By | November 30, 2011 6 Comments

BOOK REVIEW: Travis Vining writes about life with his serial-killer father and miracles

Editor’s note: The following article refers to spiritual concepts. Please read Lovefraud’s statement on Spiritual Recovery.

Most of us who have tangled with sociopaths have stories that our friends and families find hard to believe. Yet despite what we’ve been through, we know that some of us have been through far worse.

Travis Vining has one of those really bad stories. He’s written the book. Perhaps someday we’ll see the movie.

Travis wrote a series of articles for Lovefraud back in 2008, which you can find in the Travis Vining Category. He will begin contributing articles again, starting tomorrow.

Growing up with a sociopath

Travis’ father is a sociopath. But the man wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill sociopath, one who “only” cheats on his wife, abandons his children and runs up debts. Travis’s father, John B. Vining, is a serial killer. He is now on Florida’s death row for murdering four people.

Even worse, John Vining manipulated his son into acting as an accomplice. Eventually, Travis could no longer keep silent about what he knew—and suspected—about his father’s behavior. Travis gathered his courage and called the police tip line with information about the fourth murder. The police never called him back. But John Vining managed to get caught before he could commit another murder.

Travis tried to put everything behind him, and for awhile, it worked. In fact, Travis could no longer remember what his father had done. But he kept having serious health problems, including addiction to pain pills. Finally, when Travis was at rock bottom, the reason for his problems broke through—his repressed memories of a sociopathic killer.

With his life in a shambles, suffering from guilt and shame, Travis had only one place to turn—towards faith. This was a big change for him. Travis’ previous attitude towards matters of faith could only be called cynical. But out of desperation, he asked for help, and his prayers were answered. His new faith led to miracles.

Telling the story

Travis writes about all of it in his new book, Transforming Darkness to Light for Giving—Spiritual lessons from my life with a serial killer.

Beside the fact that Travis tells a shocking true crime story, I feel his book is important for two reasons. First of all, Travis describes growing up with a sociopathic father. As a child, of course, he looked up to his father. Yet he was always aware that his father’s attention was conditional, and disapproval could come at any time. Travis describes the confusion and mixed emotions of being parented, of sorts, by a sociopath. Anyone who grew up in a similar situation will find his words validating.

Secondly, Travis explains his spiritual journey from a place of despair to a place of brilliant miracles. He writes:

I always thought that faith was an intellectual decision to believe in something that you could not know and to live by the rules that go with that belief in hopes of being rewarded at the end of your life. This is how I understood faith and this concept seemed impossible. Now I was learning that by taking certain steps, and through the repetition of practicing certain principles in my life, that faith would come naturally. It was also something that I would not only come to know, but also feel and know intimately. I came to believe that the spiritual experience that I had was not an illusion, but a glimpse of heaven on earth. This state of grace had allowed me, for the first time, to experience life without the burden of fear, removing the main blocker between me and God.

Travis’ story has a happy ending. He has righted the wrongs in his life that were rooted in his upbringing with a devastating sociopath. He has forged ties with some family members of his father’s victims. And he is bringing healing to others facing similar trauma.

Transforming Darkness to Light for Giving—Spiritual lessons from my life with a serial killer is available in the Lovefraud Store.

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Ox Drover

Travis, thank you for sharing your story with others, and for the courage it took for you to do so. I am so glad that you were able to come to a spiritual and emotional healing, and for you to put your traumas behind you. God bless you. I will be looking forward to reading your book and more articles from you on LoveFraud.


Your story is an inspiration for those of us who grew up dealing with dysfunctional families. If you can overcome it, we can too.


Wow, I hope this is on Amazon for kindle! Very interested in reading it!


Donna, thank you for posting this article, particularly at this point and time.

Travis, I cannot imagine how you got from Point A to Point B. I mean that I seriously cannot imagine your journey and the incredible journey you’ve been on.

The discussion of faith – and, specifically, the loss of faith is extremely important to me, personally. I imagine that it may be a topic that is important to other survivors, as well.

All that I can say about my current level of “faith” is that I don’t know, one way or the other. It’s been nearly a year-to-the-date since I discovered what the exspath had kept hidden for longer than I had known him. Prior to that discovery, I believed that I had a strong connection with the Great Creator (God, Jehovah, Whomever). Within 30 seconds – the time it took to unzip a travel bag – my world (and, beliefs) were shattered. It took another few weeks to confirm that the exspath had been engaging in his “fantasies” by acting them out with (at least) one other person and, quite likely, many, MANY other people who entertained the same interests. What followed was a series of horrors in the Justice System, and within my personal experiences that resulted in a state of despair and dire health that truly tested my “faith.”

I’ve never been angry at Great Creator for my situation – he/she/it has nothing to do with mankind’s choice of free will. I have always believed that no Higher Power was going to zap me into a healing place, a job, a roof over my head, or any other necessity. I have maintained the belief that I would need to do all of this, on my own. I have a shaky belief that I’d been granted all of the necessary tools to accomplish this, but that it would be up to me to implement those tools, values, and talents to do this.

With regard to my “faith,” I want (desperately so) to “feel” that joyful abandonment, again. I want to feel At Peace, and I don’t know how to get there. I am settling in to my “new life” in a formerly despised place (more on that, at a much later date) and I am meeting up with a far better caliber of people, this time around. But, my “faith” is still absent without malice. It’s just not there, anymore.

I also don’t believe that Great Creator is going to strike down ANY spath with the fruits of their harvests. I don’t believe that Great Creator is going to shove Karma up to the exspath’s front door to slap him in the face with a rotten salmon. I don’t believe in the Legal System or “justice,” anymore. I don’t believe that the exspath will ever be held accountable for the sins and crimes that he’s committed, nor will he ever experience guilt and shame for the damages that he’s inflicted upon me, and others.

So….when I’m on my proverbial feet, again, I have a number of publications that I want to collect, and this will be one of them. I’ve lost a great deal that was important to me – house, car, friends, job, beliefs, etc., and the most precious thing that was stripped from me was my faith and spiritual wonder. I”ve lost that, and I don’t know how to get it back, even if it’s altered from what it once was.

Donna, again – thank you SO much for posting this article at this precise time.

Brightest blessings


Truthspeak I feel this way too.


The miracles are amazing.

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