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

Stewart Best

At the age of 26 Stewart was riding his motorcycle down a road in Christchurch, New Zealand. A large truck was coming his way and Stewart suddenly felt the urge to veer into it’s path. Thankfully, he didn’t. Instead, he pulled onto a side street to gather himself, realizing in that instant that he had to change his hard-living ways. What happened next was extraordinary. He looked up and saw that he had stopped in front of a psychologist’s office. So he knocked on the door and told the psychologist that he needed help right away or he would die. She looked at him and told her secretary to cancel her next appointment. So began Stewart’s path toward healing.

There was much healing to do. Stewart was raised in violence and chaos. He was savagely beaten by his mother and was subjected to the violence of others who made their way into his home. By the age of eight he was being sexually abused by a predator who was later imprisoned for the abuse of dozens of children. The abuse and neglect resulted in Stewart’s removal from his home. And then another extraordinary thing happened.

Stewart, eight years old, was featured in a radio ad – was there a family that would like to foster him? A girl heard the ad and went home and convinced her parents that they must take him in. For nearly four years he lived on a farm with that foster family. It’s quite possible that those four years saved Stewart’s life. His foster parents showed him through words and deeds that he was valued and loved. They planted in Stewart the possibility of healing.

Today, Stewart passes it on. He works with men in need, men in trouble. He finds their humanity and connects with them. Even men who have done terrible things. Such as the sexual predator who abused Stewart himself as a boy. Stewart tracked him down, in prison, forgave him, and listened as he recounted his own tragic life.