The Bristlecone Project

Portraits and Biographies of Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

James Franklin

Growing up in a small Missouri town, James’ isolation made him a prime target for sexual predators. He was sexually abused repeatedly at age seven by the projectionist in a movie theater. The abuse deepened feelings of shame, guilt and worthlessness that had already been instilled in him by the emotional abuse and sexualized behavior directed at him by his mother. James was targeted again by a sexual predator when he was 13. His early fears were captured in a childhood photograph in which he is standing alone between two tombstones in a family cemetery, two padlocks fastened to his belt loops, symbolizing his desperation to be protected from a world of predators.

In adulthood, a period of hyper-sexual behavior and confusion about his sexuality left him grateful that he escaped any dire consequences. For years he suffered severe depressions. The Sandusky scandal sparked a change, however. James began to marshal the resources he needed to confront and transform his traumatic childhood. A social worker and counselor, James scoured the internet for books and resources on sexual abuse and male survivors. He sought therapy, a commitment he maintains to this day. In the darkness of his childhood, James found comfort and a bond with his dog, Rudolph. Today, James rescues abused and neglected animals who need a loving presence in their lives.