Réjean had an ugly secret. He concealed it to protect a family member—but had no idea the depth of personal harm that would cause. Revealing the traumatic experience was the only thing that could set him free. And the longer he waited, the more destructive was its impact.
“At age 12 I was abused by a neighbour,” says Réjean. “I was afraid to tell my parents—my dad would kill him. That would mean prison and I didn’t want to lose my dad.”
Ripped apart by the abuse and the shame of deception, Réjean turned to alcohol to numb the pain—then drugs. By age 15 he’d left home, quit school, was a full-blown addict and participated in criminal activity.
“To feed my addiction I robbed people at gunpoint,” says Réjean. “I did a lot of things in my life that weren’t nice.”
Réjean eventually became a father, but addiction had overtaken his ability to be a good dad and husband. His family left him and he had no contact with them for 13 years.
“Dad, I am giving you a second chance,” said the voice on the phone. It was Réjean’s adult son.
Réjean knew he had to get his act together or he would lose his family forever. He had a grandchild now and for the first time in his life really cared about maintaining sobriety—but needed help.
“I had to get out of the hole I’d fallen into,” says Réjean, “I was in deep and knew I couldn’t climb out on my own.”
Réjean took that vital step toward recovery and contacted The Salvation Army’s Booth Centre in Montreal.
“I wanted so much more out of life,” says Réjean, “but was still held hostage by my secret.”
Breaking the Silence
The Booth Centre offers housing and various programs to meet the needs of men in difficulty or at risk of homelessness. Programs such as addictions therapy give clients the tools they need to change their thinking and break the cycle of addiction.
Through therapy, Réjean was able to face the truth about his traumatic experience of abuse, for the first time in his life. “I cried like a baby,” he says. It was then he was able to move forward.
In February 2015 Réjean celebrates two years of sobriety. He volunteers at a Salvation Army drop-in centre and is a mentor to others gripped by addiction. He has reunited with family members—some of whom he hadn’t seen for over 20 years.
“Without The Salvation Army I’d be in jail or dead,” says Réjean. “For the first time in decades, I’m in control of my life, and that feels good.”