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The Bristlecone Project

Portraits and Biographies of Male Survivors

Brian Muldoon

A four year old boy is enticed to come over to play a game of darts by the uncle of the boy’s friend. The boy is cautious. He asks his parents if it’s okay. His father is skeptical. His mother says it’s fine. So the four year old boy goes to the man’s house, and he is brutally raped. He feels the pain, he instinctively knows it’s wrong, but he doesn’t have a word or a concept to understand what the man did to him.

He never tells his parents what happened. But his life is never the same. For years he buries the memory of the rape and gets on with childhood. Then, at thirteen, he hits puberty, and the memory, and the meaning of the memory, finally break through. Still, he cannot tell his parents.

He develops symptoms. He suffers severe anxiety. His mind fixes on things and he can’t jar it loose. He becomes preoccupied by the things that make him anxious. Finally, Brian tells a psychiatrist, and the psychiatrist calls in his parents, and for the first time they learn what happened to their child so many years before.

Brian went through a long grieving process, facing the reality that what happened to him in a single afternoon had altered the course of his life; that it continued to shape him. “It stuffed my initiative.” He now realizes that because he went to his parents, eager to go play the game of darts with the man, and was then raped, he had learned a terrible lesson: if you take the initiative, something catastrophic will happen. It’s safer to hold back.

Brian has worked to undo the damage to his life. He has sought help from counselors. He has found solidarity with other male survivors at Nelson’s Male Room. He has discovered that talking openly about what happened to him is actually the cure.