His openness to others, his capacity to listen to his inner voice, and the loving support of family have nurtured Lamarkus on the path to recovery.
"As far as making friendship—it takes a lot for me to bring you in, put you on that level as a friend."
"Especially for young black men, like, you don't have to be quiet about this."
"I could put that abuse in the rearview mirror for now."
"This went on all through my 20s—girlfriend after girlfriend, bad relationship after bad relationship."
"She saved my life. I probably would be going down this horrible path still."
"I just felt like it was whoever. Sex was for whoever...That was what the trauma told me."
"I had experience so much already, and so a kiss was nothing...It kind of skewed my reality when it came to being intimate."
"I was going to strip clubs because I felt comfortable being around...broken people. They made me feel better about my brokenness."
"It wasn't until going to therapy I realized that there was multiple situations...that attributed to my abuse and my trauma."
"She must've been broken, too. She must've been looking for something that she never got."
"He reaches over, and he grabs my penis and proceeds to fondle me and masturbate for me."
"I'm almost paralyzed to know what to do at that age—you know, no idea."
"It makes them look weak, and black men aren't supposed to be weak."
"Black families don't talk about 'good touch bad touch' because they don't think it's going on."
"He was propositioning a lot of us kids. A lot of us said we didn't take him up on it."
"I feel like with the abuse and the stuff that happened to me...I'm pretty tough...I just get tired of losing."
Lamarkus sat in his car wondering why an inner voice kept telling him to go back into the dry cleaning store where he had just picked up his shirts, and ask the young clerk if “she is going through something.” Finally, he relented, and the clerk stared at him and said “yes.” And the inner voice told Lamarkus to tell her, “It’s going to be okay.” So he did. That openness, that willingness to listen to the inner voice, has served Lamarkus well. It has guided his recovery and healing from a childhood rife with sexual abuse.
Lamarkus grew up a “ward of court.” His mother was 14 when she gave birth to him. Lamarkus eventually learned that his mother had wanted to get an abortion, her second, but her foster mother had forced her to keep the pregnancy. And so Lamarkus was born, and then raised by the same foster mother who had raised his mother, and saved his life. Children came and went from the foster home, and many of them sexually abused Lamarkus. As did a police officer who befriended and groomed him.
The repeated abuse distorted his sexuality, undermined his sense of his own worth, and marred his capacity for intimacy. But Lamarkus struggled against those destructive forces. He excelled playing basketball, was a high school star, and received a scholarship to attend college. Basketball gave back to him some of what the abuse had stolen.
Intimacy remained a challenge, however. He spent years in and out of relationships that could never repair what had been damaged. Then he met Shawna. Their relationship clicked into place, and once again Lamarkus was open: to a different kind of relationship; to psychotherapy; and to a new path toward healing.