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Joshua Santana

Buried for decades, the abuse he suffered hit Joshua like a Tsunami in 2016. With therapy, determination, and the love and support of his wife, Julia, he is lifting the weight off his shoulders.

It was January, 2016, a normal day. Joshua was on his way to church, listening to a song. And a flood of memories of being sexually abused suddenly washed over the dam he had built and maintained for decades. A dam built to hold back not just the memories, but any sign of the pain that he had been taught would be a sign of weakness. For weeks, Joshua was angry and agitated, arguing with his wife, Julia. Finally, he broke down, and through tears told her about the abuse that had marred his childhood and left him with deep scars.

Joshua found a therapist, completed eight sessions, and like so many survivors, he thought he was through the worst of it. He threw himself into his work, and especially into his work with his church. In March, 2018 he went to Malawi on a mission. His job: to film two young girls who, having reached puberty, were sent off into a perilous initiation into the world of adulthood. Joshua found himself trying to film one of the girls in a cramped mud hut and he was suddenly overwhelmed with images of rape and abuse – the girl’s, and his own. Back into therapy he went, this time a more intensive and long term therapy that continues.

With the stalwart love and support of Julia, Joshua has embarked on a wholesale re-assessment of his childhood and youth. For years during his adolescence and young adulthood, he lived a life of hard-drinking, partying, womanizing and fighting. Several times the combination landed him in jail. Underlying this behavior was the buried secret of his abuse, and a bone-deep belief in his own unworthiness.

Joshua knows that the struggle to reclaim himself will be a long one. In some ways, lifelong. But with the love and support of Julia, and with a budding career as an actor, he is confident that he can stay the course. Says Julia: “Every time he tells someone about what happened to him I can see the weight lighten. It’s a like a ripple of freedom.”

Joshua has embarked on a wholesale re-assessment of his childhood and youth.