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

Mike Pistorino

Today, Mike Pistorino is married and raising three beautiful daughters with his wife, Cynthia. Fifteen years ago, Mike was an angry man, addicted to cocaine, sleeping in the streets and doing stints in jails and prisons. As a young child growing up in the Bronx, neglected by his parents, Mike was easy prey for a local predator. He was sexually abused for years, and for years he believed – deep in his bone marrow – that the rapes he suffered were proof that he was bad; that there was nothing good or redeemable in him.

But he found within himself a spark, a long buried but still living source of hope and will. At age 28, with the help of the Daytop Village therapeutic community, and after several false starts, Mike broke the grip of his addiction. Freed from its clutches, he built a life. He met Cynthia on a New York City subway and a year later they were married. As his oldest daughter reached the age at which he was abused, Mike found himself wrestling with his memories. He sought help from the Cleveland rape crisis center, overcame his fears, and began the real work of confronting the abuse he had suffered, and its legacies. The self blame, the anger, the bone-deep belief that he did not deserve to be happy.

Today, Mike speaks publicly about his experiences throughout the country. He helps other survivors to find their voice, he raises money for the rape crisis center, and at the end of each day he comes home to the loving family that he is devoted to.