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"John doesn't want you to mention you were raped by a cop."

In The Belly of the Beast

By Tiffany Hyatt Theriot

When I got on the plane to fly to New York City, to be a guest on the John Walsh Show I was just one woman with one story. I felt alone, but I was not afraid. I had no expectations, but I had hope. I thought that maybe if I can touch or inspire one other woman to be strong in the face of adversity by sharing my story I would have accomplished a great thing. Little did I know that I would leave New York with a battered spirit. I had been harrassed, humiliated, belittled and used, all by a group of people who had promised to protect and encourage me. As a sick and uneasy feeling settled in the bottom of my stomach, I felt the self-doubt and questions about what did I do wrong creeping through my brain. But soon I realized that I DID NOTHING WRONG!, and all of that self-doubt and uneasiness suddenly turned into seething fury and anger at the people who had betrayed me.

I like many other people had a great respect for John Walsh, for the tragedy he had lived through, and the way he chosen to turn his grief into a crusade to help others. But I think he has either let his public image distort his connection with the human condition, or he has lost touch with his own personal integrity. Why else would he allow two women who have suffered through so much abuse,and tragedy, to be abused on his show in front of a live audience. Only someone less than honorable would permit such insult to his guests. No matter what set-up or plans were devised behind the scenes, John Walsh himself has control over what transpires on his show when the cameras are rolling, and he did nothing to stop the gross display of inconsiderate, ignorant, uncivilized, abuse that was thrown at Lisa, Maria and myself.

I would like to share with you the course of events as I saw it from the bowels of the belly of the beast (The John Walsh Show), because as I have been reading many angry publications about the outcome of the show, I have read many lies that were given as official statements by a representative of the show.

Sylvia, Lisa, another guest and I were picked up at noon the day of the taping and brought to NBC. We were brought to separate green rooms to wait until it was time for our show to be taped. Lisa and I were luckily placed in the same room, and this is where we first had a chance to talk and meet each other. We instantly bonded because she is one of those unique people that are so genuine, honest and caring you can't help but to reach out to her. Soon Jennifer, who I believe is one of the production assistants, came and removed us to another room so we could go over the questions John would ask us and rehearse our answers. Everything appeared to be standard, and I felt very comfortable. Then someone asked Jennifer to step out into the hallway.

John Walsh is widely recognized as a tireless advocate for victimís rights and missing children as host of the nationís number-one crime-fighting show, Americaís Most Wanted

When she left the room we could hear them talking right out side the door, and we were shocked to hear a conversation about how much Sylvia was going to be paid for her lost wages while she was in New York. No one had offered to compensate us for our lost wages. We had just come to the show with the hope that our story would inspire other women to be strong and take action not abuse. When Jennifer came back into the room she told us once again that this was not a debate but a show about our individual stories of courage.

I was then sent to hair and make-up. That is where I met Maria and her two beautiful girls. After we all looked stunningly beautiful, it was time to return to the green room to wait, and wait and wait. For some reason the taping was delayed, but this only gave the production staff more time to prep us and answer our questions. I can't count the amount of times we were reassured that we would only be telling our stories of inspiration to John and maybe answering a few questions from the audience.

As the golden hour finally approached we had a meeting with Andrew the producer. Before he came in we were told to look perky and full of energy, because he gets worried if the guests don't look energetic. Well, if any one of you had sat in the same room for six hours you would look a little less than perky, don't you think? Despite our effort to look "perky" apparently that was not good enough, so Andrew decided to spice things up a bit. He asked me and Lisa to tell more dramatic details of our abuse and trauma. Soon we were both holding back the tears. I think Andrew liked that.

Then we were told to interact with each other during the show if we had questions or comments for the other ladies. No problem. But apparently Sylvia interpreted that as carte blanche to leave her manners in the green room, (if she had any in the first place. Hmm... I doubt it.) Now, as we were lining up in the hallway to the entrance of the studio, waiting "excitedly" to meet John Walsh and to have our microphones checked for sound, Maria heard someone thanking a surprise guest for coming on such short notice. She was from the Million Mom March. And contrary to a statement given by the show, she was being wired with a microphone.

Let the lies begin. So not only was Maria told not to mention that she was affiliated with Second Amendment Sisters, but I was told not to mention that I was sexually assaulted by an off-duty police officer. They said, "John doesn't want you to mention you were raped by a cop.", and to Maria, "John doesn't want you to mention you are with Second Amendment Sisters, and he doesn't want you to talk about numbers and statistics, just tell your personal story." The stage was being set for our attack.

My last measure of hope was in John himself. Jennifer said John is in control of what happens once the taping begins, and I knew that he would treat us with dignity. He has done many shows about Baton Rouge and what we are all going through because of the Serial Killings, and I thought that would warrant me some level of respect. I guess not. Maybe if he could go back in time and ask the five women in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, who had been beaten to death, strangled, and had their throats slit if they wished they had a gun to defend themselves, would he have treated them with the same disgrace and disregard. Or does he prefer stories about dead women over women trying to preserve life for everything it is worth. Needless to say after this point all hell broke loose when taping began, and everything we were told not to do, John or some other invited guest did to us.

John started talking about statistics, he walked over to the lady from the Million Mom March and agreed and encouraged her to thrust her statistics and opinions down our throats, he never let Lisa finish her story, and he let Sylvia run her mouth like an untrained, unchained dog, but most of all he turned the show into one about children and guns. His point seemed to be that women are not qualified or capable of handling the responsibility of owning a firearm, without contributing to kids killing kids. He allowed us to sit on the stage so that we could be blasted with accusations, but he showed pictures of my children, and used Maria's children to his advantage without any thought of how the outcome of the show would hurt them.

We are all wonderful, devoted mothers who would never endanger our children. It seemed that our children were more hurt by John Walsh than they will ever be by a gun. Why didn't he ask Sylvia the former criminal and thug about her children. She was so poorly raised (she said on the show her father was a hustler) and she was a gang member (she referred many times to her "homeboys"), that I am sure she is not the kind of role-model John would want influencing his own children. But yet he encouraged her to continue her blithering display of ignorance. Was he simply amused at her stupidity, as we all were, or was he oblivious to the humiliation he was allowing us to suffer through?

Either way what's done is done. We can not go back and change the course of events that brought us to this point today, but I can speak out to all who want to know what happened that day and seek the truth. Owning a gun is my choice. It was an informed decision that I made after being the victim of a violent sexual assault, which was committed by an off-duty police officer, (who is still on the force), and because of the serial killer who is picking off women in my city like rats in a freshly cut cane field. I feel there is no other choice but to be armed, alert and prepared for anything. I guess anything that is except for talk show hosts who lure their unsuspecting guests into a pit of snakes.

Since the show was taped I have had several weeks to wonder what I would or could have done different that fateful Thursday in New York, only to realize that I am not the one who needs to change at all. I believe if anyone should do anything different it should be John Walsh, himself. He needs to take a stand one way or the other and get down off of the fence.

Either he is pro-women responsibly arming themselves against an attacker or anyone who wishes to harm them by using a firearm if necessary, or he is against women responsibly arming themselves with a firearm, against an attacker or anyone who wishes to harm them-, and would rather see them physically struggle in some form of hand to hand combat with a man who has twice or three times their strength, or perhaps use a stun-gun which would probably knock her to the ground as well, or maybe he would ultimately prefer that women only be allowed to carry Mace by law (then maybe all of the children would stop killing each other).

Whatever. Is this his idea of female Natural Selection (only the lucky ones will survive) or just his idea of politically correct gender discrimination? If John Walsh is the honorable man he professes to be then he will right this wrong he has committed and apologize formally on his show for the emotional trauma he inflicted and allowed to be inflicted by others upon Lisa, Maria, myself, and our children. We will see what he represents; friend or foe.

Tiffany Hyatt Theriot

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