The Courage of Survivors
Prisoner rape shatters lives -- but it doesn’t have to destroy them. Every day, survivors find ways to rebuild their lives. Here is Pedro’s story.
Thanks to this support, Pedro is on the road to healing. Today, he’s committed to making sure that no other survivor ever feels hopeless, as he once did, after an assault.
Pedro, 37, has spent nearly all of his adult life behind bars. An inmate at a Wisconsin facility, Pedro -- not his real name -- does his best to use his time well and find fulfillment in prison. He tutors other inmates in English and math, goes to chapel regularly, and even enrolled in college.
Then one day, Pedro’s life took a horrific turn. After being transferred to a new housing unit, Pedro was raped by his cellmate.
Pedro was devastated. He lost interest in the things that gave his life meaning, like his college coursework. Things got so bad that he felt suicidal, no longer wanting, as he put it, “to live another second with the disgust, shame, and the other aftereffects of what was done to me.”
But here’s where Pedro’s story turns hopeful. Following the sexual assault, Pedro reached out to JDI. Our staff mailed him Hope for Healing, our booklet for survivors of prisoner rape. Pedro learned about common reactions to sexual abuse, how to cope with his painful feelings, and where to get more help. Perhaps most importantly, Pedro learned that he was not alone.
In a recent letter, Pedro directly addressed his fellow survivors. He told them, “We can heal. Remember that what you are doing right now is courageous and that others will be inspired by you, as I have been by others.”
I hope you know that you inspire Pedro -- and countless other survivors like him -- simply by having compassion for all people who have endured sexual abuse. You can read more about Pedro, and other survivors who are working to rebuild their lives, on JDI’s website.