Tag Archives: sexual violence

Reader: May he continue to reflect

I just saw his thoughtful reply. “Incapable” – that’s a powerful adjective for a parent. It’s a helplessness to be able to commit to the ability to evolve. And as people, we are expected to evolve … Brent is not incapable. He – is – evolving, or trying to in many ways in a very limited and often hopeless environment. I really appreciated his time to address my letter and do some reflection and introspection.  I do disagree that his childhood didn’t shape him. I have always believed there is a danger in weaving the yarns of parental authority, physical violence, sexual violence/contact, with day to day care of childrearing. It makes a tight ball of confusion that is difficult to unwind and leave the person relatively intact. It confuses love and violence; weird sexuality and feelings; need, reliance, and hate. 
 
May he continue to reflect.  
Michelle, 6-1-2018

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Replying to a reader: Describe your father in 1 word. Describe your mother in 1 word.

Michelle,

First of all thank U for sharing that experience w/ all of us. This must be the week where people challenge my thinking. Which i take seriously. I wish i could have found it in my heart to forgive my dad his wrongs on his death bed. Although i was not there, i know full well i had too much hate and bitterness toward him to do so.

I have struggled w/ that issue for years. Finaly being able to find some understanding and insight into him as i learn about myself and why i chose to be this way. We were both sick, scarred, and programed violently @ the hands of our parents. We both chose to be predatory instead of vulnerable.

I don’t know about him but i had chances to make the changes necessary to become a productive and compassionate individual. I chose hate and predation as my armor. I enjoyed hurting people. I was a coward just as he was. I could say it was my parents fault. Yet that would be total bullshit.

The truth is i (chose) this way of life. Although i have gained the ability to feel compassion and empathy for people. I still suffer the addiction to sexual violence. It is a shame i deal w/ daily.

So in one word how would i describe my father… ( Incapable ). Because he was controlling and manipulative right up to his death in 2004. And was incapable of change. I’m not sure if it was because he didn’t care to or that he had behaved violently and hurtfully for so long he just didn’t know how.

My mother…This one is easy. ( sick ). She was molested by her father, uncles, brothers. She was literaly used by the men in her family as a sexual apperatus. From a very young age. Then she marries my father. Horrible choice.

The woman only knew to equate love and sex as the same thing. The incest w/ me was her way of loving me. I dont really hate her for it. Although it was clearly a crime against myself. I not only enjoyed it, but i also equated this sexual behavior as love.

It was a sickness we shared. A way to love one another in his little private kingdom. I have forgiven her as well. My anger was not at what she did to me. Rather at her not working w/ me to hash it out.

To find a place of understanding between us. Where we could finaly put it all behind us and heal together and seperately. To exercise our own demons. And love one another as a mother and child should have from the beginning…

But the reality is shit happens. I made shitty choices that had absolutely nothing to do w/ the abuse i endured as a child. Broken system or not. I chose to be what i was. I am addicted to sexual violence. My brain is and has been fucked up for years.

That however is no excuse for how i chose to live my life. In a nut shell, the one word i would use to describe myself now: ( Learning ). How would i have described myself 14 years ago. ( Evil )!!!

So Michelle i hope i have provided some insight into myself, and how i see things. As for the abuse i went thru as a child. It honestly was not what made me who i was. Though it is easy to say my parents created an animal. Its simply not the case.

They are probably responsible for my sexually violent addiction. However i made the choice at around the age of 10 to be predatory. Because it gained me what they took from me. And that was my ability to control my own emotional safety and security. As well as my physical and sexual well being. I created me, i truly believe this.

Just as i am now recreating myself. Molding a compassionate and caring human being. And its not easy. But necessary.

-Brent Brents

1-24-18

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I read your book and still follow the blog, and find the story of Brent compelling, and so incredibly sad.

I have my own history of abuse at the hands of a parent, and luckily for me, my healing was healthy and empowering. I began to realize it was him who was damaged and sick. I look in the mirror every morning and I like who I am. I don’t know what he sees when he looks in his mirror … a couple of years ago, I was at his death bed, holding his hand as he approached mortality and I asked, “How would you describe your father in 1 word?” His response, “… distant … ” Ok, interesting… “How would you describe your mother, in 1 word?” “… Vain” and my eyes began to well up. He was raised by parents who were distant and vain. Jesus Christ, what had THEY done to HIM? and the empathy and compassion I felt for him, my abuser, was overwhelming … it literally washed over me that, he was not who he was supposed to be. Someone did something to change him. I don’t relieve him of his responsibility for those things done to me and others … but I had a window into the “why”…and the timeline of cause and effect.

I forgave the man. I will never forgive the acts. I loved him but I was afraid to be near him most of my life. I second guessed every comment, every intention…and I hated that, but it wasn’t of my choosing. I am so grateful that although it took until the end, I gained even more perspective and true forgiveness.

I look at Brent and I think, he was born a beautiful perfect little being … what the hell did they think they were doing, and creating out of him???? I don’t forgive his acts, they are his to own. But it sickens me that he was changed. He was forever altered through no fault of his own. I wonder how he would answer the questions:

Describe your father in 1 word.
Describe your mother in 1 word.

-Michelle

January 19, 2018

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considering the perpetrators of sexual violence

Comment: Hi Amy,
I’m watching your TedTalk and I just wanted to thank you for bringing up this issue of considering the perpetrators of sexual violence. You brought up a good point-that discussing why people commit such acts and seeing their suffering is not the same as excusing their actions. Really-wonderful perspective! Have you ever seen the documentary, The Mask You Live In? This discusses how we bring up boys in society and its negative effects.
Best of luck to you in all of your pursuits!
Amber

Time: May 3, 2018 at 4:54 pm
Contact Form URL: https://diaryofapredator.com/contact/

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Have You Ever Met a Monster, Part IV: Our society cares more if a sexual assault victim is the right kind of victim

Brent BrentsBrents has often said that by the time he was 9, his brain was broken.

What if someone had intervened in his life early on? A teacher? A neighbor? How could no one have noticed that boy who went to school with bruises, smelling like urine because he had wet the bed the night before rather than creep down the hall to the bathroom and risk waking his father?

If you help an abused child, you might be preventing a lifetime of pain—for more than one person.

So many people live in what I call “garage houses”—where the garage is the dominant feature. They pull up to their garage at night, the door goes up, their car goes in, and the door comes down. They stay inside their house until they leave the next day. They can’t tell you the name of the family down the street. They won’t interact and they sure won’t intervene.

What if we dared to care—without hesitation, without condition?

It’s a harsh truth that our society cares more if a sexual assault victim is the right kind of victim. Remember how police told Margaret the DNA from her case would sit on a shelf for at least two months? When Brents attacked victims in a high-income neighborhood, the DNA was processed within hours.

Lady Justice might be blind, but she can sure have a champagne taste.

Margaret and I talked often while her case wound its way through the court system. During a hearing in July 2005, Brents pleaded guilty to Margaret’s attack.

Like many survivors who struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Margaret was terrified of leaving her house. She had flashbacks, nightmares. She couldn’t hold down a job. Her marriage fell apart.

On the day before the hearing, Margaret asked me to deliver a message to Brents for her, and I agreed. And this was her message:

“Tell him…I forgive him.”

It’s stunning, isn’t it? How could she forgive this man who wounded her so, who nearly took everything from her?

She said, “I’m not feeling bad for the man who tried to kill me, but for the little boy who had the same thing happen to him.”

And she said, “Hating is not hard. But if I go on hating him, I will never get over it.”

Then she added, “If it was me, I would want people to try to help me or try to listen to me and not just look at me like I’m an animal or a monster.

She inspires me. If Margaret can forgive Brent Brents, we can forgive anybody.

This case had a profound effect on my life.

It taught me that we’re all connected, and turning our backs on others is really abandoning ourselves.

It made me realize that I didn’t like the journalist I had become. It was actually Brents who pointed out to me that he and I had something in common: We were both driven.

I quit that job shortly after his case ended. I will never again work in a newsroom because the desperate competition for ratings is unhealthy for me, in many ways.

And I no longer knock on a survivor’s door unless I’m invited.

I began interviewing Brents because as a journalist who has spent a lifetime reporting on sexual violence, I wanted an answer to the question, “Why?”

He began as a bug under a microscope–and that’s what I told him.

He became a lesson in humanity and compassion.

Even so-called “monsters” have things they’re afraid of.

Brents wrote me about his. He said,

“My biggest fear is that I will die (pause) without ever having done anything  good.”

That’s why I tell this story. Thank you for listening.

BRENT J. BRENTS -- At age 13

BRENT J. BRENTS — At age 13

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Have You Ever Met a Monster, Part III: What are we doing wrong as a culture that we continue to produce rapists?

It turned out that Brents had followed my work. A few months before he was released from prison I had finished co-authoring an investigation into how the military mishandles domestic violence and sexual assault. It resonated with him, not because he was a perpetrator, but because the angry man-child within him, considered himself a victim.

Records and accounts from family members indicate that Brents’ father was a violent, sadistic man. The two children from his second marriage were removed from the home because of his abuse, and Brents and his brother, the product of his father’s third marriage, were also removed from the home, although for unknown reasons, Brent was returned.

Brent BrentsThis is Brent’s first grade picture. His father had been raping him for three years by then.  A few weeks after this next picture was taken,

Brent Brents

BRENT J. BRENTS — At age 13

when Brent was 12, his father beat him so badly that Brent suffered what medical records described as a left orbital blowout fracture—his left eye socket was broken.  He’s had seizures ever since. I will spare you the details of the sexual torture he endured. He said his father told him that he himself had been beaten and sexually abused as a child by his father, Brent’s grandfather.

And so the pattern repeated. Pain, degradation, shame. Brent Brents did to others what had been done to him as a boy, and while he was still a boy, like many victims, he blamed himself. He once wrote, “I can’t remember much about when I was real young except fear and shame and lack of courage.”

Shame is an enormous trigger of violence. Brents told me that after that detective said to him, Turn yourself in you little punk, he, Brents, worked himself into a rage. Then he went on his final horrifying crime spree.

I’m not saying these factors are an excuse for the violence Brents inflicted upon others. He made choices.  He absolutely deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison. But knowing what happened to him helps explain why someone like Brents committed such violence with a lack of empathy–that his brain was predisposed toward it, and the abuse inflicted on him was his model.

It’s human nature to want to distance yourself from someone like him. Label him as a “monster,” dismiss him as evil, because we don’t want to have anything in common with such a monster–it could mean we, too, are capable of monstrous things.

It also makes it too easy. When we put rapists in the category of “monster” it may make us feel safer today but it’s more dangerous for tomorrow. Because then we won’t believe that the “monster” can be a neighbor, a good friend, a coworker. That enables them to hide in plain sight.

The dominant theme of how to prevent sexual assault today is cloaked in helpful advice, like don’t walk alone, don’t drink, don’t put yourself at risk—and the message, primarily to women, is, Don’t. Get. Raped.

How about we turn the spotlight to a different population and say, Don’t. Rape. And then take it one step further and ask, what are we doing wrong as a culture that we continue to produce rapists? Because whether it’s the ex-convict who attacks a stranger, the college boy who rapes his girlfriend or the celebrity who drugs and assaults his victims—they’re all choosing to exert their anger, power and control over someone else. With that choice, they are all the same, and they all leave pain in their wake.

I’ve interviewed more than fifty survivors of campus sexual assault in the past two years alone and the details I learn about their perpetrators paint a picture of SO MANY young men being deliberately predatory. They isolate their intended victim, ply them with alcohol or drugs, lock doors, ignore tears, ignore pleas to stop or ignore the fact their victim is limp with fear or is unconscious.

Ten years ago, Brent Brents was sentenced to 1,509 years. Today all over this country we are seeing new generations of serial rapists. Why is this still happening?

Why do we continue to reinforce the message to boys and young men that their worth is linked to their ability to dominate?

What if we prized compassion more than power?

When they’re little, we tell our children to play nicely in the sandbox.

As they get older, we say, don’t get in fights on the playground. Take a breath, count to ten, walk away.

Then they get even older and we teach them about the biological aspects of sex—health and reproduction.

What if we evolved those conversations with our youth, and teach them how feeling shame, feeling powerless or feeling angry–all of which cover up hurt and rejection—COULD cause them to want to dominate someone else?

And that they can learn to recognize triggers and not act upon them.

At least start that conversation.

And then speak up if you witness predatory behavior—and you’ll know it when you see it. Don’t make excuses.  Don’t look away. Don’t cover it up.

And because sexual violence happens on a continuum—escalating from verbal harassment to physical attacks–Speak up when you hear or read a joke about sexual assault, or victimization. It’s not funny, it’s not sexy. It’s dangerous.

If someone confides in you they’ve been assaulted, believe them–false reporting is extremely rare, so yes, believe them. Listen to them without judgment. Help them find resources, and then support whatever they decide to do.

For perpetrators– Brents told me that group counseling for sexual offenders in prison does not work. For an inmate to even be seen going to sex offender group risks their safety, and once there, they don’t want to be seen as vulnerable. It’s hard to change when you’re living in fear. And if we really do want to help them try to change, let’s offer more of the respect and compassion that can be felt with one-on-one, focused attention—something a damaged person desperately needs.

Instead of building more prisons and focusing only on punishing the perpetrators, why don’t we try to prevent them?

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letter to Natasha: i did it to inflict the deepest wounds

Note from Amy: Here are the questions that Natasha posed to Brent that he’s referring to in his letter:

I feel that prisons as they stand today are horrible places and dehumanizing and in no way “corrective” or “rehabilitating”, they only make distressed prisoners more distressed. I wish there was a medium — something like constant supervision of violent prisoners in order to ensure safety of self and others, but with some humanity and compassion attached to it. May I ask, what would be your ideal vision if you could wave a wand and make it happen, past mistakes aside? Do you think you could 100% stop yourself from hurting others in those moments that your rage comes flooding through your mind, if you were a free man? -Natasha

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Ok so i finished the letter to Natasha. I hope it helps answer her questions. Sometimes its not easy to answer peoples questions. simply because the answers are brutal to face myself. Let alone other peoples reactions to them.

-Brent Brents 11-20-11

Natasha,

Ok look somedays i am Not real good at this. I have a tendency to forget that people are basicly inocent and even genuinely nieve. When i first read your Letter to Amy i thought what a foolish nieve person. My honest apologies.

Theres no real simple way to help people get what i think or feel most days. But i will try, then i will answer the two questions you asked me.

Imagine if you can Not being able to walk five steps 24 hours a day, without a sexually violent thought, thoughts of violence, or having the constant desire to release an unatainable high thru ejaculation.

I have OCD, and Manic depression. For roughly 32 years now i have been obsessed with sexual violence, Not just the act. But the deep deep scars it creates in people who i victimized.

I think and feel these things like i breathe air. It sucks. I am constantly ashamed. I wash my hands close to a hundred times a day. I’ grateful that my psych meds leave me physicaly impotent as well as largely curb my obsessions.

I hate that part of me. It Never sleeps, Never surrenders, and Never tires of crushing the soul out of other people. Its angry, full of rage and hate. I push it down, try to focus on other things. Up until now i have had Little or No idea how to restrain myself. It was like heroin. There was this high, yet just like heroin, i couldn’t get high enough. These days the meds help.

I know now i should have sought this type of Mental health care many years ago. But i was to pridefull and ignorant. I feel ashamed that i have fought medication so hard and so long.

So as to the question of 100% stoping myself. If i say yes i am disrespecting you, those i hurt, my friends and myself. Do i want to hurt people. “No” absolutely Not. Some men rape for pleasure, some for control, some to relieve some deep ugly creep inside. Me, i did it to inflict the deepest wounds. The ones i was all to familiar with. The pain of a broken soul. To have control of and to crush someone mentaly. And it still wasn’t enough. I always felt empty and even more full of bitter rage after an attack.

Now I might be able to control myself. But lets Not go there. The Simple truth is if i got out today i would spend a day each with my friends and buy enough heroin to OD on. I just couldn’t imagine hurting anyone else. I would rather die. My brain Natasha is broken. That’s the best way i know how to put it. Broken.

(note from Amy–the second half of this letter to be continued).

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