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

Darrel Carson

Surrounded by pine trees, nestled in a corner of Oregon paradise, Darrel reflects: “I’m a very content, middle-sixties man, but life hasn’t always been that way.”

He was raised by a mother whose parenting was guided by the premise that her children would end up in heaven, “even if I have to beat them there every step of the way.” Starved of love and attention, Darrel craved it, and that craving left him vulnerable to those who would prey on a child. He was sexually abused by an older neighborhood bully, and then by a taxi driver.

Like so many abuse survivors, Darrel was tormented by shame and guilt and his self-esteem plummeted. In high school, Darrel risked disclosing to a school staff member, but he was again betrayed – soon the entire school knew about what he had suffered. He swore to himself that he would never again disclose to anyone, and he kept that promise for 20 years.

The next time he disclosed was to his wife, Vera. Early in their marriage, she questioned Darrel about his moodiness. She worried that she was somehow responsible, and Darrel could not abide her believing that. He believed that she would leave him if she knew his past, but he told her anyway. And she did not leave. “We’ve been married nearly 40 years and she’s put up with a lot with me. She’s cried with me, she’s yelled at me, she’s been extremely supportive of me.”

So today Vera and Darrel are camped in a corner of paradise, building their dream home, surrounded by children and grandchildren, and Darrel is a content “middle-sixties” man.