The Bristlecone Project is an awareness campaign of 1in6.org. Photographs and text by David Lisak, Ph.D.
For years, Hart believed that the abuse he suffered “had stolen all of me,” but a profound experience taught him otherwise. It was a Wednesday night meeting of a men’s Survivors of Incest Anonymous group. It was during the Easter season. The spiritual, “He Would Not Come Down From the Cross Just to Save Himself,” was resonating in his mind, and for days it had haunted Hart. He took a break from the meeting and went into the men’s room. In the mirror, Hart saw a vision: a cross, and a man on the cross, and the spiritual playing over and over in his mind. And then the man on the cross morphed into a four-year-old child, the same age as Hart was when the sexual abuse that scarred his childhood began. And in the instant of that vision, Hart understood that the abuse had not stolen all of him; that a spirit had always been there, a part of him, protecting and guiding him. Decades later, as he recounts this, Hart is filled with emotion, the meaning of that vision still deeply resonant.
Guided by that spirit, and relying on his inner strength and intelligence, Hart has successfully navigated these challenging waters. He is a man who suffered childhood sexual abuse and adult rape in a world struggling to accept that men too are sexually assaulted. Hart is a black man living in a country that still struggles to acknowledge the profound depth of its long history of racism.
Today, he is an attorney, a professional actor, a poet, and the CEO and co-founder of Hart Learning Group, an executive coaching and corporate consulting firm.
He first spoke publicly about his sexual abuse on BET’s Our Voices, and stood with 200 other male survivors in the final season of the Oprah Winfrey Show. Hart continues to speak, and shares his “poetry with a purpose,” with groups and conferences around the country.
Originally posted on 1in6.org