Survivor Stories




My name is Cornelius. I’m a black African American man and this is my recovery story.

As a child, I was molested by a relative. When I was sentenced to 30 years on July 27, 1995, I was 18 years old. At my permanent camp, I was sexually assaulted at knifepoint by an older gentleman inside his cell. From there, I never told anyone for fear of being exposed as gay or killed for snitching. Remember, I was 18 year old, a first time prisoner and naive to the prison game.

For years, I lived in fear hiding the pain and hurt I felt. I started cutting my arms to hide the pain from being violated. I was then transferred for that reason. I went to another facility. Still, I never revealed that happened to me.

Then, in 2004, I was sexually assaulted again, this time by physical force. As a result, I contracted HIV. That alone ripped my world apart. I felt exposed, like life was over for me. I had thoughts of not living to have a family, kids, and a woman to love me.

Today, I still think it’s impossible, but through it all, through the help of Just Detention International (JDI), it gave me hope, a hope to know I can overcome my fears. Every day, I meditate with the packet. It’s helping! I’m learning to let go and let God handle my problems.

I’m hoping for tomorrow. That’s because of people like JDI.

– Cornelius, Florida