|Here are some of the questions I was asked for the interview:
· What was the trauma or traumas you experienced?
I was violently raped at the age of 9 years old and repeatedly bullied by my older brother from as early as I can remember until February 2011.
· How did life change for you as a result of trauma?
I developed a condition called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which affected me until started being treated by my psychiatrist 14 years ago whom confirmed the OCD was a result of the trauma due to the rape. The year of the rape I was in the 3 rd grade and due to my deep depression and hiding it caused me to flunk that grade. Throughout my early life I feared the man would track me down and kill me as he threatened the day it happened. I lived in shame that there was something I may have done that caused this man to do this to me.
· Did the trauma impact your relationships with parents/kids/family?
Yes it most definitely did. First off my bullying/abusive brother beat me up that same day for leaving the department store without him because he was responsible for watching me. The first few years after the rape, I withdrew and held back from almost everyone.
· How did you cope in the aftermath? (Substance use, mental health concerns or others)
During my early teens I turned to alcohol and drugs to deal with the depression and to fit in with the other kids but for me it was a release to escape and cope with the rape.
· Were there any behavioral health (mental health and/or substance use) impacts from the trauma you experienced?
Yes, I developed a condition called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which was finally diagnosed by my psychiatrist years later when I was an adult who told me that this condition was clearly a result of the rape.
· Did you find close friends or family members to be helpful in the healing process? What aspects of the relationship(s) were helpful and healing?
· What helped you most in your own healing?
A few years ago my psychiatrist recommended that I start writing a journal because he felt it would help me therapeutically and make things clearer for me to see. It was the best thing I could of down because I started to share it with friends that I could trust that helped me see the patterns I developed and how I allowed everyone I loved control my life. This also allowed me to understand that I needed to break away from my family that was causing me so much pain.
· Where there times in your life – maybe during big life changes – where you felt that more healing needed to be addressed? What did you do?
Yes, in the past three years when my father became very ill and my brother, sister, mother and I had to become his primary care takers. This was about the same time I came out to my family about being gay. I could tell my family was not accepting of my life style but at the same time needed to be around them more because I agreed to help take care of my dad. Having to spend more time around my bullying brother made it worst at the same time I was in an abuse relationship with my ex-partner. I attempted to commit suicide twice which the last made me be committed to an outpatient psychiatric unit by my psychiatrist to deal with it. I also knew that to make myself better I needed to focus on me and break away from the people that were controlling my life to the point that I did not want to live any longer.
· Do you think that it is important for new and expecting parents to understand the nature and impact of trauma? If so, why.
Yes, because trauma is reality in life. We cannot control what happens but can be prepared when it does. Too many people do not educate the children on abuse and bullying and tend to ignore that they exist because it is a difficult issue to discuss with your kids. As parents it is our responsibility to teach our kids that there are bad people out in our world that can harm them and kids need to know how to defend themselves and not be afraid to tell their parents what is going on. Hiding my abuse from my family was the worst thing I could have down but at the same time my abuser threatened to kill me I was a kid and did not know any better. At that time had my school had education provided to me about abuse and bullying it would have allowed me to come to terms with it much sooner?
· What do you feel new and expecting parents most need to know about what it takes to stop thecycles of family violence?
Parents have to see the signs of sibling bullying and not just pass it by as kids acting out on one another. I was taken to the hospital repeated times from my brothers abuse/bullying and every time the doctor asked my mother and father what happened they said “boys just being boys”. The bullying was obvious to me but others just accepted my brother's behavior because they either are afraid of him themselves or they don't want to believe their son, brother, father or uncle is a violent human being because then they would need to address the issue with him. Tell and face the truth because by ignoring or making excuses is not going to make it go away.
· What do you think needs to happen for family violence to be reduced or ended in the United States?
Parents, teachers and children need to be educated on abuse and bullying before things will change. Kids are killing themselves in results to their abuse and bullying it is serious and unless we take a step forward and address it will continue to go on.
Questions specifically related to my experiences:
· What was your childhood like?
My childhood was taken away from me the January day in 1972 when I was raped in the Goldblatt's department store. I was depressed lived in fear every day by both my abuser and brother. In 1978 when John Wayne Gacy was captured and put in jail I was finally able to have some relief that the man that raped me could no longer track me down and kill me but the fear of my brother has never gone away because even as an adult I fear he will someday kill me.
· When you experienced physical abuse by your brother, what did your parents do to intervene?
They would punish my brother at time such as ground him or take away privileges but they did not understand that this made things worse for me because at night when we went to bed my brother would put my pillow over my head and punch me until I was crying. He would tell me if mom and dad punish me again because of you I'll make life worse for you.
· Do you have thoughts on why your brother is physically violent?
I believe he has some sort of mental issues. I am not the only person he has been violent with the list of people he has inflicted his abuse behavior on is too long to list her. His marriage ended to his violent behavior with his ex-wife. I have seen him verbally abuse his children and my parents.
· Did you ever confront your brother about the bullying when you were a child?
It started at such a young age that I never had the opportunity. My eldest brother defended me a lot growing up but when he turned 18 he joined the Marines and left me behind with my abusive brother at that time I was 12.
· When you were 9 years old, what happened in the department store? What happened when you got home?
One winter day in January of 1972 I was playing outside by my cousins house who lived a block from Goldblatt's Department Store. When we were kids we would always go to the store because they had a huge candy department. They sold candy by the pound and we would gather our changes together and buy candy and hang out at the store to escape the cold. This particular day we decided to play hiding go seek and it was my turn to be the seeker. After I counted and went off into the store to look for my cousin, friend and brother I had to use the bathroom.
I made my way up the stair case to the second floor where the men's bathroom was located. When I entered the bathroom it was empty except for one person in the stall at the end. After I entered my stall and began to relieve myself I heard the person in the other stall get up. I finished using the toilet and walked to the sink to wash my hands when I noticed a man standing at the door looking at me. I assumed it was the same man that was in the stall. As I walked towards the door he grabbed the door and locked it. He then grabbed me around and put his hand over my mouth. I was terrified and started to cry and try to push away. He then put a knife to my neck and said if you say one word I'll kill you. He then said I want you to follow me out to the back parking lot and get in my car. Don't make and reaction or I'll kill you. At which point I was trembling and crying so hard he knew he could not get me out of the store. He threw me down to the floor and ripped my pants off and rapped me. When he was finished he placed the knife again to my neck and said if you say a word to anyone I'll track you and your family down and kill you.
I was frightened for my life and forgot that my cousin, friend and brother were still in the store. All I wanted to do was get out of there and be safe at home. When I got out of the store I ran all the way home three blocks. Once I got home I ran to my bedroom and climbed into my closet and hid. About an half hour later I heard my brother come home and he was yelling my name. I stood still but by the time he got to our room he heard me crying. He pulled me out of the closet and said you big sissy I'll give you something to cry about. He said how you dare leave without me when I am responsible for you and he began punching me until I was bleeding.
· What have been the big benchmarks in your own recovery?
The big benchmark of my recovery was when my psychiatrist asked me to start writing a journal of my life. When I began writing I saw it all in front of me and it all became so clear.
· Do you think the violence in your past has had an effect on relationship choices in your adult life?
My violence from my past has caused me bad effects on my relationship choices throughout my adult life. I have continuously got into relationships where I felt I could help that person and they turned out to be abusive and hurtful to me. Since I have now healed it is different because I now only want to associate with people that are positive, gentle, kind and treat me with respect.
· As someone who recently has taken on advocacy, what does this work mean to you, in your recovery?
Advocacy against abuse and bullying has become my life passion. I have decided to write a book about my story of survival and planning to become a public speaker to help others that have not yet recovered. Statistics show that many boys and men never come forward about their abuse or bullying out of fear and not being believed. I want to help these individuals and show them that if I can make it from what I have been through so can they.