"I’m alright. I’m alive. I’m here and Bob is gone."

When an intruder broke into her apartment in the middle of the night, the life of the author changed irrevocably. The man, whom she decided to call “Bob,” had apparently been observing her and her flat-mate Katie and had found a way into their little domain through an open window. Strangely, though he demonstrated an intention to rape the woman who gave her name to him as “Cindy,” she was able to fend off his advances for three hours. The methods she used were spontaneous. They included physical resistance and aggressive response on her part, but there were clever diversionary tactics as well. She asked him his name, shook his hand, even offered to get up and cook him a meal—anything to distract him from his desire to rape her. In the time they were together, though she could barely see him, she determined that he had an acrid body odor and very rough hands. As dawn broke, a neighbor began doing his morning ninja moves, causing a sudden clatter. Cindy convinced Bob that this was a sign that Katie would soon be up and would come to check on her. Bob fled. He was never found, though the author is convinced that he continued to stalk her.

In the immediate aftermath of this bizarre occurrence, the author convinced herself that nothing serious had happened and decided to go to work. Katie, better able to see her friend’s hysteria, made Lonsway go to the police. Among those who talked to her was Officer Thom Redmond who became "her" policeman, the one who believed her, who acknowledged her terrifying experience, praised her bravery, and did all he could to hunt down her attacker. Her boyfriend Scott and her father were other mainstays of support as she soon realized she was suffering from PTSD, feeling frightened and insecure for years afterward. These feelings lingered even after she and Scott were happily, securely married and had children whom she sought to protect from harm. However, to her sorrow, each life event—the births of her sons, a return to the city where she had been attacked—brought back anxiety-laden memories and became elements of what she calls “the perfect storm.”

Lonsway, who has honed her writing skills in the creation of this memoir, illustrates how an amazing series of healing events occurred, and continue to occur, including a vividly painted mental (but to Lonsway, very real) “meeting” with Bob described emotively in the book. In the wake of her inner alteration—her newly won grounding in a place of forgiveness and peace—Lonsway resolved to share her story. Her writing indicates that she has strong gifts for dialogue, description, and drama. This is particularly apparent in the opening scenes of the book. It is almost as if she recalls every moment, every nuance, and tiny detail of that harrowing experience—which is surprising considering the degree of post-traumatic stress that she experienced as time passed. Her eerie account of the hours spent with Bob, so intensely set forth, gives the book a sizzling starting point, making the reader want to discover and follow along with the author the road to resolution. That long and revelatory journey is artfully and at times almost poetically presented to the reader, with the author’s demonstration of her own lack of understanding about spirituality and religion that gradually gave way to the absolute conviction that she was receiving inner guidance, not only in the initial stages of healing but on up to the present day.

As Lonsway gropes for answers, and for relief for the nightmare that haunts her, she learns how to love and forgive not just Bob but others whose crimes are undeniably far worse. She is convinced that we should all learn to pray for wrongdoers, to bring them into the light of God’s grace. Now, nearly 40 years after that fateful encounter with Bob, she still prays for his wellbeing and has found a “give-back” role as a spiritual advisor and workshop leader. Using a technique she calls Roar!, she custom designs her workshops to suit the needs of the audience requesting her guidance.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home