Nelson’s Story

“That loving and compassionate willingness to hear and be interested in a human being who was deeply wounded was what made me comfortable enough to open up and begin talking about my story.”

Nelson Hincapie is a husband, father, Colombian-American, and president and CEO of the Voices For Children Foundation. He is also a survivor of child sexual abuse.

Nelson experienced abuse by a trusted teacher starting when he was 12 years old.

“When I look back on the abuse now, it’s obvious that I wasn’t the only kid he groomed and abused.

The teacher who abused Nelson first groomed him through gaining his trust, establishing shared secrets, and crossing boundaries.

“He gained my trust by being really nice. He was the cool teacher, he let me drive his car when I was 12, but he told me that I couldn’t tell anyone because I was too young to drive.”

Nelson didn’t have the resources or support to heal after experiencing the abuse, and turned to unhealthy coping mechanisms, including drug use. When he was 24, Nelson entered a drug rehabilitation facility and disclosed for the first time about the abuse to his doctor there.

“He was great. He didn’t lecture me about how much pain I’d caused my loved ones with my addiction or what I needed to change, he just asked the right questions and then listened.”

Nelson, like many male survivors of sexual abuse, has felt that the abuse was a source of shame and confusion.

“I don’t think it’s talked about at all. I think that for heterosexual men to be abused in their childhood by adult males it is a source of great shame and deep wounds."

“When you’re a kid, it’s confusing to have a biological response of pleasure to an outside stimulus. It was important to understand that feeling pleasure did not reflect my sexual identity.”

As Nelson started to recover from addiction and heal from the abuse, he turned to his spiritual life for support, which has been a profound source of comfort and strength.

“My path back to the Catholic Church was slow and gradual. I despised it for many years because even though no priest ever abused me, I assumed that all priests were abusers like the teacher who abused me.”

Nelson has found healing in the caring, compassionate people who have supported him in his journey, such as his wife and children, his spiritual director (a priest), and his therapist.

“For me, healing came from finding silence in the midst of chaos. When the noise comes from within, there can be no peace. We need to quiet the noise within to be able to be at peace throughout.”

In 2019, Nelson reached a point in his healing where he felt ready to report the abuse. He contacted the police department and the school system where the abuse occurred, but was not able to find justice because he was outside the timeframe for the statute of limitations for the crime.

Nelson and his wife have four children who he hopes will never experience anything like what he went through.

“In my relationship with my own children, it’s about being honest and transparent about my own journey. It’s about sharing my wounds with them and letting them be part of the healing process. It’s making sure I stay close to them and know what’s going on in their lives. There are definitely red flags, we should teach our kids that if they feel uncomfortable around some people, they should trust their instinct.”

“For me, it’s been 24 years and countless tears, I have walked through a lot of pain to be where I am. There will always be difficult times, but the wounds of the abuse have healed.”

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