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The Bristlecone Project

Portraits and Biographies of Male Survivors

Patrick Ayres

Groomed and then sexually abused by a neighborhood child molester when he was eight years old, Patrick, like so many children, felt that he had done something terribly wrong, so he could not tell his parents. And like so many children, the secret that now lay between him and his parents left him feeling emotionally abandoned by them. The terrible secret lay buried for the next 20 years. When he disclosed the abuse for the first time, to his wife, the disclosure led not to emotional support, but rather to the sudden breakup of his marriage and to a deepening of his wounds.

Since then, Patrick has been rebuilding his capacity to trust, and his openness to intimacy with others. Through therapy, and much time spent in reflection, he has questioned and moderated his need to always be in control, and nurtured his spontaneity. Patrick’s photograph of the solitary tree in a wintry landscape, which he titled, “Solitary Confinement,” depicts the isolation he has experienced. But it is a scene that he now can imagine changing. He now can imagine a second tree, nearby and in the foreground, gracing the landscape, and his own life.