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Richard O’Neil

Targeted because he was “different,” both within and outside his family, Richard battled back to become a successful professional and married man who is no longer defined by his tormenters.

Richard was repeatedly targeted as a child because he was “different.” He was abused within his own family: by his father, physically and emotionally; by his brother, sexually. Then, as a young teen, he was groomed and sexually abused by his church choir director. His disclosure of the abuse brought no relief or support from his family. Yet somehow Richard found within himself the strength to battle back: against depression that brought him to the brink of suicide; against the voices of self-loathing that constantly undermined him; against the men in the south Mississippi shipyard where he worked, men who thought they could torment him because he is gay.

In the course of his battle Richard began to find allies. He tried therapy, repeatedly, was often disappointed, but finally found a therapist who could truly help him. He tried relationships, was often hurt, but finally found love and marriage with his partner, David. And through it all he discovered that he was intelligent, and very capable, and could master the complexities of shipbuilding. Today, Richard works as a shipbuilding estimator, work that he enjoys immensely. And he rejoices in the knowledge that those who tormented and degraded him lost their battle, while he won his.