The Bristlecone Project

Portraits and Biographies of Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

David Lisak

Sexually abused at the age of five by a young man who boarded with his family, David kept the abuse hidden for 30 years. The abuse shaped much of his early life. It intruded into his relationships, and fed his isolation and self-doubts. It also fed his desire to be entirely self-sufficient and independent. Only when he began to confront what had been so long hidden did David begin to free himself from its effects.

He turned from farming to psychology, resumed his university studies, and became a clinical psychologist. He transformed his early traumatic experiences into a career of research and clinical work, focused on trauma. David has studied the long term effects of abuse on men’s lives as well as the behavior and characteristics of rapists.

He works tirelessly to increase public awareness of sexual violence and its impact, and has worked with organizations which focus on helping men who have suffered sexual abuse, first with Male Survivor, and now with 1in6. In 2012 David launched The Bristlecone Project, which aims to introduce men who have been sexually abused to each other, and to their larger communities.