The stories of healing from these courageous men will inspire a range of emotions.
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The Bristlecone Project

Portraits and Biographies of Male Survivors

Bill Martin

Bill is engaged in a lifelong struggle to heal the profound wounds of his childhood. He spent the first four years of life in foster homes, already saddled with deep feelings of being rejected. He was then adopted, only to be sexually abused by multiple perpetrators.

These compounded traumas were overwhelming, and for many years Bill’s only recourse was to find a way to survive. At times he used drugs and alcohol. At times he dissociated. He was terrified of confined spaces, like closets and elevators.

But the hardest struggles have been with the inner voice that tells him he’s broken and damaged. The doubting voice: “Did you ask for any of this?” “No, I didn’t ask for any of this! How can you?! Seven years old!”

Little by little, there is healing. Bill has found solace at the ocean, feeling the salt air on his skin, listening to the incoming waves. With each incoming wave he inhales, then slowly exhales, synchronizing his breathing with the waves. An oceanic meditation.

And then there is the piano. Bill began playing the piano at age eight, but this blessing too he has had to wrestle back from the clutches of trauma. His piano teacher was one of the men who abused him. Still, at the piano, releasing exquisite notes and tones, Bill’s face changes, and he is temporarily released from the struggles. “This feels like therapy. It really is healing, because I control the music and what comes out.”