Bill Holder was looking through a kitchen drawer searching for his barbecue tools. He was about to cook dinner for his wife, Melissa, and their boyfriend, Jeremy, following an afternoon at the park.
Holder and his wife, Melissa, have been married 14 years and have two teens and a six-year old child. They live a polyamorous lifestyle, not to be confused with polygamy, which means marrying more than one person, or even swinging, because, they explain, polyamory is about love.
The trailer sits alone on a hill about 10 miles outside of town, tucked into the rolling farmland, obscured by trees from the gravel road running below. The green-and-white rectangular box is unremarkable, except for what federal authorities say happened inside.
This is the trailer where, according to a federal indictment, a mentally deficient woman was held as a sex slave and tortured for years, subjected to stomach-churning cruelties, the center of acts called by the U.S. attorney "among the most horrific ever prosecuted" in this part of Missouri.
Knowing this, the trailer suddenly looks different — sinister. Evil, even.
But step inside the trailer, talk with the last person living there, and another story unfolds. Visit people around this small town, a conservative "church town" midway between Rolla and Springfield, and that damning picture becomes less clear. Listen to the waitresses, store clerks and acquaintances who know the people at the heart of this case, and you can hear their doubt, even as they cast a disapproving eye on what took place.
"They no more held that woman captive than a man on the moon," says Lorrie Bredvick, 46, who runs La Mexican Kitchen restaurant in town and got to know the woman over several years as a frequent patron who shared shocking details from her private life. "She was very proud of what she did."
Yet experts say sex trafficking cases can project appearances that camouflage what is truly taking place.
"Traffickers really know how to manipulate people and their circumstances so it is not easily seen," said Suzanne LeLaurin, head of the St. Louis human trafficking coalition and a senior vice president at the International Institute in St. Louis, which helps trafficking victims. ...
Just as there are many different forms a polyamorous relationship can take, there are many different reasons people choose polyamory. We're not always conscious of the reasons we do things, and sometimes we even make up reasons which have little to do with our real motivations.
What your daughter and her husband are doing is definitely an experiment, but not necessarily a doomed one; many poly relationships last for years, and there are lots of communities online and off to help polyamorists learn the communication and logistical skills they need.
We moderns tend to think of sexuality as the province of more-or-less monogamous couples, bound together by bonds of love, romantic possessiveness, and jealousy. But according to Sex at Dawn authors Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha, before 10,000 years ago the basic human sexual unit may not have been the couple at all, but rather the small nomadic hunter-gatherer group. Because nature provided for all their needs in abundance, these early humans would have had no modern concept of ownership or property. Everything would have been shared with the group, including sex. Sexual promiscuity would have been the rule rather than the exception.
Few mainstream therapists would contemplate trying to persuade a gay man or lesbian to "grow up, get real, and stop being gay." But most insist that long-term sexual monogamy is "normal," while the curiosity and novelty-seeking inherent in human sexuality are signs of pathology. Thus, couples are led to believe that waning sexual passion in enduring marriages or sexual interest in anyone but their partner portend a failed relationship, when in reality these things often signify nothing more than that we are Homo sapiens...
Discovery is producing a new documentary series for Discovery Health Channel that explores pregnancy through the eyes of various expecting mothers. For this installment, we would like to feature a woman in a poly family, due to give birth between June and August of this year. The goal of this episode is to illustrate a nurturing, alternative family group as they welcome in a new life.
$1500.00 will be awarded to each of our expecting mothers for their participation, which consists of five, non-consecutive days of filming. It is my hope that you will present this opportunity to the members of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom.
Interested parties may contact me directly via phone or email. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them. Sirens Media produces award-winning series for Discovery, Bravo, TruTV and Animal Planet. For more information please visit www.sirensmedia.com.