Last September, I told the story of Kristen Stillman. She'd survived incredible horrors while imprisoned in a home in northwest Denver, where her mother had left Kristen and Will, her twin, when they were just eight. Eric Torrez, the head of that household, tortured the twins, raping Kristen and fathering the four children she gave birth to before she was twenty.
Today, Will will tell his story.
Will and Kristen, now 23, were both originally scheduled to speak at "Survivors, the Kristen and Will Stillman Story," at 11 a.m. today at the Tivoli Multicultural Lounge, 900 Auraria Parkway; they've also filmed a segment with Anderson Cooper that is slated to air this month. But a year after she gave up her four children by Torrez, children whose care she'd been billed for by the Denver Department of Human Services, the agency that should have kept Kristen and Will safe when they were children, Kristen is moving to Wisconsin to be with the father of her new baby.
Will will be speaking alone.
Like Kristen, Will survived unspeakable psychological and physical abuse. Torrez beat him, starved him, tortured him -- and when he tried to tell teachers, police officers, anyone else in a position of authority, "nothing happened," he remembers. So he's telling his story because he hopes that going public could help other children, could convince adults to listen and take action. Once the twins found a police officer who'd actually listen to their story, Torrez and the rest of his family were charged, with Torrez eventually sentenced to 300 years in prison.
"That's the only reason I agreed to do the thing for CNN," he says. "I'm very interested in doing anything I can to help."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
When members of the national media interview the twins, they always seem more interested in Kristen's story, Will notes -- "but it's sad but true. That stuff happens to boys, too... They want to ignore that stuff happening, because it's kind of disturbing."
Like Kristen, Will is building the family he never had. His girlfriend is due on September 30, and they know the baby will be a boy. Already, Will is thinking about the dangers out in the world, the people who will hurt children -- and the people who will ignore their cries. He wants to keep his boy safe, Will says: "I don't want him to leave my sight."
Today's talk, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by Metro State Student Activities, CU Denver Student Life and CCD Student Life.
More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Denver boot patrol gives booted bride unwanted wedding gift on no-longer-safe Saturday."