*As a means to protect privacy, Damion’s story is a composite.
Radius provides therapy and support to help teens like Damion heal from the trauma of abuse. Damion is building a bright and healthy future.
It was the summer before middle school and I had a lot of anxiety about starting grade seven. Making friends wasn’t easy for me and I had been bullied a lot in elementary school. One of the few places I felt safe and strong was the soccer field. I was our top scorer and Coach Jeff thought I showed promise and may be able to make my school team or even play in High School. He said I just needed some extra practice and offered to help me one extra night a week. We started hanging out after practise and he bought me junk food that my parents never allowed, introduced me to cool music and then one day, he showed me porn on his phone. It felt good to be treated like an adult, like his buddy. But I was just a kid. I still find it hard to accept because I’ve realized just how much of a good job at manipulating and brainwashing me into thinking I was his equal.
The porn watching continued and then it went on from there. He’d do truth/dare with me and it always seemed to end up with him touching me and doing stuff. I’d kind of try and forget about those moments because he would buy me new running shoes or earphones or video games. That really messed my head up later in life. I blamed myself for taking the items from him. It was like he’d bought me.
It continued through middle school. We saw each other more often, he kept buying me things, calling them “buddy gifts” and he started talking about our time together as secret because of a “bros code”. My mom would ask questions about where I was going after school and wanted to meet my friends. When I told Jeff that my mom was butting into my life, asking questions and treating me like a kid, things started to change. He threatened me, said he would hurt my mom if he lost me as his buddy and the sexual abuse got a lot worse. When I was 14, something really bad happened and I told my mom what my coach had done. It was so hard to talk about and I didn’t have the words to explain.
I didn’t want to admit to myself what had happened never mind admitting to anyone else. I was ashamed, felt guilty and just hated myself for it all. But I found someone to talk to at Radius and it really helped. I missed out on a lot of my childhood because of what was happening to me so helping other kids in similar situations is really important to me now. I finished High School and I want to work with kids as a teacher or social worker. I am not ashamed any more because I know I have nothing to be ashamed about – I did nothing wrong.
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