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Pete Chapman

A learned hyper-independence, a talent for invention, and a connection with God have enabled Pete to overcome multiple experiences of sexual abuse.

Pete learned early in life that he would have to make his own way in the world. His parents were drinkers. His step-father would beat him, badly, if Pete did not clean the bottles well enough, the bottles that his father filled with his home-brew. So Pete escaped whenever he could. He did things that were not typical for kids his age. At the age of ten he was tramping in the bush, cooking his own meals over a fire. He learned to be independent, but his independence also left him vulnerable to sexual predators.

A retired British Army colonel groomed him and then sexually abused him, abuse that Pete suffered for a long time. Later, Pete was sexually assaulted by an electrician with whom he was working. Like almost all children who suffer such abuse, Pete could not disclose what had happened to him. Instead, he sealed away the memories.

His undiagnosed dyslexia made most schoolwork enormously difficult, but Pete learned that his brain may work differently, but it worked well. He could see things in the world that others could not, like how things worked, and how they could work better. For example, he noticed how people had difficulty opening the foil caps that sealed glass milk bottles. So he invented a plastic device that solved the problem and sold tens of thousands of them to the milk bottling company.

But childhood trauma rarely goes away on its own. Pete was sixty years old when the memories came knocking, and they rocked him. So Pete took them on. He saw a counselor. He joined a peer support group for male survivors. He learned how to take care of himself. He prayed, forging a connection with God that has been a foundation of his healing. And he communes with nature, in the bush, and on long evening walks on the beach, walks that soothe his soul.