In 1984, Lisa McVey was seventeen years old and working at a doughnut shop in Florida. When she wasn’t working, she was having to deal with her dysfunctional home life, including regular sexual abuse at the hands of a relative. One night, after ending her shift at work, Lisa hopped on her bicycle and rode off. At the time, she was fully intending to kill herself. Instead, she found herself being chased and eventually abducted by a man in a car. That man was Bobby Joe Long and, though Lisa didn’t know it at the time, he has already killed at least ten other women in the Tampa Bay area.
After kidnapping her, Long held Lisa prisoner for 26 hours. Keeping her bound and blindfolded, Long raped her repeatedly and planned to kill her. Lisa, however, managed to talk him out of it. By her own admission, she used the same techniques that she had previously used to survive the years of abuse that she suffered when she was a child. She promised him that she wouldn’t tell anyone what had happened. She told him that she understood that he wasn’t a bad guy and that she would even be his friend if he just let her go.
And that’s just what Bobby Joe Long did. He set her free. Lisa ran for home, not realizing that her family had reported her missing and that the police were looking for her. However, once Lisa reached her house, she discovered that neither her family nor the cops believed her. They assumed that she had run off with a boy and, when things didn’t work out, she came home and made up the kidnapping story to get out of trouble. The more Lisa tried to explain, the more the police doubted her….
That’s the story that was told in tonight’s Lifetime premiere, Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey. Usually, I tend to take a humorous (some would say “snarky”) approach when reviewing Lifetime films but that really wouldn’t be appropriate with this film. My friend, the writer Trevor Wells, compared this film to Cleveland Abduction and he’s absolutely right. Much like Cleveland Abduction, Believe Me tells the true story of one strong and underestimated woman who survived the worst experience possible and who, against all odds, managed to create light in the darkness. It’s not a pleasant film to watch but it is an inspiring one, one that offers up strength to any woman who has ever had to fight to be believed.
Katie Douglas gives a strong and empathetic performance as Lisa McVey. While the film doesn’t shy away from showing both what she experienced and her struggle with PTSD afterward, it also showcases the strength that helped her to survive both her Hellish childhood and Bobby Joe Long. It’s that same strength that caused her to never stop demanding that both the police and her family believe her.
Thanks to Lisa McVey, Bobby Joe Long was eventually captured. He’s currently sitting on Florida’s death row. As for Lisa, she is now a school resource officer and a motivational speaker.