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The Bristlecone Project

Portraits and Biographies of Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Julian Colella

At age 7, Julian was abducted, driven to a farm lane, and raped. He dissociated; stared at the cumulous clouds floating across the sky; beautiful clouds that now forever remind him of the rape. Not until he was in high school did Julian disclose to a friend what had happened to him. His friend, it turned out, had been raped by the same man.

Julian struggled through a period of delinquency, alcoholism, car accidents and bad relationships, until one day, at 26, he found himself curled into a fetal position on his kitchen floor like “a wounded animal.” He sought counseling, and for the first time heard the word “rape,” applied to himself.

The birth of his first son motivated Julian to quit drinking, but he still at times struggled with his anger, and still had not fully reckoned with the trauma that had haunted his life. An incident at work triggered an outburst, and Julian was ordered into his supervisor’s office. There, Julian disclosed the rape and the post-traumatic stress he was dealing with. His supervisor revealed that she too had been raped as a child. “That was a healing moment.” Julian found a trauma specialist, and through her other survivors, and worked for years on the legacies that had stalked his life. Today, unchained from the past and remarried, Julian has a new family, a young son and the capacity to experience the joy that they bring him.