No, I Do Not Have the Bieber Fever

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I don’t think Shane ever pictured himself doing this. I am going to guess that he never, ever wanted to think about it again. But this time, when it came back to him, he was ready for it.

shane2.jpgHis earliest memory was coming through the front door of his house at the age of five, and watching his mother try to crawl across the floor to reach him, her body battered and bleeding from another unprovoked act of violence from a man who only hurt them. That same man grabbed Shane’s hand and took him out the door and down the street, promising him ice cream. As he ate his ice cream, Shane listened to the man explain to him that, “Sometimes, women just need to be taught a lesson.” But Shane never knew what that “sometimes” really meant, because it seemed to be all the time.

Shortly after, his mom managed to drag herself and Shane out of that place and create a new life for the two of them. It was later that she met Ray. Ray was different, and when Shane and his mom moved to Stratford, Ontario with him, life began to take on a new hope. Ray was good to Shane, and he refused to allow Shane to believe a lie about women – and somehow, Ray’s words were able to erase the damage done to Shane’s view of his own mother. It felt good to have something stable and consistent for Shane. In his memory is one conversation with Ray in particular that happened in a corn field on the edge of Stratford. Full of rage and confusion, Shane had just punched his mother in the stomach because she wouldn’t let him do something. Ray stepped in, grabbed his hand, and took him off into the corn field behind their house, where he spoke to Shane about how women really should be treated and how in doing so, you are respecting yourself. Somehow, that conversation began to undo some of the damage from earlier in his young life, and even though he couldn’t remember what exactly they talked about, he knew that he wanted to be different from that time forward.

shane.jpgWhen Shane was 9, Ray’s 14 year old nephew began to hang around their house and even offered to baby sit Shane. At first, it seemed pretty cool to have an older kid want to play basketball with him and to hang out with. But underneath it was a dark sickness that lurked: Ray’s nephew was a pedophile, even though he was still a ‘child’ himself. However, like many abused children, Shane had blocked out the trauma and tried to focus on keeping his life straightened out.

Through high school, he was that guy: the quiet guy who everyone knew, who always seemed to be getting into trouble, and who seemed indifferent towards the world as a whole. But it was all a veneer of self preservation: inside he knew there was something wrong, but couldn’t quite decipher through the loneliness and pain to figure it out.

As he graduated and moved on, Shane slowly began to open up to the possibilities that the world held for him. He wanted more, and he wanted to make a difference. It was then that he found out about LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) and our School of Leadership.

In the time leading up to coming to LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute), the memories suddenly came flooding back. All of the abuse, the hurt and trauma was there, only this time he was in a place to begin to face it and turn it into something for good. This past fall, as he was preparing to go on our high school tours, Shane made the incredibly courageous decision to speak up. He chose to a become a voice for those who often feel they are left without one.

teampicssk_2011spring-14.jpgThere aren’t many guys who are willing to ever consider talking about their personal lives on a stage in front of thousands of high school students – there are even less who are willing to talk about surviving sexual abuse. Shane is pretty much a one in a million kind of guy: he sees the possibilities, not the limitations of what life hands you. As he steps out on that stage and begins to share his story, it is more than a story of survival – it is a story of hope. And hope never lets go.

As the lights come back up and the band plays his intro jingle, with the mic in hand, he begins: “Hi, my name is Shane and I am from Stratford, Ontario. No, I do not know Justin Bieber, and no, I do not have the Bieber Fever. But my life was changed by a conversation that I had in a corn field, and the funniest thing is that I can’t even remember what it was about…”

To find out more about LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) and our programs, check out

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: March 7th, 2011