Survivor Stories
Scott Sunday

At 33, the identity of the person who scarred him as a child was revealed in a nightmare. And then Scott’s healing began.

The thread that runs through Scott’s long struggle with the trauma of his childhood is a recurring nightmare. In that terrifying dream, a bright, relentless light – like a malevolent sun – pursues Scott, ordering him to lie down, chasing him into his house, burning through all of the barriers that Scott frantically builds to protect himself. The nightmare plagued his childhood and then left him alone through the middle decades of Scott’s life when amnesia protected him from the sexual abuse that had deeply scarred him.

The nightmare returned when Scott was 33 years old. But this time, when the malevolent sun approached him, it suddenly began to melt, and it morphed into the face of his adoptive mother, the person who had sexually abused him. Thus did the reality of his childhood burst into his consciousness for the first time.

Even while Scott was protected from these memories, the abuse took its toll on him. He had begun drinking at the age of 16, drinking to pass out, to numb himself, to maintain the inner wall that held back the terrible truth.

At 19, he joined the Marines, “to make me a man.” He became a helicopter crew chief, and loved the life. But the still-secret abuse made intimacy a minefield. His first marriage dissolved after ten years.

“When I remarried, I had so much armor around me. It took so much energy to open up the armor, to let my wife in.”

The return of the nightmare was the launch point of Scott’s decades-long struggle to come to terms with his trauma-filled childhood. As it is for all survivors, the path was meandering and filled with high’s and low’s. For a period of months, Scott turned to meth and cocaine and spent hours driving in a futile effort to stay awake and avoid the nightmares.

But Scott also found help. In therapy, and in the Weekends of Recovery (, and through those days of healing, found a peace that had forever eluded him. With that, peace has come a new commitment. Scott began volunteering at his local sexual assault center and now works full time as an education and outreach coordinator. He also facilitates a men’s support group for sexual assault survivors.

“I’m happy for the first time in 57 years. Life is good. I never thought I’d be able to say that,” Scott says, sitting across from Laura, his wife of 27 years, their hands intertwined. Says Laura: “I went to hell and back with Scott, but now I’m very proud of the man he has become.”