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

John Duffy

It was a family member who sexually abused John, who cut short his childhood and sent him careening into years of substance abuse. But it was also family members who, many years later, embraced John, who supported him and loved him through the years of healing.

Like so many survivors, John “internalized” the abuse that was perpetrated against him. He believed that he was bad. He believed that the shame was his. He believed that he was undeserving of anything good. Saddled with these beliefs, John’s youth was derailed. He sought refuge in drugs and alcohol. He dropped out of school.

Despite these losses, something irrepressible in John moved him forward. He found a job in Boston’s financial district, and learned in life what he had never been able to learn in school. And he got married, and began raising children.

But there were problems. The abuse that had cut short his childhood had its legacies, and John had avoided them. They reared up in sudden bouts of anger. They formed an invisible wall between John and his wife, between John and his children. They led him back to the bottle.

But John’s wife stuck with him. And that same irrepressible force gave John the inner strength to begin confronting his past. He went to workshops and retreats for male survivors. He read a book for male survivors. He started getting treatment.

Today, John smiles easily. He enjoys the fruits of a multi-decade marriage that has weathered many storms. And he revels in honest and close relationships with his children.