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The Bristlecone Project

Portraits and Biographies of Male Survivors

Eric Jennings

Eric was in his 40’s when a phone message delivered the news that shook Eric’s foundation and ended a lifetime of silence. His older brother Frankie had killed himself.

Flashbulb memories of a childhood incident with his brother in an abandoned chicken coop had swirled in Eric for many years. But now those memories collided with the reality of Frankie’s death and they exploded. “I cried out for my wife to come to me. And she did. And that was the beginning of my recovery.”

Frankie did not abuse Eric, but nor did he protect him, either from the older boys in the chicken coop, or from family members who also sexually abused him.

From that explosive confluence of abuse and suicide, Eric launched his recovery. “Breaking that silence was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” He had always been open to therapy, and now he found a support group and a therapist who specialized in working with male survivors.

Eric is a yoga instructor, and owner of a yoga studio. When a sexual assault scandal erupted in the national yoga community, Eric made the moral choice to align himself with the women who had come forward with accusations, and he publicly disclosed his own history of childhood sexual abuse. Eric’s honesty and openness has infused his yoga practice and teaching, and the response from his clients has been overwhelmingly positive. Many of them quietly thanked him. “I know that there are a lot of survivors in that room with me.”

Eric also knows that “these words need to be spoken, and not just for me. We all need to acknowledge what we are all surrounded by.”