'The most intense violation of my life': A beloved camp, a lost boy and the lifelong impact of child sexual trauma

USA Today

Alia E. Dastagir, USA TODAY
Photo: Reuters

When Peter Wien was 10 years old, he started biting his hand, gnawing on it almost daily, his mouth sculpting the soft skin between his thumb and index finger into an arched callus. Occasionally, he broke flesh. Biting was how Peter managed what was happening at camp.

He doesn't remember how the abuse began, only the way it persisted – in the cabin in the afternoon, above the barn, when walking to the lake. He remembers the time the counselor guided him through the trees, took off both their clothes and perpetrated the abuse of which so many don't speak, the abuse we lock inside.

Peter remembers the clearing they would go to and the mossy spot where they would lie, surrounded by the furrowed bark of Sugar Maples and the elephant skin of American Beech. Deeper in the forest around them, trees absorbed the dampness of shadows as confusion ballooned in Peter's belly. Peter remembers climbing the ladder to the barn's loft where costumes were stored for shows, the ball in his throat when he realized the counselor had followed. He can still feel the unsettling abruptness of those moments after the counselor would stop, the unease of all that was left unsaid and unknown. 

Publish : 2022-01-10 21:34:00

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