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Meet JJ.

JJ is a survivor, and he healed at CVTC.
This is his story.

Thanks to his generosity and courage, CVTC is able to tell a survivor's story like never before.

 

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This is JJ.

Part One


His smile is warm and it's contagious.  His eyes are bright and welcoming.  Everything he does in life, he does with a full and open heart.  When you talk with JJ, you have his undivided attention, as if you're the only person in the world.  He is grounded, and spiritual, and he sings in a choir.  He meditates, and he considers his words before he speaks them.  He is connected to his roots.  He has a profound and quiet strength that you can feel when you're close to him.  He has lived in Williamsburg since before it was cool, and he works in marketing for a number of big name clients.  He does volunteer work that improves hundreds of lives.  JJ makes life look easy.  He looks like someone who breezes through each day, focusing on the positive and allowing the negative to simply slip past.  But this wasn't always the case.

JJ was born in Chicago in the eighties to parents who had emigrated from the Philippines to escape the Japanese occupation in World War II. When JJ was six, his father's job was transferred to Michigan.  Being Filipino in rural Michigan from ages 6-12 meant that JJ looked different from his peers, and the poverty his family experienced meant that he didn't have all of the things that other kids did.  Kids can be cruel, especially to the one who doesn't look like them.   At an early age, JJ learned what it meant to face racism and classism.

When he was 12, they moved to the San Jose area of California, where he spent the remainder of his childhood, and attended junior high and high school.  Though the culture of California was a breath of fresh air in some ways, JJ, his sister and his parents lived crammed into one room at his uncle's house.  It was not long after moving to California that JJ experienced the abuse which brought him many years later to CVTC.

Despite experiencing profound, chronic trauma, JJ completed a Bachelor's degree in film studies at UC Berkeley.  He then earned a Master's degree in Architecture and Preservation, which has allowed him to lead recovery efforts in the Philippines after the damage caused by 2013's typhoon and earthquake.  JJ has assisted the Filipino federal government in picking up and putting back together the pieces of national buildings and historic artifacts in the wake of devastating natural disaster.  He has taught others how to help in this work.  But the greatest restoration project in JJ's life was about to begin at CVTC: the restoration of his spirit, which had survived devastating disaster, and which for a time had looked all but broken...  

 
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Part Two

I have a story.

 

"My half brother arrived soon after we moved to California.  He was 15 years older than me.  I didn't grow up with him, he was raised by my aunt in the Philippines, but I was to call him my brother.  His name is Marty.  He seemed nice.  He paid attention to me and my sister.  He'd play video games with us, take us to the park and drive us to Blockbuster to rent movies.

I can't remember the first time it happened, but I remember the location - my cousin's house in Concord, CA.  It started out as play; we were wrestling and tickling each other on the bed.  But then he touched me down there.  I was 11 years old.

Every time we went to Concord it would happen again.  In his room, he'd have me lay down on the floor with my head against the door, to hold it shut.  It would happen in the car while we were driving with my family, underneath my baby blanket, in the front seat of the car.  While my father was driving.  Then Marty moved in with our family.  It would happen each time I came home from school.  He would hold me down, tickle me and then touch me.

He used to give me 'presents' whenever I did sexual things with him.  I'd always accept them gratefully, as my parents didn't have enough money to buy us toys.  One day, he gave me a boom box he had bought in Japan.  I took it out to the garage and smashed it to bits.  My brother found it and got upset.  He took me into his room, pinned me down and started hitting me.  My family was on their way out to dinner.  My brother explained what I had done while he held me on the floor in front of them.  They left me with him and he kept on hitting me.  Later, when my parents came home, they told me to apologize to my brother.  I did.

We moved twice more, Marty with us each time.  I was in junior high by this time, in Santa Clara.  There were two bullies that liked calling me a faggot, pushing me, hitting me, tripping me and embarrassing me.  Everyone would join in.  I was scared to walk down the halls.  There was no one I could trust.  I began getting horrible migraines and having anxiety attacks at school.  Then when I got home, I had my brother to contend with.  I was in hell.  

We moved again, and Marty had a room down the hall.  He started in on my again, but I tried to stop it.  I was bigger now.  I started to hurt him by kicking him in the balls and hitting him.  I'd pretend that we were going to play, and then kick him as hard as I could.  He'd try to get me into his room, try overpowering me on the bed, but somehow, since I had grown, I was able to squirm out of his grasp and run to my room.

I tried not to think about it after it stopped.  He moved out during my freshman year of high school.  He moved to Seattle.  He married a woman from the Philippines.  They have three children.

About 8 years ago, my brother was accused of something that involved his son and two of his son's friends.  He was put on probation and is now on the sex offenders list.  A while after I heard that, I travelled to Seattle to confront my brother.  I reminded my brother what he had done to me, and how much it had hurt me.  I told him that the abuse affects me to this day.  I told him that I'm sick of being depressed because of it.  I told him that if he ever did it to another kid, I would shoot him in the head (I didn't say that last part, but I really wanted to).

That was a few years ago, and unfortunately I'm still being made to feel guilty about what happened.  My family doesn't understand.

But I now have a voice.  I have agency.  I am proud to bear witness to you.  I have healed, and next week I'll share with you all the ways that CVTC helped me do that.  I have survived.

Thank you for reading my story.  It means the world to me."

 

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part three

 
 

 

 

JJ began his healing work at the Crime Victims Treatment Center in September of 2015.  

Like so many of the clients we see, the idea of addressing his past was so overwhelming that he cancelled two intake appointments, but found the courage to come in for the third.  He dove into the trauma work, and after 10 months of intense individual therapy and a support group for male survivors of childhood sexual abuse, JJ emerged empowered and enlivened.  Three days after his last session, he flew to visit his family in the Philippines.  For the first time in decades, JJ felt the freedom to be himself.  He no longer felt weighted by a cloud of shame and pain within him.  Like the buildings in the Philippines JJ worked so hard to restore, the work he did on himself has left JJ feeling whole.  His memories are no longer in control; he is.  

We at CVTC could not be more grateful to JJ for sharing his story.  We celebrate his courage and resilience.  

 

JJ will become a Volunteer Advocate next year.  
That's how he chooses to give.

 We hope that this season you'll choose to support our program too.  When you make a donation to CVTC, it goes directly to making sure that any survivor of violence has access to the transformative healing services that JJ did.  

 

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"This is why it's important to support CVTC."

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