"Trump reminds me of my dad, the serial killer," Kerri Rawson writes.
By Kerri Rawson
“I THINK I have the best temperament or certainly one of the best temperaments of anybody that’s ever run for the office of president. Ever. I’ve been nice, but after watching that performance last night, such lies, I don’t have to be so nice anymore. I’m taking the gloves off, right, yes? Just remember this, Trump is going to be no more Mr. Nice Guy.”
“Normally, I’m a pretty nice guy. I’m sorry, but I am. You know, I’ve raised kids, had a wife, you know, president of the Church, been in Scouts. It goes on and on. But, yeah, I have in mean streak in me, so. And it occasionally flares up, takes control.”
After nearly four years of living under the sniveling pandering of Donald John Trump, the former quote is easily recognizable. The latter? Belongs to my dad, Dennis Rader, whom I lived with for 26 years, carefully treading around his ever-changing tempers, moods, and whims, as if navigating littered broken eggshells. As he says in the quote, Dad is a father of two, was a husband for 34 years, a Scout leader and church president—and the BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill) serial killer.
I grew up idolizing my dad, toddling after him, my little hand clinging to his rough calloused one, gardening, fishing, camping. As a young adult, I hiked next to him for a week in the depths of the Grand Canyon, encouraging each other on. Six years after that, he, nearly in tears, walked me down the aisle. I often called him my best friend. He taught me about life, inner strength, and doing the right thing. He embraced me in bear hugs, taught me how to wrap a fishing line, and uproaringly fun, sent me crowd surfing at college football games.
Yet on bad days, Dad came home moody and dark, raging like a storm, demanding control: rigid obedience. Dad expected my brother and me to toe the line, and we knew at a young age to rarely ever cross it. Early on, I learned how to dodge and manage him by watching my mom: take the blame, apologize quick—let him have his way. He punched emotional and verbally abusive holes into me that I will never fully recover from. He attempted to strangle my young adult brother in front of Mom and me—twice. We knew he could be a brute, but we thought that was the worst of it. We had no idea that we’d spent three decades living with a serial killer. He lived every day of his life with us as a lie. He betrayed us, and ultimately destroyed his family, his last victims.
In 1974, Dad murdered four members of a family, including two children. After that, he murdered six more women. He lived a double life for 31 years, until finally, trapped within his own narcissistic follies, he was caught by law enforcement, pleading guilty in 2005 to ten counts of murder. He’s currently serving a life sentence of 175 years in solitary confinement in a maximum-security Kansas prison.
Dad had been locked away 11 years by the time 2016 and the rising Republican spectacle hit. At first I watched it with detached humor, but that quickly changed to aghast horror, as I realized Trump was a serious contender. Recogizing what Trump was, I became rolling ill to the pits of my stomach.
Trump was Dad. Dad was Trump.
Trump wasn’t just a corrupt, immoral, piss poor choice for any leader, let alone the highest office in the world—he was extremely dangerous, a threat to every living person on this planet; they needed to be warned.
I took up my cause to social media, especially Facebook, where I had long friendships, some going back decades, with many conservative Evangelicals who voted Republican. I knew I was up against “family values,” but I also knew these were good people who knew my story and knew what my dad was. I assumed they would listen to me. I was sadly mistaken. I got called a “lib,” rejected over my support of the LGBTQ community, berated for my pro-choice stances, and overwhelming was told: “No way am I voting for that lady.”
In the fall of 2016, it became clear that not only was Trump a serial philanderer, but also a sexual assailant and rapist, possibly even of under aged children. When the “grab the p” tapes came out, I couldn’t imagine anyone actually voting for him, let alone the “family value” folks. But in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, while taking in the fall colors, my family passed many large red and white “Make America Great Again” signs, thumbing their noses at us. Fear crept up—our country was in trouble. Not long after, I sat stunned on election night, tears rolling down my face as the white map turned red. They, my beloved friends, had held those thumbed noses and voted Trump.
The first winter after the election, I fell into depression. It didn’t seem real. How could this vile man have been chosen to lead our great country and the greater free world? How could my fellow countrymen have voted for him? Was I the only one who saw him for what he is? I was alone, stumbling, lost in the dark.
I’ve been waiting every day since that night on the couch, tears pooling, for the immense travesty of Donald Trump to be rectified. It’s not just as we have come to learn now, that a mobbed-up criminal and his minions have been installed into the White House by our enemies; it’s that a pathological liar, a malignant narcissist, a psychopath is leading the free world.
Trump is Dad and Dad is Trump.
“I can barely stand to listen to Trump speak.” I’ve heard it over and over from survivors of abuse, especially those who have survived living under a sadistic narcissist. I’ve felt the same way since 2016. If you line up quotes of my dad’s and Trump’s next to each other, I would have a hard time telling them apart.
“With the Oteros and Bright, all of the males were put down quickly (or I tried to) before I prepared the females. If during my crime run, a male happened to be there or to come in, he would be killed very quickly.” —Dennis Rader, Confession of a Serial Killer
“If he can in any way profit from your death, he’ll facilitate it, and then he’ll ignore the fact that you died.” —Mary Trump, Too Much and Never Enough
Dad gets off on stalking, torturing, and murdering people: your mothers, sisters, daughters, brothers, husbands, sons. The older textbooks call him a Sexual Sadistic Psychopath; the newer ones talk about NPD: Narcissistic Personality Disorder; ASPD: Antisocial Personality Disorder; and Sadism.
Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, a clinical psychologist, writes in Too Much and Never Enough: “I have no problem calling Donald a narcissist—he meets all nine criteria as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), but the label gets us only so far.” Mary goes on to say that “a case could be made that [Donald] also meets the criteria for antisocial personality disorder, which in its most severe form is generally considered sociopathy but can also refer to chronic criminality, arrogance, and disregard for the rights of others.”
“They could ID me. I wore no mask. I felt like leaving them as they were, but something Dark told me to murder them.” —Dennis Rader, Confession of a Serial Killer
Trump admitted to Bob Woodward on March 19 that he deliberately minimized the danger. ‘I wanted to always play it down,’ the president said. ‘I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.’”
In their final interview, on July 21, Trump vented to Woodward: ‘The virus has nothing to do with me. It’s not my fault.’”
“If Bob Woodward thought what I said was bad then he should have immediately, right after I said it, gone out to the authorities so they can prepare.” —Donald Trump, 9/10/20
A bully, abuser, predator, sadist, narcissist, psychopath, sociopath: choose your word for what my dad is, what Trump is. They want to blame anyone other than themselves for their horrific choices. My father stood in court in front of surviving family members and blamed the victims that he murdered for their own deaths. Trump, with his passive inaction, or intentional total disregard for human life, has so bungled the covid response that he now has over 200 thousand American deaths on his hands, yet wants to blame the journalist who interviewed him.
Forensic psychiatrist Bandy Lee, author of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, writes, “We are facing a democide of genocidal proportions, because we have handed power to someone who is anti-human in psychology. When criminality combines with mental pathology, this kind of large-scale violence becomes possible. This bottomless need to place his own psychic survival above any protection of the public should rather be a warning. This means he would be equally inclined to destroy the nation or the world—which he has the power to do—if he were to feel humiliated from the loss of an election, for example.”
Trump isn’t insane, and I’m not sure he’s suffering from dementia, either. He’s in control of what he wants you to see, where and when—it’s all a big game. Why are we not catching predators like my dad quicker, and why has no one put Trump behind bars yet? One reason: they hide right next to us. They blend well, function more highly than we expect, and they can stop; they have gaps. Another key reason: they have the ability to express and feel a wide range of normal human emotion. At least in the case of my father: love and empathy.
People can’t swallow that a murderer of children can love. So they dismiss it, narrowly placing someone like my father into one category. When they do this, they miss his true modus operandi, skipping over suspects. Dad was never looked at once in 31 years, until a week before his arrest.
It’s not that someone like my father has no ability to have empathy or love, it’s that he has the ability to turn the switch off. Thus, he easily crosses moral lines that most folks would never come near. In my father’s words, he “cubes.” Switching and controlling personas, what he wants you to see and how he decides to interact. He mimics and mirrors what he thinks you want to see. But under the infinite cube of masks is a real person with a range of true emotions. That’s who we need to study and learn, so we can stop them from causing so much harm.
“Donald’s failings cannot be hidden or ignored because they threaten us all.” —Mary Trump, Too Much and Never Enough
As we near the election, I expect Trump to continue to ramp up his insanity, pushing what he can to continue to capture his diminishing base. A cornered predator has little to lose. As the enormous strain of being near the end of being useful as a bought-out chaos agent by our enemies, and with the protections of being the President soon to be lifted, I expect Trump to become more and more unstable, vile, and dangerous. We must stay on vigilant watch, continuing to call him out on his lies.
Abusers like my dad and Trump insist on loyalty, allegiance, control; they will go to great lengths to pound these demands into those around them. They want to cut us off, make us feel alone, afraid, stumbling around in the dark, or worse, to give up entirely. They derive pleasure and power from our pain, and if we die in the process, so much the better.
Almost four years later, I can still feel the hopelessness of election night and the dark, empty months after. Yet even on our darkest days, like the 2017 Charlottesville riots, hope can be found if you look hard enough. That awful night, I found myself online searching for answers, and ran into like-minded Resistance folks. Their fight for what is right and just lifted my spirits. Over the past years, we’ve fought hard to hold the blue line: truth, justice, law, and light win out.
The election is six weeks from today. The fate of our country, its people, and the world lie in our hands. Joe Biden is an honest, decent man, with decades of experience. Biden, along with Kamala Harris, and their solid, experienced team can right this wayward ship before it’s too late. Don’t choose four more years under the jackboots of our oppressor.
Now is the time to choose our destiny: life, liberty, and the right to pursue happiness. Your well being, the well being of your children, and their children, depend on you making the right choice. We can take back our country and our lives, but we must decide to do it together. United, standing on the line of truth, our abusers stand no chance against us. Join me, let’s lock arms, and take back what’s rightfully, lawfully ours.
Kerri Rawson (@KerriRawson) is the author of A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming. Since her father’s arrest, Kerri has been advocating for victims of abuse, crime, and trauma.
Photo: Gage Skidmore. Photoshop: Greg Olear.