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Sexual abuse: The long road to recovery

Local resident bears the scars of sexual abuse

Posted: November 29, 2008 9:16 p.m.
Updated: November 30, 2008 4:59 a.m.
 

Deputy District Attorney Alisanne Scolnik asserted that the victims of convicted molester Kevin Lamont Thomas will suffer for the rest of their lives. Her strong words at Thomas' sentencing hearing Nov. 21 reopened deep scars for one Santa Clarita resident.

A man sodomized Bryan Andrews in a public bathroom when he was five years old.

"I know it felt wrong when it was happening," said Andrews, 28, of Canyon Country. "I felt gross."

It took him 16 years to tell anyone what happened, while he struggled with the pain and lashed out at anyone who tried to get close.

"I shut myself off from any relationship," he said. "I was too afraid to make friends. I was a loner."

Andrews suffered from nightmares where he relived his abuse and battled feelings of despair and emptiness.

"As bad as I felt, I understand people wanting to kill themselves," he said.

"If it goes untreated and not talked about, (victims of sexual abuse) blame themselves," said Cary Quashen, president of Action Family Counseling.

Victims can spiral down into destructive behavior that continues for life, he said.

"They have trust issues that haunt them in other relationships," Quashen said.

Trust and relationship issues for one of Kevin Lamont Thomas' victims helped break the case, Scolnik said.

Thomas, a former Canyon High School volunteer football coach, traded private basketball lessons for sexual liaisons with high school girls. Thomas was sentenced to six years in state prison after he pleaded no contest Nov. 6 to felony counts of sexual penetration of a minor with a foreign object and sexual intercourse with a minor and a misdemeanor count of child molestation, said Shiara M. Davila, Los Angeles County District Attorney's office spokeswoman.

"Intimacy is very difficult for those who are victims of sexual abuse," Quashen said.

Andrews began turning his life around at a men's retreat in 2001 when he told the story of his abuse for the first time.

"It's scary dealing with the brutal truth," he said. Andrews held nothing back. "You need to participate 100 percent. If I couldn't do it there, I wouldn't do it anywhere."

Everything in Andrews' life changed after his confession.

"I became a man," he said.

Andrews started a successful business. He also opened up his heart and fell in love.

Vanessa Andrews, 32, is Bryan Andrews' wife. The pair met seven years ago right after Bryan Andrews' confession.

Trust was also an issue for Vanessa Andrews, who was also a victim of abuse. The couple shared their stories and their bond grew stronger, she said.

A key component of recovery from sexual abuse is getting the victim to talk about the abuse and realize it's not their fault, Quashen said.

"Victims often write a letter to themselves or to their abuser," he said.

Bryan Andrews decided to write a book about his experience. It's part catharsis and part advice for other victims, he said.

"I hope that people will see what I went through, how I recovered and how well I'm doing now and be inspired," he said.

Andrews hopes to finish his book titled "Molested Millionaire" and attract a publisher in the next year.

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