If you had the chance to exact revenge on someone who had irrevocably changed the course of your life forever, would you?
For American writer David Holthouse, it’s a question that he has asked himself many times.
“I remember too well what it felt like to plot the murder of the man who raped me when I was seven,” Holthouse admitted in a recent essay for the The Guardian.
“In the fall of 1978, when I was a little boy, growing up in Anchorage, Alaska, the teenage son of family friends raped me in a basement during a dinner party. In my bad dreams, I still hear the sound of his unsheathing the samurai sword he terrorised me with. I feel my face being crushed into the black plastic of his waterbed mattress by the pillow he clamped over my head to muffle the cries of pain,” he continued.
“Right after he was finished, the rapist threatened to gut me with a fishing knife if I ever told anyone. I kept the rape a secret for the next 25 years.”
In the time that passed Holthouse moved from Alaska, attended university and eventually became a journalist in Denver. It was here that he was reunited with his rapist, who was living just a few miles away.
What followed was months of plotting – to murder the man and avenge his younger self.
David Holthouse at the casting call for Stalking the Bogeyman. Source: Getty.
"I’ve read that people who are suicidal experience a sense of calm once they begin the actual planning of the act. It was the same for me with murder," Holthouse wrote.
"I felt much better once I was taking action to protect myself in a way I’d been unable to when I was a child."
Before he could go through with the murder, Holthouse decided to meet up with the rapist, recording their conversation and carrying a semi-automatic pistol with him.
Then through some greater intervention, Holthouse's parents discovered the secret and suddenly the dark bubble of solitude surrounding the secret was broken.
Realising murder was no longer an option, Holthouse decided to write about his story instead.
What resulted was Stalking the Bogeyman, a tale of his ordeal told through a child and a young man.
Having been published as an essay and shared on the This American Life podcast, Holthouse's story is now making its way to London.
"I agreed to put my story on stage because doing so challenges the silence, the sickening silence, that has been the norm for so long around childhood sexual abuse and sexual assault.
"It’s a pervasive evil whose perpetrators thrive in silence. They feed upon innocence, shame and fear, but they rely upon silence to keep doing what they do, and not just the silence of their individual victims, but also the silence of collective denial, the uneasiness of even discussing the topic," Holthouse adds finally.
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