I was born in Sao Paulo. Brazil in 1953. At age 23, I was married in a spectacular wedding to the grandson of NY Senator Henry Manning Sage. 4 months later we were abducted from our home at 3:00AM by corrupt police. At the time we had no idea they were police. We were never charged with any crime. We were separately kept in a dungeon prison for 45 days. We were both raped, starved, beaten and tortured; both physically and emotionally (we were forced to watch as they killed a man). We were released after my family paid a $400K bribe. Following our release, but unknown at the time we both suffered from PTSD. Yet as was common in those days, we were told to "not ever talk about it", to "put it behind us" and to "move on" with our lives. Sadly, our marriage failed. There was no counseling. I got pregnant in an effort to salvage our marriage. Nothing worked. I was terrified of living and raising our son in Brazil. In 1979 when our son was 18 months old, I fled Brazil with him and a small weekend bag for each of us. I was alone and knew no one.
Once in the US I struggled with suicidal thoughts, (thankfully deciding against it for my son’s sake) I drank, used drugs and had meaningless sex as coping mechanisms. We'd gone from living in an 8,000 sq foot home with maids, to living in a migrant-labor housing apartment in Encinitas, CA where I worked as a maid and a waitress, on food stamps. I was able to come to the US because my mother was an American and my father though also born in Brazil was an American citizen as well. For close to 35 years, I never spoke about my experience. I just wanted peace and freedom.
In 1982 my life changed when I met my second husband, who took care of me and loved me and we’ve been married since. I went on to have my own career, including being the Executive Director of a SC Chamber of Commerce, a newspaper columnist, a riding instructor, the first female GM of a men’s professional hockey team in 1992 and a VP of Franchise Sales in 2006.
In 2000 my ex-husband committed suicide. He had never recovered.
In 2010 I began practicing yoga and one class was about forgiveness. In that class my teacher spoke these words; "Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that your life could ever be any different." I went home, sank into the shower crying until I couldn't cry anymore. I realized I had to do something, or I would never fully heal. I decided to write my story and wrote the first draft in 3 days.
In 2013 I was invited to NY to give my testimony to the Brazilian National Truth Commission at the UN in the hope that my testimony along with that of others (2000 survivors who had suffered as I had), would force Brazil to overturn a law that, to this day, protects its torturers from prosecution. That law still stands and the recommendations of the truth commission were buried and forgotten.
While investigating my case the truth commission discovered that my father was US Military Intelligence (today CIA). They believe my abduction was retaliation. Today, corruption, murder, rape, torture and other human rights abuses go on every day in Brazil sanctioned by the government. Reporters are murdered if they dare to speak out.
I want to share my story with the hope that by raising awareness change can overturn that law. I'm determined that this change must come.
I'm hopeful that someone reading this post may have an interest in my story and be able to help. Laws must change and countries where corruption reigns must be stopped. The US is strong and powerful and can sanction countries who mistreat their citizens. No one ever wants to leave their home. But many times I is a life or death choice.
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