When Antonio was a little boy, he stayed with his uncle in Puerto Rico every year for vacation, and every year, his uncle sexually abused him. “I was so ashamed. I thought it was my fault so I never told anyone.” When he was 11, Antonio stopped vacationing there, but he kept his traumatic secret. It wasn’t until he was 13 that a doctor discovered the truth during a physical exam and referred him to a psychiatrist. Antonio was prescribed antidepressants, but they made him sluggish, so he stopped taking them and began numbing his pain with alcohol and drugs. “They made me forget.”
For 20 years, he struggled with his addiction, while serving in the Gulf War with the navy, working construction and raising a family with his fiancée. Finally, he got clean and, for 13 years, maintained his sobriety. “I buried all the pain.” Then he and his fiancée set a wedding date, and when she suggested they honeymoon in Puerto Rico, it opened Antonio’s old wounds. “The pain rose up and I relapsed.” It was then when he came to the Mission for help, graduating from our Addiction Stabilization Center and entering our Parker House Program. Through Bible studies, chapel services and Christian counseling, Antonio has strengthened his faith and begun to heal.
“Now I’m in an intimate relationship with God, and sharing my pain with others has given me strength and hope,” he says, his eyes filled with tears of gratitude. “I’m not filled with shame anymore.” Antonio graduated from the program, has a job and his own place, and plans to become a drug and alcohol counselor so he can help others find the healing he found at the Mission. You may never meet Antonio, but he’s eternally grateful to YOU for your support – today his heart is filled with new hope for the future. “I’ve forgiven my uncle. He no longer owns my soul. God has made me a new creation.”