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Renee's Voice

Updated on May 7, 2015

Healing When Heard


My Story

My dear friend, Julie Lewis, is an active supporter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and has asked me to tell my story.

In doing so, I strongly aspire to eliminate the shame and stigma that is so ignorantly and insensitively associated with “mental illness.” Also, let’s stop saying “mental illness”…we should use a more positive, more inclusive phrase such as, “person who identifies as a survivor of psychiatric atrocities.”

This is a first step for me, so bear with me…I am a bit wobbly, yet determined.


"In every living thing there is the desire for love."
—D.H. Lawrence

In my own starvation, I saw many others who were dying of the same hunger...we all need intimacy, trust, respect and dignity.

Peeling off the perfect facade veneer feels good. Truth, my “father” who demands to be addressed as "Colonel" and "Sir" is a Narcissistic Sociopath (also called “crazy-makers”). I didn't know that as a child, I just craved to be loved. It’s devastating to find out that Sociopaths are incapable of loving…even their children. Power was his tool, not love, this is far from the outer illusion, the reality was a house of explosive violence, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
I’ll give you a brief synopsis.

I was raised in an affluent, apparent picture perfect family in New England. To outsiders, I was: “A" Renee, Most Likely to Succeed, Funny Girl, Best Actress… Inside the home I heard: “Children should be seen and not heard.” “Obey your father.” “Don’t make me look bad.” “You’re too ugly to be an actress.” “What goes on within the walls of this home stays here.” “It's our secret.” (Expletives deleted).

I left home at 16, served an LDS mission in France, taught at the MTC and kept up my collegiate standing ovation status for my performances. Then I started to unravel...ended up at 69lbs and was hospitalized for anorexia. I put on weight and “looked" healthy, yet we are only as sick as our secrets and I still had many. I’d been threatened to silence.

Fast forward… I chose another “daddy” and was off to Hollywood with a Psychopath. Prince Charming to Prince of Darkness. A brilliant Harvard MBA producer who changed my name and number so no one could have contact with me… after 3 yrs of mind control, isolation, emotional and physical abuse, Stockholm Syndrome set in, it was sick, yet I cleaved to him, he was all I had and it was familiar pain. An angel intervened and I was able to escape. He stalked me for a year and used financial and career carrots to lure me back. Having left with no money, no car, and a sparse support system, it was difficult to say the least. I did not return.

I suffered severe PTSD; however, I was able to work with the best doctor in the state. I made great strides and started using my talents to work with agencies locally in developing Healthy Role Models in the Media. I also started getting back into voice-over and on-camera work. Yet, just as the Colonel and Prince Charming wore masks of sanity, I too, wore masks--masks of humor and stability. My abuse demons were doing their dark work and I needed to confront the original perpetrator, my "father.”


One year ago in December, I attended a local “training” (Gestalt Therapy) to deal with 'daddy' issues and to determine why I invited another violent, narcissistic-psychopath into my life. I wanted out of “victim“ mode. 

During a bizarre “therapeutic” role play exercise, a 'trainee' approached me and whispered, “You saved my life…I was that taker/abuser." Not a week later, he drugged me, raped me and then fled to LA. (Disturbingly, these groups do not screen for predators). I also kept this silent.

After 15 yrs of no contact with the "Colonel,” I let him back into my life for financial reasons and to obtain a lawyer for the above issue, I was also hoping for closure. I was disappointed in my endeavor. The horrible events that ensued during my visit to Florida are devastatingly ironic…during a drunken rage, he snapped. He beat, and strangled me--leaving me unconscious. I am blessed to have had an angel witness who called 911. She said she thought she was witnessing a murder. She remembers more than I do. I am grateful that my mind blocked out some of the horror.

The emotional beatings continued. The Colonel, a millionaire, tried to bribe and threaten a friend into coercing me to drop the charges. This, I couldn't do without perjuring myself. It was up to the state of Florida. Florida pressed felony charges against him. He then demanded I call his lawyer. A felony record would not be suitable for a Colonel. I did not make that call.

This was my first step to standing in my truth and having a voice. The next day my "father" cut off my phone, my rent, and all survival funds. I had lost my job after the rape and these actions created new physical and emotional issues. I stand in my truth against a lifetime of secrets and abuse. I hold my head high, yet am now penniless and dealing with survival issues, PTSD symptoms as well as neck and potential brain trauma.

This leads up to my "denouement" moment (or moments as it is in my case). There were several “oops” in my desperation to end the pain, with self-medicating sabotage recklessly landing me in the hospital. This time was intentional; I had to end the pain. Waking up in the ICU with tubes, wires and monitors keeping my body alive, I did wake up—my Spirit decided to live.

Where There Is Love, There Is Life —Gandhi
I so want to focus on my lessons learned and all the "good news"... that we are not alone!


It is not weak to allow other people to help you…so I learned the hard way, it actually takes more strength to let people in and show vulnerability… I had isolated myself.

I have learned that “Weakness Portrayed is Strength Conveyed.” So wobbly and choppy here I go: Loneliness is lethal. Every 13 minutes someone—from all social classes—dies of suicide.

We recognize and give much attention and resources to physical cancers, to burned faces and visible dismemberment of limbs--as we should and may I make a plea: people are bleeding internally—emotionally. We All need trust and intimacy to survive; it is a hunger even more pervasive than food. We are born for love and empathy is essential!

About 1/3 of babies placed in the barest orphanages can actually die as a result of lack of human touch and affection, their growth hormone levels drop as well as metabolism...I believe we have a universal Adult On-set of Failure to Thrive. My spirit was in ICU before my body. I had held in so many secrets, covered for the “evil doers" autocracies...I couldn't mask or cover the pain any longer. Honestly, I just wanted to be loved---not for my appearance, not for my academic and acting achievements, or my Beverly Hills "I've made it' Status"...just for ME!

I am grateful for those loyal few in my life; I am awakening with a renewed strength of purpose, like a Phoenix Rising from the ashes. My name, Renee, means re-birth in French. I am born anew… with wisdom, strength, and light that I hope will inspire others out of their darkness.

People start to Heal When They Feel Heard... so, I now use my voice in hopes that telling my story will be a key that unlocks someone else's prison.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a Champion of Change...I get involved in non-profits to help others tell their stories—from domestic violence, to rape, to PTSD…ironically, I never ventured to tell my own story…until it was almost too late.

Thank you, Julie, for encouraging me to use my voice. I know I am speaking to and being heard by compassionate, loving people. You are now part of my story-- this is the first time for me to use my voice on such a public platform. Thank you. Please see with your hearts and love deeply. You will save lives.

It is not how much you give, but how much love you put into the giving that matters. —Mother Teresa



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      Alison Clark 3 years ago

      Renee, I'm so sorry that you have known so much pain!!! I can't believe how strong you are! I feel very lucky to have gotten to work with you, and am proud to call you friend!

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      Teri-Lisa M. Stagg 3 years ago


      You have my heart, and my prayers... Much love, always, Teri

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      Marla 3 years ago

      Renee, I am so proud of the strides you have made and so saddened by the horrors you have endured. I feel blessed to know you. Alex said once that you had a spirit of light within you, a special spirit...

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      lisa 3 years ago

      Renee, I am proude of you. I am proude that you were able to face your demons and be a voice for others and give them courage to face there own demons. Your beautiful and are loved. Don't ever think that your not good enough because you are. You will have a beautiful life full of love if you continue to heal.

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      Jeff Parkin 3 years ago


      You are amazing! Your courage in standing up to evil and choosing to be a light for others is deeply humbling. Keep it up. You are in our prayers!


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      Bill 3 years ago

      Renee you are an amazing wonderful woman. I am honored you are my coach, mentor, and friend.

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      Susan J. 3 years ago


      Well done. I have so much admiration for your courage to stand up and say this. It must be very difficult to admit to the world that you had been vulnerable. But having the strength to stand up and share this will undoubtedly give others either the strength to share their stories or the strength to change their story before it becomes even more dangerous.

      Although my story is different from yours, I have had some healing to do, and have found that the power mentioned by Ryan above has been a saving grace in my life. I pray for your continued healing with all sincerity and love.

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      Lisa Clark 3 years ago

      I am amazed by your courage and faith. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry for all you've been through. You are strong! Love you! Xoxo

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      Stephanie Boyd 3 years ago

      Thank you for finding the courage to share. Keep up the good work and God bless you.

    • Renee Casati profile image

      Renee Casati 3 years ago from Park City, Utah

      Ron and Christie, thank you de tout coeur...E. E. Cummings said, "It takes courage to grow up and be who you are supposed to be." I am determined in my purpose now...I know the Why and the How will are an intergral part of my story...thank you!

    • Renee Casati profile image

      Renee Casati 3 years ago from Park City, Utah

      Ryan, I am so touch...thank you and beautiffuly stated. I shall work on a worthy nom de plume for you! You shine too!

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      Ryan Behunin 3 years ago


      You are one of the most beautiful persons I have ever known. I applaud your courage and especially your love of others and yourself. For someone so loving suffering so much, but still finding the strength within to stand up yet again to now tell your story, you are becoming a savior to many many others. You are and will always be amazing to me. You are a beautiful writer. Keep going!!!

      Don't forget that one day the one who has the power will completely take away your pain to be remembered no more. But for now, you are to help save others. You love so much. Keep going!!!

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      Ron Ringo, PhD 3 years ago

      PTSD or Emotional Trauma comes in many forms. Renee's writing shares the horror that so many innocent experience. Sharing one's story in an appropriate way is one of the biggest steps in healing from "Life Traumas". I thank Renee for her courage to share hers and for her heart to help others. Blessings and continued healing. Your Friend,

      Chappy Ron Ringo Jr., PhD

      Retired USN/USMC, Chaplain

      Certified Trauma,Grief & Loss Specialist

    • profile image

      Christie 3 years ago

      You are a fierce and beautiful warrior! Thank you for sharing

    • Daniel Carter profile image

      Daniel Carter 3 years ago from Western US

      I'm so proud of you for the courage you've gathered to face the demons of abuse and all the other horrible things that you have faced. You have defied the odds, you have lived through suicide attempts, through more abuse, and now you are a voice and advocate for any and all who identify with your story. On the darkest days (there will still be some, although they will become less and less) I hope you can remember why you have survived, and rise, and speak clearly enough so that those yet in the darkness can walk to you standing in the light.