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Man, some people have shitty lives.

He escaped his father’s child sex ring only to endure the horrors of homelessness: illness, starvation, and yet more sexual violence. "I didn’t run away as a child, because of the lies I was raised to believe. My father told me all families were the same, all fathers used their children for sex, and it was my duty as a son to obey and please him. He said if I tried to ask for help, those people would just use me as punishment for my defiance of my owner—my own father. I was taken to other homes, other places, and shown that this was true. As a child, I didn’t know those other places were not “normal homes.” If that ploy ever grew thin, he threatened to kill me, other children he owned or managed, or my mother. My mother used me too, but she didn’t use pain and terror against me. She gave me the affection that I craved so intensely. I obeyed her just to please her. It took meeting another boy in junior high school to start showing me my father’s lies for what they were, but by then I was so entrenched and had learned that I was complicit, and so I was far too terrified to run away. When I left, it was due to a combination of factors. I knew, finally, that I wasn’t a weak little boy anymore. My father had a new plan for me: I was to start getting new children for his pedophile sex ring. The day I came home to him beating my mother, he turned on me when I intervened. His intention that I continue his “family business” was so repulsive I could barely breathe. The violence he began that day, I finished in a manic fit of rage. When it was over, I threw him out. I was so confused and devastated, I clung to the idea that I would stay and protect my mother. We would find another way to make a living (a grand childish idea I had no clue how to follow through on). In my mixed up abused state and twisted love for her, I envisioned a future together that, to my shock, she didn’t share. Her outrage and rejection of me because I had made him leave made me instantly want to die. I knew he might return and kill me for my defiance. What saved me from using the gun I’d stolen from him to simply end my life right there in our foyer, was my own fledgling anger. I had saved her; how dare she reject me? I turned away from her, and there was the world outside our open door, and my old curiosity returned. I wanted to know, and now I could leave and find out. I gathered what could be carried in my backpack and finally left that sick life. I made my way to the elementary school I had attended, where workers were painting over the summer, and I lived in a girl’s restroom for a week. It was the beginning of my life as a disposable male: scrounging for food, seen as “lazy no-good filth” to people who were swift to judge, and invisible to those who did not wish to see. In my school days, when food was being withheld from me at home, I learned that the dumpster behind the cafeteria had food in it. As I began my life as a homeless man of nineteen, I returned to that solution. A stolen lunch got me caught by the workers, and when I stopped running, I saw the skyscrapers of downtown in the distance. A vague memory of a trip to Herman Park as a child inspired me to head that way, but I didn’t know that the park wasn’t downtown. Consequently, I didn’t find it for months, and in that time I lived in a misery that could only be called “better” because of the life I had escaped. In my school days, when food was being withheld from me at home, I learned that the dumpster behind the cafeteria had food in it. As I began my life as a homeless man of nineteen, I returned to that solution. I chose the overpasses to sleep under by their proximity to a restaurant or local grocery’s dumpster. I observed other homeless people, while simultaneously hiding from them, and learned other survival skills, such as knowing which restaurants would dispose of food in takeout containers, so that we could have it. I had to find places others didn’t frequent, because I wasn’t willing to fight for food if many had gathered to eat. A few workers who wanted to be paid for not


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