Survivor Story- Lou Bivona
- On January 21, 2016
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Lou and I have become great friends. Once I started sharing my journey of healing, a friend said I needed to meet Lou. He didn’t say why, just said we needed to meet. We meet a few years ago, and became great friends. We both are survivors that want to help others heal. We both are survivors that were quiet for decades and the damage done took a great toll on us both, like many other survivors. We have a developed a friendship of support and we both have a great desire to help other survivors heal and know we can do great things in our lives. Here is Lou’s story and video. The picture is of Lou and I when we meet at my office for the first time. Lou is a great man and my friend. Read Lou’s story below.
“My abuse was a blessing not a curse. Let me tell you why but first here is my story much like yours.
I was abused starting at around age 8-9 but what contributed to my abuse was that my father was very physically abusive. He would at the drop of one look or word pull out a barber strap which is more like a paddle with a snap to it. Several times I dove out the front window, the front storm door window and the bathroom window. If I was bleeding he would have to rush me to the Doctor instead of continuing to beat me. So when my cousin came to live with us I was primed for attention. He was 16 and I was his little buddy. He like most predators was like a shark circling in the water for my blood. So I was a willing victim. He took me under his wing and would say “I’m going to teach you what big men do”. He would block the bedroom door with the dresser and… Till a couple of years later my aunt; his mother came to visit and starts bagging on the door screaming what is going on in there. I think she knew and he was gone the next day. As I say in the video it was about 43 years later when he called asking for help, saying; “I have been FALSELY accused of sexually abusing my 9 year old step son”. The ironic thing was that I was at a National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) board meeting in DC. That phone call changed my life forever. What I had known on a daily basis and wanted to deny validated what I was hiding from everyone. Fifty to 60 times a day I would watch this video in my head of myself being abused by him. Here I was this big child advocate and never said a word to anyone. I used the NCMEC as my therapy learning everything that there is to know about the topic and what the profile of the abuser and victim is like. I refused even at that moment to admit that it was true and did not hang up or confront him. I gave the phone to a fellow board member that was a defense attorney and said will you talk to him. It lead to my isolation and desire to be alone costing me my marriage. It is hard to remember much of my childhood and I was always angry. It took a long time to control that. I would right people off in a heartbeat. I never wanted to be close to anyone and people thought I was their best friend. I never believed it. In fact when I would call them or for that matter a client I would panic thinking that they were going to tell me to go to hell. It was crazy that I would have to pump myself up to make calls to anyone. Trust was nonexistent and to avoid life’s trials instead of drugs I would get up in the am to be at the gym at 4:30, get to my business by 8 and coach hockey at 7 five days a week. I was on treadmill of working out, work, hockey, eat and sleeping starting again in the am. There is more but you get the picture and have been there. I suffered from PTSD and 7 years ago I did EMDR to push those 50 a day videos out of my daily living allowing me to begin to heal. If you are suffering from PTSD or any psychological stress read this, http://www.emdria.org/?page=2 “What is EMDR Therapy? It is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. To date, EMDR therapy has helped millions of people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress.
Now you ask why this nut is saying that it is a blessing. Well John Walsh and his family were best friend of my wife and her family. On July 27th; Kathie’s birthday we get a call that Adam was missing. A year later we start the Adam Walsh Center to start teaching kids how to avoid abduction and sexual abuse. In 1984 we started the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC http://www.missingkids.org ). If I had not lived being a victim I would not know how to fight it. Back in the early 80’s there was very little published or written about sexual victimization of children. So I pushed hard to create a curriculum for training children to avoid both. The thought back then was 90% was stranger danger and the flipside is true that 90% of the child knows the abuser and 56% is inter familiar. In 1985 NCMEC realized that we were only getting a 10% conviction rate. The abusers were victimizing between 9 and 100 children. So the concept of Child Advocacy’s Center was born. By co-locating the police, DA, Physician, the pre and post social service teams, victims advocate team along with psychiatric help you jump the conviction rate from 10% to 70%. In this model the child has one interview by the CAC’s team coordinator while the rest watch thru a one way mirror in a child friendly building. , not the old way of 6 to 10 interviews that used to lead to a very low conviction rate putting the abuser back on the street. Today I’m proud to say that the Bivona CAC is rank in the top 2 out of the 770 CACs in the US. http://www.bivonacac.org.
Not being a victim I would probably be sitting on my couch watching re-runs of Gilligan’s Island thinking that missing and abused children were a made up fantasy.
NCMEC since we started in 1984 has assisted in recovering 215,000 children and thru our Cyber Tip line analyzed 30 million child porn images and videos resulting in 35,000 arrest. The Bivona CAC has helped 12,000 sexually abused children resulting in thousands of convictions.
I believe in GOD and that every disappointment is a favor. God through Devine Alignment put John Walsh in my path and he along with the work of NCMEC, the CACs and Darkness to Lite have changed this world for our children to the good. The sexual abuse rate for boys and girls combined has dropped from 20% to 10%. That is the good news. The bad news is that we are creating a whole new world of sexual abusers with the internet. Boys 11 to 16 are watching 4 to 6 hours a day of hard core adult porn on their wireless devices. Their brains are only 50% developed and being reprogramed so that by the time they are 25 they are slipping into child porn. Next phase is getting a child victim of their own to satisfy themselves. These boys in the old world would of never have done this. Playboy or Hustler was the old way of soft porn. Fast forward to 2010 boys are being driven by their hormones with access to the internet into this other dark world. They are also treating girls with total disrespect. The clinical term for this is; pornographic erectile dysfunction. The only way going forward for them to engage in a relationship is to watch porn while having intercourse. Think about how scary and dangerous this is for their partners. This along with violent video games is the ticking time bomb.
The fight goes on and with Dave’s blog and you the survivors we need to come out of the darkness to fight the fight. I challenge every one of you to start standing up for children. We are unlike cancer survivors willing to fight for a bigger cause. This must change now and hopefully Dave’s blog will be the engine that could.”
Here is the link to Lou’s video and story. Powerful video https://www.dropbox.com/s/y1ydze63mcllhm5/Lou%20Bivona%27s%20interview.mov?dl=0
Founder of Bivona CAC
Founder Adam Walsh Center
Founder and Chairman National Center for Missing & Exploited Children/Northeast Region
Chairman of Public Relation Committee NCMEC Nationally
Recipient of the Ronald Regan Award for Private Sector Initiative
Boxing Hall of Fame Humanitarian Award
Italian American Humanitarian Award