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created: 10/16/18
updated: 08/15/19

speechless book cover

by robert ben mitchell
available on amazon

prologue: In 2014, I administered a five question childhood abuse survey to my patients. In the 1980's I was a drug addict, in the 1990's I became an osteopathic physician, and since 2007 I have run an outpatient treatment program for low income and no income people who are addicted to heroin or opioid pain medications. The goal of this survey was to determine how many of my patients had suffered childhood abuse, for how long and, if there had been abuse, had it contributed to their drug usage. Given this was a self-reporting survey, and that the societal bias against talking about abuse allows it to fester unchecked, I was anticipating a very low response rate. However, to my surprise, over half of the respondents answered YES to questions one through four about what kind of abuse they suffered, and nearly half answered YES to question five about whether or not that abuse played a significant role in their drug addiction. As I sat in my office pondering these results, what amazed me the most was that for the first time in my life, sitting there staring at their answers, I admitted to myself that I could answer YES to all five of these questions.

In addition to becoming a physician, I have had many other unforgettable experiences worth writing about. I was shot four times - three times in the back, and once through the left hand - in a drug deal that went horribly wrong. I have been in three commercial airline accidents, including one plane that exploded after landing, a second that did a 360 degree roll-over in mid-air to avoid hitting another airliner by five hundred yards, and a third passenger plane that lost all power and did a two mile dive straight down over the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, I have been poisoned by cyanide, stabbed in the chest, hit by a car going so fast that it bent the bicycle I was riding upon in half, and survived in negative eighty degree Fahrenheit weather. But of all these strange and incredible things, sitting in my office that day while looking at these survey results, I realized that the most amazing thing about me was simply that, unlike one of my brothers, I had survived the first seventeen years of my life.

In preparing to write about my epiphanies, I first had to accept the fact that many people might incorrectly second guess my intentions for making all of this public. This was not an attempt to Jerry Springer anyone, for if public shaming were my goal, then I would have written this book decades ago, properly naming all the people and places. I did not. In fact, the only person whose full name I have used in this book is my own, in an effort to keep the focus on the heinous acts I endured growing up, and not the individuals involved.

Originally, I had wanted to wait several more years until I had finally retired so that I could fully devote my time and energy to this very important topic. It had taken me decades to accept, confront and overcome my own familial Stockholm Syndrome, so letting a little more time pass before committing this to paper did not seem to matter. But, given the recent revelations about the Gold Cross Boys of Pennsylvania - young boys who were given special gold crosses by their Catholic priests so as to mark them for rape by other priests - I did not feel I could wait any longer. Children of abuse must know that they are not alone, and this is my small way of bringing this subject out of the dark. That is why I have written this autobiography about monsters, murder, and rape, thereby breaking and ending a silence that has gone on for too long.

- Robert Ben Mitchell , October 1st, 2018