Survivor Stories
Brett Bussen

“I just wanted someone to see that I was going through this, and to kind of come along beside me.”

Growing up as an only child on a Midwestern farm, Brett’s loneliness made him a target of a local child molester – one of his elementary school teachers. For a decade, Brett suffered the diabolical combination of special attention woven together with sexual abuse; a combination that left him confused, alienated and further isolated from his peers and his family. Somehow, Brett retained an inner thread, a thin but seemingly unbreakable link to a selfhood out of reach to the man who abused him, a link to an inner reference point of what is right. At 16, Brett disclosed the abuse.

In the wake of that disclosure, and the upheaval that followed, Brett found immense solace in his connection to God. He retained an inner certitude that he was not alone, and that his suffering held meaning, and ultimately would serve a purpose.

The criminal case that ensued only worsened Brett’s trauma. But his disclosure also began the long and difficult walk toward healing. Therapy, and many hours of reflection have been integral to that process. And so has Brett’s art. Now majoring in film studies and soon to graduate from college, Brett has found a medium in which to express the complex and nuanced inner reality of both victimization and hope. For his senior thesis (a film), Brett is returning to that Midwestern farm community, this time as an artist embarked on that long walk toward recovery.


“My faith somehow carried me through it.”