The Endgame – A Memoir

Normalization of Internal Exploitation

The words that carry the most regret are poignantly short:
“If only I had known.”

I settled into my life and role. What choice did I have? Every time I reached out for help, people would either act dumb or become targets of the kidnapper I had been forced to live with. She used blackmail, threats, harassment, drugging, hardcore interrogation techniques that would leave even Gitmo workers questioning morality, manipulation, and when that failed – murder. 

She truly was the dark shadow that hung over my life. I felt profoundly personally responsible for each person harmed, and it tore at me. For years at a time, I ceased to reach out for help. I didn’t want to do further harm. It was bad enough when it happened to me. After all, that was inevitable. But I couldn’t stand to watch it be done to others. I still felt an underlying connection with humanity back then, and I could feel their pain on a deep and tangible level. 

So, I endured. 

On a self-preserving and less altruistic level, I was often scared to say anything when I was asked if I was okay. I would analyze each situation and reasonably assume that the person asking would not be effective in going against the recruiter to save me, even if I told them the truth. Their failed attempts and my admitting that I was uncomfortable with what was going on, at least to some degree, would risk my hard-earned reputation as completely willing, blind, and accepting of what I was trapped in. 

That reputation was important for my safety in the situation I was ”legally” obligated to remain in as a minor. It made me seem harmless and on the team of those who owned me, rather than appearing to be an enemy. In addition, more than any potential would-be savior, that hard-earned status was truly vital for any potentially effective future exit plans. I was going to have to crawl out on my own, but I was also going to need to use their activities as a launching pad for my plans, so that they would let me come along as an assistant, and I could then use the situation and their weight to get my own objective reached. As a tool, I needed to become a wielder of tools. It wasn’t easy from my position. All I had to work with was their trust in me. Reputation is always key. During those years, so were endurance and eternal patience. 

I did everything I could to protect the world from the people I was trapped with in that situation. I insulated strangers from it, I never invited my friends home, and I sacrificed myself more times than I can count – because I lived with the enemy. I knew their tactics, and outsiders didn’t. 

I also did it because I still had faith in humanity, thanks to memories of my mother in Argentina. Those memories and feelings of connection were the flame of life that kept me going through the darkness all those years, even as I was intentionally drowned and revived over and over again in a room beneath Yale New Haven Hospital, drowned for what purpose I will never understand. 

It’s possible that room saw even more human suffering than I did in those years. It was a large storage room, accessed via a somewhat active lower hospital hallway, and then a very short hall that branched from that. It was directly at the end of the short hall. The room was large enough to hold dozens of pieces of equipment. When near the back wall of that room, especially on the right side, I could hear the cars in the parking structure it must have shared a wall with. 

Because it was officially deemed a storage room, no one had to sign any lists, documents, or schedules to utilize it for their research purposes. It was an off-the-books medical lab right on Yale’s campus, in full sight of anyone who walked by. The best part of it, from a research perspective, was that allocating expensive or heavy medical equipment to it without approval was incredibly easy. All you had to do was send the equipment to storage, a process that required no oversight at all. 

The research I witnessed there went against humanity. However, not all of it was quite so dark. The room wasn’t only used by the recruiter’s professional cohort (although, they definitely had first priority). The paperless loophole that it provided was also being utilized by some of the university’s graduate students. In order to meet the unrealistically high expectations and reputation of Yale research proposals being of an almost clairvoyant level of accuracy in predicted outcomes, they actually needed to test their theories before asking an ethics board for approval to test them. They needed to ensure that the result of each proposal would lead to a success. The off-use lab was incredibly convenient for exactly that. And in all honestly, they may have used the room more. After all, military research doesn’t require the extra work of gaining an ethics board’s approval. It’s unethical by nature, and that is accepted because it is presumed any of the research is for the benefit of national security. 

One semi-example of the room’s use would be Charles Morgan’s utilization of it (if you remember, he was the one who would go on to be cited as a CIA psychiatrist in a Medscape article later in his career). While he was still a student, he utilized the room to test his “more humane” military interrogation techniques. He had a (now published) theory that people of certain ethnicities respond differently to coercive interrogation. I was there for that one… that or multiple students were fighting for foreigner interrogation grants during that time and I have him confused with one of the hoard. Either way, apparently my being from South America and the tiniest bit Iranian was enough to qualify me as a participant in that earliest research. 

Image Source: Yale Daily News

“School of Medicine Psychiatry Professor Charles Morgan has allegedly been conducting private research involving interview techniques with local immigrants using funding from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


‘I think the point is [Morgan’s research is] not done through Yale,’ Alpern said. ‘[Morgan is] what we call a volunteer faculty member, which means he’s not employed by us and he’s free to do whatever he wants to do outside of Yale.’”

Text Source: Yale Daily News

Unfortunately for me and my incredibly unlucky timing in life, some of my time at Yale overlapped with when he was a student at the university. 

Image Source: Yale School of Medicine

“Charles Morgan, MD

Associate Clinical Professor, Psychiatry

Education & Training

Forensic Fellowship – Yale University (2002)

MA – Yale University, History of Medicine (1996)”

Text Source: Yale School of Medicine

Because of the nature of the research that went on in the off-use laboratory, and the fact that I was sent down there on my own dozens upon dozens of times to assist and otherwise be a part of that research (the drownings come to mind, more on that in a bit), the recruiter felt the need to ensure that I didn’t talk about it. What she would do had happened hundreds of times before, to the point that I eventually knew each distinctive part of the routine. This is just one location and one example:

The entrance I used was in a smaller building. It had a security guard and a hall that inclined down for long enough that it likely extended beyond the footprint of that building. There, in the sublevel, it met with other halls that would lead to the off-use lab. One time, the recruiter came with me. She asked the security guard to show us footage of me entering the building by myself. He complied. He brought us into the security room with the monitors and found a recording of me entering the small lobby.

That’s when the recruiter started screaming at me. Her methodology was always to go at the subject as if it were not real, or as if we were talking about someone else’s experiences. She berated me and said things along the lines of “That is such an idiotic thing for her to do. Imagine if it had been you going through that lobby.” Then, as was standard, she next attempted to make me feel personally ashamed about the incident/location/being in the location (like I said, she had done this hundreds of times after bringing me places she didn’t want me to discuss). She would say something starting with “Who would do that? What is wrong with them?” and continue on that trajectory. I was then expected to react in shame and side with her, agreeing that only terrible people would have been there. At which point, I’d start lying for her, and claim I had not been there, and then attempt to convince her of such. Obviously, there were drugs in my system… At least, I seriously hope there were. I’d hate to think that a mind can be that easily broken without them. 

The interesting thing, in this case, was that we did it in front of the video recording, playing on a loop, of me entering that building. An hour or so into her screaming me down, I had become convinced (in that moment) that I had never been through that lobby on my own, despite the evidence playing out on the screen right in front of me.

As for the drownings, I would be asked to arrive with a bathing suit and towel for those days. One day in particular stood out to me more than the rest, because of the conversation and lack of drugging. As I stood in front of a jacuzzi tub taking up a fraction of the space in that large room, the researcher there told me to get in and then she said, “Don’t worry. We won’t be drowning you this time.” I always buried my reactions to everything, but that? Even I twitched at that. This time? That meant it had been done before. I got into the tub. Next, she began to lower a plastic sheet until it was nearly in contact with the water. She told me that I would only be revived if I behaved and died without a struggle. So, as the plastic sealed to the surface of the water, leaving no room for air, I submerged myself silently, held my breath, went still, and prayed they thought I was dead before I really was. My next memories were on that cement ground, outside the tub, coughing up water as someone stood above me. I don’t know how close to death I had come or if I had passed that threshold. 

The blonde girl I mentioned previously, whose family had been coerced into enrolling her as a research participant while believing they were signing her in for an opportunity to participate in camp activities and meet people of influence at Yale, I witnessed her dead body in a room in those same halls. She had never returned from beyond that threshold. While I had been revived after they drowned me, they could not revive her. Sometimes I wonder how many people have died from what I survived, and why they had to. And why I had to endure. There’s a saying, “There is no rescue crew.” It’s been incredibly true in my experience. 

I could only remember glimpses of those moments of my drowning, other than the one evening I mentioned, but my body remembered every single second of every single time. As I went through life, I would randomly feel like I couldn’t breathe, that I couldn’t get in enough air to breathe. It would hit me at any moment, with no warning at all. I went to my pediatrician in a panic one day when I was near his office and was convinced it was asthma. According to him, my lungs were fine, although he noted the possibility of child abuse when writing in my medical records. 

What I was experiencing wasn’t asthma. It was the lingering physical anxiety and reaction from those moments. I had developed a type of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) only referenced in literature on waterboarding victims in Guantanamo Bay. Later on, I actually felt a sense of relief in learning that my response was normal, despite the situation itself being abnormal. While looking for information on how to deal with the lingering effects years later, what I first saw was significant enough to me that I paused and screen-captured it. 

Image Source: Wikipedia, 2013 Screen Capture

“The patient…would panic and gasp for breath whenever it rained even years after the abuse.”

Text Source: Wikipedia, 2013 Screen Capture

To me, it meant I was okay. My reaction was natural. It was only the situation that was not. That was something I had needed to hear for an incredibly long time. 

Although I was an experienced and skilled swimmer (military camp did something right), I quit swimming in the year of the drownings. I haven’t enjoyed it since. As of this writing, the last time I went deeper than my waist was to save someone’s life, and that was seven years ago. 

I became a cigarette smoker shortly after my experiences with being drowned in that cavernous room. When I had a random unprovoked feeling of drowning, a cigarette would quickly open my lungs and reduce my anxiety enough for the feeling to fade. I became a chain smoker and remained one until I was twenty. Time has changed my response a little but I still reach for something outside of myself to save me from that sense of drowning. I also experience that panicked sense of not being able to fill my lungs completely less frequently now. It usually only hits when remembering the events. I’m currently drinking an iced coffee and praying it stops the coughing triggered by the memories from writing this, even though I know the only thing that will truly make the moment stop is to finish writing this section and move on to the next. 

Despite what I was put through, I still dragged through life, discovering that coffee was my greatest ally by the time I was fourteen years old. I spent my time often in the halls of Yale and Washington DC, left there to occupy myself while my kidnapper and others worked. I argued philosophy, ethics, and practicality with the people I met when it came to topics of control, governance, and exploitation of human resources. My arguments fell on deaf ears. I tried my best to advocate for the people that I still cared for. Without a tribe of my own, without a country of my own, I felt everyone’s pain. I wanted to create a better life for them where it mattered and where I was standing – where policies were formed. I was still young and naive, but I was also growing a spine due to sheer exhaustion. I could no longer maintain my fear of those with more power than I had. It took too much energy to do so. In my mind, we were already on the path to becoming equals.

I had an unparalleled amount of freedom and access, despite being a slave, or maybe because of it. There was no one there to worry if I came home at 3 AM unless I was needed for a task. No one told me “Don’t dive that deep!” or “That’s too high to jump from.” I had a natural survival instinct, but I was also young and unfamiliar with a conventional upbringing and expectations of caution. Many times, I went far beyond the traditional limits of safety.

That freedom would eventually lead me to stand on the sidewalk in front of Cutler’s Records with a friend at a late enough hour to run into the infamous Yale chemist, in the flesh. He came down the sidewalk, walking backwards. To this day, I have no idea if he was high on his own drugs or if he was attempting to trick the nearby Yale surveillance cameras. As he passed by, he slipped a small paper sachet of pills into my hand. I was never into pills. I didn’t trust them. But this was a chemist who was infamous, someone whom whispers about could be heard across the entire region. I kept the pills. He had too much clout. I couldn’t throw them away. What I had just experienced was the teenage equivalent of having Elvis or God walk by and hand you something.  

I held onto those pills for at least a week or two before finally getting up the nerve to take one. I was sitting on the grass, in the dark of night, in front of the Law Library with a friend. We both took a pill. My memory went flat. There’s nothing there. The next thing I remember was when we were briskly walking several blocks away near the train station. The moment we stopped walking, there was a memory blank. The next thing I would recall was walking from the train station to his friend’s house, half the state away. And that’s how the experience went. If my heart rate was high enough from anxiety or exercise, it would push me past the amnesia barrier and I’d have a memory from it. But everything between? Absolute dead space. 

That morning, as the sun rose, I came down from the drug and became aware of my surroundings on the beach. I was in the middle of a lengthy conversation with my friend. I couldn’t remember what we had been saying or how or when we had gotten there. 

But that experience? Every part of it lined up with hundreds of experiences I had with the recruiter. The chemist, by giving me the drug so I could ingest it knowingly, had allowed me to examine its effects and come to realize when I was being drugged and how to put the memories back together when it was over. He hadn’t handed me the LSD he was famous for. He had handed me his other prize drug that only the shadiest people request, the same one he had been disbursing to the woman who had been exploiting me ever since she had taken custody of me at the age of three.

Next: Stage 3: Deployment