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Posted By: Johana on: 02/13/2013 13:41:48 ET
Subject: fjFoYkHjDuhb

Message Detail:
Thank you, Eric, for highlighting the cylicc and societal/systemic nature of violence.I had an experience eleven years ago that helped me understand the enormous pain that someone who is compelled to perpetrate violence carries. In the middle of the night a stranger, a 23 year-old man, broke into my home with the intent to rape me and my partner. (He had heard that two lesbians were living in the neighborhood.) He was a convicted sex offender and had only been recently been released from prison. He started sexually abusing others when he was thirteen. But, at 23, he was still just a kid himself. He was armed with a shotgun and a hunting knife and charged into our bedroom. In the mayhem of the dogs barking and his entrance I rose to flip on the light and stood face to face with the barrel of the gun. I disassociated at that point. Blessedly, my partner kept her wits and very quickly began to engage him in a conversation. She expressed concern for him and it threw him off-balance. As I slowly entered my body again I realized what she was doing and joined in the conversation; I knew it was our only hope for survival. To make a long story short, we both survived the long night, physically unharmed. In the course of eight hours, during most of which Luke held the gun pointed at us, we talked about everything from how engines work to Luke's childhood to the nature of God/reality. Somehow, he slowly relented from his intention. We convinced him to leave and get psychological help. We made him breakfast before he left in the morning. We promised him we would not call the police, but we did. He was arrested, convicted, imprisoned again and committed suicide in his jail cell six months later.I suffered from symptoms of PTSD for years after the break-in and I am sure someone would argue that our empathy for Luke was just a case of Stockholm syndrome. But both my partner and I lived through a lifetime in that one night with that tortured kid. He needed help. To this day, I regret not being able to have helped him, to have found someone to advocate for his help in the prison system. The emotional, physical, and spiritual damage that a perpetrator inflicts upon a victim is very real; but that person is also inflicting damage upon themselves. We are not separate. We are connected. When one of us is hurt or heals, it affects all of us.
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