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.