CLEVELAND (WHERE ELSE?)—Cleveland resident Jerome Cannon is coming to terms with the fact that his notoriously cruel relationship behavior is an effort to hide the deep-set insecurities he holds, as well as the family of four he has bound and gagged in his basement.
“It’s a frustrating cycle. Things will be going great, but as soon as a woman starts to get too close to me, I feel myself putting up walls and saying things that I know will upset her. I guess it’s a defense mechanism,” Cannon said. “Plus, if she were ever comfortable enough to go poking around my house, she might hear them yelling for help.”
Over the course of the past two years, Cannon says, he has developed strong feelings of self-loathing. Also during those two years, Cannon took hostage the Aker family from the neighboring town of Parma. These two major life changes, Cannon believes, may be at the root of his inability to be a supportive, loving partner.
“I guess I just don’t love myself enough right now to let anyone else love me. I worry that if she gets to know the real me, or if she ever realizes that I have a secret door in my basement that leads to a windowless room with four malnourished prisoners inside, she’ll leave me.” Cannon went on to note that he is specifically worried that a potential partner may doubt his intellectual abilities, his potential to provide a dependable income, or the morality of forcing the Aker family to perform humiliating song and dance routines in exchange for fresh clothes every month.
“I’ve started to see how I’m hurting my own relationships. For example, last week, I was spending time with a girl I’d been seeing. We were having fun, but before I could stop myself, I made a comment about how her legs looked stubby, and she left immediately. Thank goodness, because she had been here all day and I couldn’t bring the kids water until she was gone.”
Looking to the future, Cannon admits that he must change. To improve his self-image, he plans to engage in volunteer work and daily exercise. As for the family he keeps in his basement, Cannon says he will consider introducing them “if the right girl comes along.”
Originally Published: February 2014