Patterns of Abuse: What we can learn from the death and suicide letter of GOP Senate Aide, Jesse Loskarn?
Jesse Loskarn, 35, was chief of staff to GOP’s Senator Lamar Alexander from Tennessee. In mid-December 2013, Loskarn was arrested for possession and distribution of child porn. Officials found child porn on Loskarn’s hard drive.
Because Loskarn had no prior convictions, he was able to secure a conditional release and remain at the home of his parents, Chuck and Gay Loskarn. Part of the conditions necessitated the wearing of a GPS monitoring device and he was not allowed to access the internet.
Tragically, on January 23, 2014, Oskarn took his own life in the basement of his parents’ home.
His mother found a suicide letter and posted it publicly. Here is the introduction she posted:
The last month of Jesse Ryan Loskarn’s life was surrounded by a media frenzy, with what appeared to be the goal of destroying his reputation beyond repair. Newspapers and other media outlets depicted him mostly in a negative light and stole away any good he had done during his short but full life. During this tragic time he had no voice, but in his death he can be heard. Our society is quick to judge especially when the topic surrounding his death is so difficult. This letter written by Jesse Ryan Loskarn was found after he took his own life on January 23, 2014. If his words can help just one person who is suffering in silence it will be his greatest accomplishment. (Source)
Loskarn was able to be very successful in his business, keeping his secret from everybody. His family, friends, and business acquaintances were shocked when news was released of his arrest. Some abusive pastors do the same thing. We talk a lot about patterns of abuse we see with regard to spiritual abuse – – the need to be in control, the methods used to manipulate and control people, families, and churches, etc, to the point that some people lose their own identities. How is it that abusive pastors are able to pull the wool over other the eyes of their church members and even church leaders? What is hidden in their lives?
In Loskarn’s case, his suicide note gives more of a glimpse into what he went through as first a sexual abuse survivor who kept his secret hidden, and then as he went on to abuse by possessing and distributing child porn.
I admit it – I had a difficult time reading his suicide note because I have dear friends and even a family member who have been or currently are married to pedophiles. Pedophiles are abusers. Do we ever excuse the behavior of an abuser? Do we forgive them because of abuse they incurred as a child? Does their abuse justify their behavior? Why and how do we do forgive when we are in the midst of pain from the abuse they caused? It is difficult to know how to respond sometimes.
Jesse Loskarn’s suicide letter begins:
On December 11, 2013, I was arrested for possession of child pornography. Writing those few words took a long time; seeing them in print is agony. But I owe many, many people an explanation – if that’s even possible – and that’s why I’ve written this letter.
He describes how he was lured into child porn:
I found myself drawn to videos that matched my own childhood abuse. It’s painful and humiliating to admit to myself, let alone the whole world, but I pictured myself as a child in the image or video. The more an image mirrored some element of my memories and took me back, the more I felt a connection.
This is my deepest, darkest secret.
The following part intrigued me because survivors can sometimes hide and excel in their work. They are able to compartmentalize and function very well in the real world with no one suspecting a thing:
Those I worked with on the Hill would likely describe me as a controlled, independent, and rational person who could analyze a situation with little or no emotion. That’s how I viewed myself. In retrospect, the qualities that helped me succeed on Capitol Hill were probably developed partly as a result of the abuse and how it shaped me.
And this . . . . the power of keeping secrets. Here he speaks the time he talked to a counselor in jail after his arrest:
The session ended and I left to be taken to a cell. Before I’d gone far, the counselor called me back. He said there was something he couldn’t put his finger on and he wanted to talk some more. And then he just stopped and looked at me, not saying a word. He was the first person in my life who I think had figured it out. And he was the first person I ever spoke to in any detail about those memories.
The next few sentences reveal much:
And last, to the children in the images: I should have known better. I perpetuated your abuse and that will be a burden on my soul for the rest of my life.
I think Loskarn understood how powerful his abuse and secret was – – – but far too late.
Psalms 9:9 The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
As we study patterns here, I want to show you another article I found related to Loskarn’s tragic case. I came across a fascinating article in which Loskarn’s suicide statement has been analyzed.
The italicized quote is from Loskarn’s letter and the bold font is the analysis:
This is my deepest, darkest secret.
As a child I didn’t understand what had happened at the time of the abuse. I did know that I must not tell anyone, ever. Later the memories took on new and more troubling meaning when I became a teenager. They started to appear more often and made me feel increasingly apart from everyone else. In my mind I instigated and enjoyed the abuse – even as a five and nine year old – no matter the age difference. Discussing what had happened would have meant shame and blame.
These are indications that he is telling the truth.
1. Reference to himself, again, as a “child”
2. Having no “voice”, as the child feels muzzled by the perpetrator
3. “apart”: this is the brain’s way of protecting itself: disassociating from the abuse. This is often the case in highly intelligent victims and leads to mental illness. (DID). The child’s imagination “escapes” the abuse, and the victim will describe ‘almost watching, while floating above’ the abuse take place.
4. “enjoyed the abuse”: if the perpetrator did not inflict pain, but the sensations were pleasurable, the victim will sometimes suffer even more from it, as guilt is not added to the powerful equation of hell unleashed in their soul.
For me, this is an inescapable proof of having been created in the Image of God. A child is touched, sexually, and not injured physically, but actually touched in a way that brings pleasure, yet the damage, often surfacing in adolescence and then re-emerging in the 30’s, is acute. The victim suffers for life for what was done in childhood. Physically, this makes no sense, yet, it is a form of violence done against the Image bearer. It hurts the victim and everyone that loves the victim.
WebMD.com defines dissociative identity disorder (DID):
Dissociative identity disorder (previously known as multiple personality disorder) is an effect of severe trauma during early childhood, usually extreme, repetitive physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
Dissociative identity disorder is thought to stem from trauma experienced by the person with the disorder. The dissociative aspect is thought to be a coping mechanism — the person literally dissociates himself from a situation or experience that’s too violent, traumatic, or painful to assimilate with his conscious self.