A married California couple were discovered to have kept 12 of their 13 children captive in what’s been referred to as a “house of horrors” last week.

But 20 years before David and Louise were charged with multiple counts of torture, abuse and false imprisonment, Lara Cowan was held captive and tortured along with a number of children by a man she was dating. Strikingly enough, the torture took place in the same city in which the Turpins resided: Perris, CA.

Cowan, who is now an advocate for victims of domestic violence, shared her story with Fox 8.

“He took me and my children and he locked us up in a garage for over six months,” she said.

Cowan and her two children were held hostage by the polygamist in 1998 along with his 13 children.

“They were all sitting on their knees staring at the wall,” she told the Los Angeles Times in 2011 of seeing the children for the first time. “They were like little robots.”

She also discussed her reaction upon hearing about the 12 children whose tragic lives mirrored her own.

“Oh my gosh, it was déjà vu all over, I couldn’t believe it,” the domestic violence advocate told the news station.

When her captor took her to the post office, Cowan slipped the postal worker a letter pleading for help.

“She looked at me and I looked at her and I was shaking, and I reached under my dress, I pulled my dress up in front of her and I pulled that letter out and I put it on the counter. The next day, she got help for us. It went to the sheriff’s department and they came and rescued us,” she said.

The same sherriff’s department that rescued Cowan and the children also saved the Turpin children.

In addition to her work with victims of domestic violence, Cowan also hosts Voice It, a weekly radio show of a weekly radio show dedicated to those suffering abuse at the hands of their partner.