When I was in kindergarten, my older brother used to pick me up at school and then walk me home every afternoon. He was supposed to take care of me and my other brother while our parents were out working. When you are that young, you only expect care and support from your family. That’s what we all thought he was doing until he sexually abused me. I was 5 years old then. For such a small boy, it is difficult to understand this type of situation, especially if it involves a person that you respect and admire. I was very shy and quiet, so reaching out to someone was extremely difficult for me. Therefore, I kept the whole situation to myself. The abuse continued until my next-door neighbor told his parents my brother was also abusing him. For years, I tried to live with this trauma and avoid thinking about it as if it were something you could just forget and move on. Luckily, the human mind is very powerful and it blocked most of the details from those days.

However, as the years passed, the situation became more and more difficult to deal with. Then I became extremely introverted, insecure, and scared. I remembered overhearing people saying that I might be autistic or that I had learning disabilities. I constantly received notices from schoolteachers saying I was not engaging in class. This only supported the negative ideas that were growing in my head and damaged my self-esteem. During my adolescence I suffered from insomnia, deep periods of depression, shame, guilt, fear of people, and sometimes even the desire to die. Later, I met God, and my faith gave me a new strength to carry on. I was able to overcome most of my internal issues, and I got a whole new outlook on life. Seven years ago, I got married to a wonderful woman, and we started our family. I am now a proud father of two. These last few years, everything has been calm, and I thought I had my life figured out. Last year, I met a person that attempted to commit suicide.

Suddenly, all of the fear, confusion, and sadness came back. However, this time I thought to myself that if I didn’t do something I would end up like this person. So I prayed God for help. A few days later, I read an article in a Fitness magazine, about a real life hero. The article was about Paul Leduc, a young male survivor of sexual abuse in Canada who was not only able to overcome his abuse, but he was also doing something to help other survivors. At this point I had already hit rock bottom. I then understood that I had two choices in front of me: I could either try to ignore the situation and keep struggling with the same issues over and over; or I could seek for help and finally overcome my abuse and be free. Reading that article inspired me to seek help. So I reached out to a psychologist friend and told her I was going through a crisis. Not only did she listen to me that day, but she also offered to take my case and provide me with psychological therapy pro bono.

That was the first time that I felt that I could overcome my abuse and take control of my life. It was God’s response to my prayer. For about ten months, I attended therapy every Saturday morning. At first, the whole experience was overwhelming and painful, but soon I began to gain self-confidence and hope. After 25 years of fearing and hiding, I achieved a milestone; I confronted my abuser and closed that chapter of my life. I as well started to disclose my abuse to my family and friends. These were two scenarios I pictured as impossible up until then. For years I felt a great desire to help others and promised myself that if I overcame my abuse, I would do something to give back what I had received. This is why I decided to follow Paul’s steps and create a group of male survivor of sexual abuse in Costa Rica to help others overcome their obstacles and face their traumas. The project is just taking its first steps, but hopefully it will soon provide other survivors with the same hope that I received myself.