Michelle Stevens says she was “trained to be a sex slave” and locked in a dog cage by her stepfather when she was eight years old. She is now sharing her horrifying experiences of abuse, and her attempt to help other survivors.
In the opening pages of her new book, Scared Selfless: My Journey From Abuse and Madness to Surviving and Thriving, Stevens, 48, describes her stepfather, Gary Lundquist, holding her captive in a dog crate and sexually abusing her.
In the book, Stevens writes that the chain of events began with a doll. Her mother put an antique doll on layaway, and took young Michelle with her every time she made payments.“Frankly, at eight years old, I didn’t think much of this. Little did I know I was being stalked,” she wrote.
Gary Lundquist was a fifth-grade teacher who owned the store as a side business, and soon struck up a romance with Michelle’s mom. Stevens and her mother ended up moving in with Lundquist, who was obviously “more interested in Michelle than her mother.”
Stevens remembers the first time she was abused. She said that she was dressed in a nightgown, ready for bed, when her stepfather told her that she could be his “daughter.” She said, ” I hear the heavy thud of male feet. He’s back. As his feet move across the floor above me, I become paralyzed…. This is terror.”
She revealed that Lundquist asked to take a photo of her in her nightgown. “I nodded. I still have the photo. It shows a petite girl with long brown hair and bangs lying flat on a bed. She has milky white skin and thin pink lips set in a shy smile.”
Chillingly, Stevens adds:
“There is an innocence to this small child, a trusting vulnerability that pains me today. Still, it is a picture I cherish. I mean, how many people can say they know exactly how they looked at the last moment of their childhood?”
Stevens claims that Lundquist abused her while she was naked and confined to a tiny cage that had metal bars and was “just big enough to sit up with my legs stretched out or lie in a fetal position,” the passage reads. She referred to it as a “dog cage – the kind they use to crate puppies” and said Lundquist would lock the padlock while she was inside.
She reveals that her personalities split, and she ultimately developed amnesia while trying to forget the years of rape, torture, sex rings, and child pornography at Lundquist’s hands.
She finally escaped her tormentor when she left home for college at New York University, where she began to experience panic attacks. She graduated from college and moved across the country to Los Angeles.
Eventually, with the help of a therapist, the memories began to come back.
Though he was sentenced to three years’ probation in 1985 for engaging in sexual conduct with two girls at the school where he taught, Lundquist died in 1997 without ever answering for the years he assaulted Stevens.
“I was a victim, and I understand that now,” she told People. “But the stigma around mental illness is enormous. And the stigma around multiple personalities is off the chart.”
Now living in Southern California with her wife, Chris, and raising their 11-year-old son, Mikey, Stevens is looking forward to inspiring other survivors. In 2012, she graduated with a PhD in psychology, and her book is based on her dissertation.
Main photo: Michelle Stevens [Michelle Stevens PhD/YouTube (screenshot)]