Former director of the Fleet and Family Supporter Center at GTMO, and newfound author Lara M. Sabanosh just released her new book – Caged: The True Story of Abuse, Betrayal, and GTMO. At first glance, you don’t quite know what to expect. The cover has an evocative image, specifically the lower-half of a woman’s face and a finger covering her lips. It’s not structured or marketed like a typical nonfiction book, Sabanosh knows how to present even in the face of something deeply personal and traumatic.


The book is an extensive recounting of the evolution of her life over the years in a professional and personal context, including her tumultuous relationship with her troubled ex-husband, Christoper Tur. Sabanosh is quick to point out the title is indicative of what many survivors of volatile domestic situations find themselves feeling. Lost, broken, and unable to escape. Bound to a narrative that is deeply dysfunctional, yet painfully tight-knit to the immediacy of their lives. Like any relationship in crisis, the signs start out small. Sabanosh spends as much time recounting those minute cruxes before going on to outline, bravely and without shame, the subsequent nightmares lying ahead.

The thoroughness of her recounting only adds to the credibility of a book like Caged. It simultaneously pulls you in because of its immediate, narrative content, while making you think about your own life. Particularly for women, it serves as something of a lesson on how to identify the critical markers signifying a relationship headed for decompensation. Probably one of the most sobering passages Sabanosh details in this regard is when she became pregnant with their first child. “…All through the pregnancy, Chris proved he still wasn’t inclined to back away from his extracurricular activities or worry about the growing amounts of our debt or bills,” she writes. “I was responsible for keeping tabs on preschool tuition and preparing for a new baby and all the financial commitment that brings. The abuse continued as well. One day, he hit me in my stomach, and I had to cancel an appointment with my obstetrician because he had left a bruise. I just kept hiding everything he was doing to me.”

She goes on to elaborate, “When (my second child) was born, Chris’s lifestyle continued to mirror that of a bachelor’s rather than a father of two. Chris still worked at his job, so there was no reason we couldn’t afford everything we needed, at least in his mind. But I watched our money leak out of our account as he frequented bars and other places with his friends at night, and I became resentful. It came to the point where we needed to take out a second mortgage because we were enjoying vacations and living via our credit cards rather than being responsible. I say ‘we’ because I wanted the vacations, too. I also didn’t want to rock the boat.” Needless to say, the repetition of the word decompensation would apply in droves here.


Suddenly, as Sabanosh steps out of herself in that period of time to note, she became a statistic she was fully aware of. She just never thought it would happen to her. The book does an extraordinary job at showing the claustrophobic transformation of one’s life when caught up in a cycle of abuse, claustrophobic particularly because of the strange inability many people have to walk away. Sabanosh never attempts to gloss over the pain of the past, but because of that the book reads as grippingly real, and uncompromisingly honest. That’s to be commended.

Kendall Townsend