The Honest Testimony of a Woman Held Captive by Her Husband

 Anderson Cooper has an exclusive interview that lays bare the experience and thinking behind severe domestic abuse.

Until 1999, Laura Cowan was kept as a literal prisoner by her husband, who told her that polygamy and the brutal treatment she endured were all a normal part of Islam and there was nothing she could do. Despite being cut off from as much outside contact as her husband could manage, Ms. Cowan still managed to smuggle out a letter that testified to the inhuman treatment she and her children were subject to, and was rescued by police.

Now, Anderson Cooper has done an exclusive interview with Ms. Cowan, which provides chilling insight into the realities, and the psychology, of severe domestic abuse. It includes Cowan’s reunion with the police sergeant who investigated her case and helped get her out. Most powerfully, it also includes scans of Ms. Cowan’s actual letters, the documents she literally risked her life to create and smuggle out of her imprisonment.

I will confess to a certain voyeuristic guilt at reading those scans, as though I were peering in on someone else’s tragedy as a mere curiosity, but that impulse is little more than leftover Victorianism. This kind of crime, which is going on right now in more places than anyone knows about, needs silence to function. It needs to be ignored, swept under the rug. It thrives on people who’d rather mind their own business than ask about that really suspicious behavior they’ve seen. The more these stories are made public, the more people may realize “I think this explains what’s going on in that house down the block.”



About Noah Brand

Noah Brand is a writer and editor, and quite possibly also a cartoon character from the 1930s. His life, when it is written, will read better than it lived. He is usually found in Portland, Oregon, directly underneath a very nice hat.


  1. Thank you Noah Brand for posting my story in your article. Victims of abuse can be found in all social and economic classes and can be of either sex. They can be wealthy, educated, and prominent as well as under-educated and financially destitute. Victims of domestic violence live in rural towns, urban cities, subsidized housing projects, and in gated communities. The over representation of underprivileged women in domestic violence crime reports may be due to several factors, including the fact that those seeking public assistance or services are subject to data tracking trends that often capture this information.
    If communities are dedicated to ending domestic violence, they must strive to hear the voices of adults and children who suffer from abuse so that a collective agenda of building healthy, safe, and stable families can be accomplished.

    • Thank you so much for lighting the way and doing your part to help end the stigma of allowing this sort of crime to continue because of cultural fear and discomfort by society.
      Bless and I hope when I get the chance I can shine my courage so less women will suffer directly & indirectly.
      Bless X

  2. Yes, awareness matters.


  1. […] note: We wish again to emphasize that Ms. Cowan has suffered horrific abuse in her own past, and that her contribution of this narrative should not be read as condoning the […]

  2. […] This is a comment by Laura Cowan on the post “The Honest Testimony of a Woman Held Captive by Her Husband“. […]

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