TED Talk on the Brents case. Back when I was studying for an Administration of Justice degree, I remember studying serial killer cases with curiosity at first, but they seemed to run together and became boring to me . . . turns out evil is boring. Human decency really fascinated me because it seemed rarer in media headlines (by design for ad revenue?)

However, when I studied the Carl Panzram case, I was jolted to the core. His acts were no more or less heinous than other “monsters,” but his childhood upbringing really hit me hard. We have become a society of monster makers.

Are you familiar with his case? Books and a feature film were made about it all.

Brent Brents immediately reminded me of Carl Panzram. Your involvement in the Brents case is very similar to Henry Lesser’s intervention with Panzram. He was the one prison guard who treated Panzram as a human being without forgetting for a second the evil he was capable of in his broken state.

Anyway, thanks for talking about this!
Suzanne

Time: March 18, 2018 at 3:57 pm
Contact Form URL: https://diaryofapredator.com/contact/
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at least quit thinking about revenge

Thank You.

Dear Amy, You changed my life today. I just listened to your Ted talk, “Have You Ever Met a Monster?” and I want you to know that you changed my life.

You are also helping me to forgive my father – if not to excuse him, to at least quit thinking about revenge. Thank you.

All the best,

Susan

February 7, 2018

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My trauma will be with me for the rest of my life but I’m a fighter

Amy- I watched your whole video on Have you ever met a Monster. I will be honest, at first when I started to watch it I couldn’t listen objectively. I was unable to understand from the rapist’s point of view because I usually don’t have compassion for them. When I watched your video for the second time, I watched the whole thing and my views were changed a little. You are right, we need to change the way we view monsters.

Brent Brents- I understand exactly how you feel, you feel angry and betrayed by those around you. I’m so sorry for all the trauma you went through as a young boy. It wasn’t your fault and you didn’t deserve it.

—————–

I know it’s difficult. I’m angry at the fact he got zero help..no one saw what was going. I’m not pitying him, I feel sad for his inner child…. It’s awful. In my own trauma I definitely am angry that my abuser got away with it and that the foster parent at the time chose to ignore it. But I’m so lucky to have gotten adopted into a loving and supportive family.

My trauma will be with me for the rest of my life but I’m a fighter, and I’ve made it this far.
Thank you so much for reading the comments and answering back…. Child abuse needs to be talked about more.
Sincerely,
Natasha

Time: January 28, 2018 at 7:52 pm

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what an inspiration in the woman who was able to forgive Brent

Ms. Herdy, I recently saw your Ted Talk, “Have you ever met a monster” and wanted to thank you for sharing your experiences and insights. What a story. And what an inspiration in the woman who was able to forgive Brent by seeing him as a victim as well- and having the clarity to do so in spite of her being his victim!

Thank you for all that you are doing in bringing attention to such a serious societal problem. I also want to share an interesting article with you that discusses the question you mentioned in your talk.

Lorelei

December 29, 2017

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