Stephen Mills is the author of CHOSEN: A Memoir of Stolen Boyhood published by Henry Holt & Company. In this first of many interviews I will be co-hosting with my friend, attorney and advocate Kathryn Robb, we three survivors of child sexual abuse share a moving discussion about the emotional impact of abuse, challenges specific to male survivors, how predators operate, parents who missed the signs, correcting misconceptions, the lawsuit Stephen filed, and so much more.
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At thirteen years old, Stephen Mills is chosen for special attention by the director of his Jewish summer camp, a charismatic social worker intent on becoming his friend. Stephen, whose father died when he was four, places his trust in this authority figure, who first grooms and then molests him for two years. Stephen tells no one, but the aftershocks rip through his adult life, as intense as his denial: self-loathing, drug abuse, petty crime, and horrific nightmares, all made worse by the discovery that his abuser is moving from camp to camp, state to state, molesting other boys. Only physical and mental collapse bring Stephen to confront the truth of his boyhood and begin the painful process of recovery–as well as a decades-long crusade to stop a serial predator, find justice, and hold to account those who failed the children in their care.
The trauma of sexual abuse is shared by one out of every six men, yet very few have broken their silence. Unflinching and compulsively readable, CHOSEN eloquently speaks for those countless others and their families. It is a rare act of consummate courage and generosity–the indelible story of a man who faces his torment and his tormentor and, in the process, is made whole.