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

Mitch Mathai

Mitch is clawing his way back. He fell into a deep hole – sexually abused as a child and then addicted to heroin as a young adult – but he is pulling himself out of that hole with courage and determination. And the good news: Mitch is only 22. Plenty of time for a fresh start, and this time with some hard-earned wisdom.

For years, Mitch pushed the memories of the abuse as far away from consciousness as he could. But still they tormented him. He secretly felt enormous and irrational guilt, as though somehow he was responsible for the abuse that was inflicted on him. The breakup of a high school relationship plunged him into despair, and from there into addiction.

After three years in that abyss, Mitch found within himself the courage to confront first his addiction, and then the childhood trauma that had given birth to it. One major turning point: a therapist who was simultaneously persistent and patient. A therapist who, when Mitch could not utter the words he needed to say, gave him a pad and a pen so that Mitch could begin his disclosure with single words.

It was the opening he needed, and he has not looked back. As the months of sobriety roll on, Mitch is beginning to look forward to a life without addiction, and without the crippling secrets that tormented his youth.