The intention of this cycle and the story that goes with it is to let people know that maniacs do exist, and do prey on vulnerable people. And, yes, that it could happen to you, whether you are male or female, if you allowed it . That, for me, was one of the most agonizing and frustrating aspects of the whole situation: that I, who was always considered “the strong one”, could be vulnerable to an attack such as this one. Masterful, it was. The beast knew my weaknesses, knew what buttons to push, and pushed them expertly. He lied, and lied, and lied… Little by little, he caused me to doubt my own instincts, to second-guess my own insights, and finally, when it was almost too late for me to realize what had happened (I say “almost” because I did, in the end, get out), he had me fully isolated and silenced. And that was when he did his worst damage.

Possibly the entire story is too long to relate here. It happened over the space of a year, and I am still (and no doubt will for a long time) putting the pieces into place. There is much that I do not remember, because I was deprived of sleep, starved, tortured, and regularly beaten… one’s memory tends to leave merciful holes. An outstanding therapist once told me that I had been a prisoner of war, and I suppose that is true. The man who did all this to me and others was himself the son of a Japanese man who had been placed in a concentration camp — an American one! — during World War II (our history is just as guilt-laden as Hitler’s though we dislike to admit it). This poor man — pity him — was tortured himself, perhaps worse than the torture he heaped on me and others like me. Of course this does not excuse what he did, because we must all be responsible in the end for our own actions, despite what our courts say in these modern times. It does, however, offer some explanation for how it might have happened.

I still grapple with horrible memories, and fears not yet laid to rest. And anger. Blind, unthinking, fang-baring fury. But time passes, and memories fade, and it becomes part of who we are… I would not be who I am now, were it not for this journey through hell.

And now I have been given a moral imperative: the story must be told. I cannot experience a journey such as that, and keep it to myself. The story must be told. Were I to remain quiet, and not even try to save someone else from experiencing the same thing, I would be as guilty as he that did it to me. The story must be told. The rest is up to you. For the knowledge that it can happen to you is for me the motivation for trying my best to prevent it from happening. If I can affect even one life, if I can touch someone enough for them to realize that there is life after hell, then I have done what God gave me to do. If I can do more, I will. THE STORY MUST BE TOLD. If I can help someone survive, if I can teach you that you can stand on your own again, I have done what God has given me to do.

I give these poems to the world. They are not mine, but God’s. Take them, read them, share them with friends you think might need them. Only remember that the story, allegory though it may be, happened to a real person, and continues to happen to other real people. I intend to make as public as possible the awareness that justice is not in there, in the courtrooms, but in your own heart. True justice is this: you can go through hell, come out the other side, and not just survive but THRIVE!