My mom was young when she had me. She didn’t know how to raise children, and she brought a man into our life who was extremely abusive. At first it was just physical and verbal abuse. But then it turned into sexual abuse. He had his way with me from the time I was six years old. When I was 13, I ended up getting involved with the wrong crew and went to prison for murder. I didn’t actually do anything, but I didn’t stop it. I received a sentence of 9 to 40 years and ended up spending 20 years of my life in prison.
I first met Hannah from ICJ while I was incarcerated. There were a lot of people who came to the prison and sold a lot of dreams. But Hannah really seemed to give a damn – something I am not used to in my life. I told her about my lupus the first day we met and she continually checked in on me to make sure I had enough medication. When I got out of prison, I started going to the John Bell Health Center. I can’t say enough good things about the place. Dr. Kostman actually listens. He believes in working together to figure out a course of treatment. He makes me feel like I am so much more than just a rubber stamp and an insurance number. I will continue to travel the distance to John Bell because it is worth it. This is the longest I have gone without a flare-up and I feel great.
FIGHT has helped to show me that I am a lot more than my past. Everyone at FIGHT is focused on opening up a dialogue and talking about solutions. There are so many people here who genuinely care. That is reassuring to me right now.
For a long time, I couldn’t stand who I was. I felt like a cancer. I wasn’t able to talk about anything that happened to me and I was self-destructing. Then I decided it was time to start living. I did a lot of work to become a healthy person. I began to like myself and then I started to love myself. I have a son now and he is my best friend. He is the reason I want to be alive. I want to see him through periods of life that my father was never around to see. My son asked me about the abuse I experienced and I didn’t lie to him. It was the hardest conversation that we have ever had. I told him what happened; I wanted him to know that his dad is resilient and still standing.
In the future, I want to work with children in some capacity. I don’t want what happened to me to happen to them. I’m not naïve enough to think I can save every kid. But if I can reach out to just one, and save him or her from my life, then I’m good. That’s where my passion is.
- Kevin Christmas