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Bill Martin spent the first four years of his life in foster homes. He was adopted and then was sexually abused by multiple offenders.


All images from The Bristlecone Project, used with permission.

Like most victims of sexual abuse, he struggled with an inner voice that told him he was broken and damaged and would say, “Did you ask for any of this?” To which, he’d respond, “No, I didn’t ask for any of this. How can you?! SEVEN years old!”

He now finds solace in the ocean and in playing the piano.

Bill is part of a group called The Bristlecone Project that aims to tell the stories of men who survived sexual abuse as children and have come to a place where they can talk about it and help others heal.

The statistics are staggering — yes, staggering. I can use no better word to describe it.

According to the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before age 18. (And 1 in 4 girls, though this project is specifically about males.)

That's 21 million men who walk around with the shame and guilt of having been sexually abused as a child.

It’s sometimes harder for men to process their own abuse, especially when young, because it kind of touches on the concepts of maleness and masculinity that our society has foisted upon us. “If I were a real man, I would have fought them off!” is a frequent refrain that men who’ve been through it have been known to think.

The Bristlecone Project aims to let men who have been through childhood sexual abuse tell their stories on their own terms.

There’s already a sizable collection of photos and personal stories on the website, but the bigger goal is to create a series of short videos where these men express themselves, what they've lived through, and how they survive.

Powerful? Damned right.

Mark Godoy Jr. was abused at age 8 by an older cousin. He told his parents despite the abuser's threats, and fortunately, it ended.

He still retains some anger and self-blame from those days, however, and has channeled some of that into his art. He also speaks to high schools about his experiences, which helps him heal and provides an opportunity for those kids to begin healing.

Mark's story is exceptional. Many people don't come to terms with their abuse, which is why this project is so important.

Check out the Kickstarter for The Bristlecone Project.

The makers are seeking $50,000 to produce the videos and get them housed somewhere on the web where they can be accessible to everyone.

More in the clip below:

Finally, just know that this is hard stuff for anyone to process. If the stories or images above leave you feeling the need to talk to someone, go to 1in6.org, which is the organization making the videos, and you can get 24/7 online support.

And, as always, if you're feeling desperate or like you might be likely to harm yourself, there's also the suicide hotline at (800) 273-TALK (8255).

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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