Marko Hamlin was raised in Arlington, Virginia. The son of an alcoholic mother, he was placed into foster care around five years old. His mother had visitation and he remembers being returned to his mother in fourth grade. Marko graduated from Wakefield High School, in Arlington Virginia and joined the armed forces, serving one term before ending his military career.
Marko was promiscuous and although men are often celebrated for being a ladies’ man, Marko admits that much of his detachment to women, and sexual promiscuity were related to things that he was embattled with much of his life.
Marko served in the Army and was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. After leaving the military the six-foot seven forward/center played basketball for a Junior College and was recruited on scholarship to play for St. Augustine. Marko Hamlin, attending the College of Southern Maryland, was named the NJCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Player of the Week, Dec. 21, 2006. There were promises made by people who worked for St. Augustine, ensuring that Marko would be financially taken care of, that were not kept. This situation quickly soured Marko’s confidence and trust in those he once believed, supportive of his gifts and talents, and he left college to embark on a journey that he did not know would lead him to love, God.
CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
“The first time, I didn’t think it was my fault but I knew it wasn’t right. He would make me do things. He did things to make me be his friend, and he used those things to take advantage of me.”
Marko was first sexually abused at the age of four. Marko’s mother was working overnight when she asked for a teenage family friend to watch he and his sister. When she returned home, she knew that something was wrong when she saw Marko’s underwear torn, and evidence of abuse from his sister who was around two years old. Marko’s mother called the police, and remembers that the teenager received probation.
He was abused several times by two males, a foster cousin, and the family friend mentioned above, who were ten years or more, older than he at the time. He was also abused by his foster sister who was seven years older.
These were all separate incidents that happened on more than one occasion. He was often hit physically by one of the perpetrators and commanded to perform sexual acts on himself, and the teenage boy. More striking is the commonness of abusers who, often go on to live “normal” lives and maintain relationships with their victims beyond the abuse- even denying it or minimizing it, which is a form of emotional or psychological abuse.
Marko knew that something was wrong because he was being physically hit. He informed his mother of the sexual abuse, and the police were called. He remembers that he did not tell on all of his perpetrators, but in this case, the police sent Marko to counseling as a way to collect evidence against the predator. Marko was asked to demonstrate what had been done on a toy doll. The counseling sessions stopped, and although Marko saw child psychologists for the trauma of becoming a foster child, child sexual abuse was never brought up again.
The female perpetrator stopped because of an argument in the foster home that exposed her actions. Although Marko was never questioned about his claims, the foster sister never sexually abused him again.
FOSTER CARE HOME
Marko was a member of a new home. Foster homes are supposed to be filled with love. Marko says that he wants to make sure that people know that they are not forgotten, and to speak up to their case worker so that they can be helped. He thought that since he was accustomed to the family, and had been there for years, he would prolong getting back to his mother if he told of the sexual abuse, which was his primary goal. He says that all he could think about was getting back to his mother. He encourages social workers to do thorough investigations on the homes that are offering to take children in. Mr. Hamlin says that as an adult, he still wonders if his foster family ever loved him.
He was forced alcohol and forced to fight children in the neighborhood, and if he lost a fight he was forced to get into a bath tub and be whooped by family members. Mr. Hamlin looked up to his older family members and was fearful of what they would make him do.
He remembers being in third grade, studying for a spelling test and each time he misspelled the word W-A-T-C-H by spelling it W-A-C-H he would be struck with a leather belt on his hand. Marko’s greatest desire was to be reunited with his mother. He became angry at foster family members because of how he was treated and was internally aggressive awaiting a time to unleash his rage on anyone who would cross the line. Hamlin is a funny, fun-loving type of man and acknowledges how such physical, psychological and sexual abuse in his foster care home has played a part in his life.
THE EVENTS THAT CHANGED HIS LIFE
How did you know that this was something that you weren’t healed from, I asked.
We live in a time when emotional abuse is not something that men are able to identify with because they are often ridiculed for acknowledging that they have emotions. When men are emotional, women and men often call them soft, weak, gay or homosexual and feminine. These references to the association of weakness and emotional needs of men are often just as abusive and traumatizing as when the man was first violated.
Mr. Hamlin is candid to share a time when the first revelation of his traumatizing past caught up him. He was in the military, home for thanksgiving break when he and two other passengers in a friend’s car were hit by a drunk driver who had two female passengers in the car as well.
The two women, who were passengers in the drunk driver’s car, were ejected from the car in the middle of 395 south bound. Marko remembers seeing the Pentagon on his right hand side. What was troubling was not the accident itself, it was the brain of the two female passengers that were exposed on the highway floor, and the body parts that were scattered around the crime scene. A flurry of feelings about things that had happened to him resurfaced, and he returned to the Fort Bragg.
So, overwhelmed by internal thoughts of his childhood, and the recent accident, Marko was not able to fulfill his orders to Iraq, and continued his duties here, imploding by depression.
Two additional major events would change his life, and resurface his tragic life beginnings. Marko welcomed the birth of his daughter in 2007 and the death of his father, one month apart. Marko Hamlin longed to develop a relationship with his father, who cared for his half siblings, and had chosen not to father him. He had the opportunity to live with his father for a brief time as an adult, restore their relationship, and to totally forgive his fatherless ways.
During the time that his father was sick and his then girlfriend was pregnant, he left everything in life behind and ran to the aid of his daughter who was admitted to John Hopkins University, due to birth complications, and his father who was admitted to Arlington Hospital in Arlington, Virginia.
Still embattled with depression, and needing a change; hoping for something that was empty to be filled, he leaned on the mercy-seat of God. He knew who God was, but did not have a one on one relationship with him, prior to these three significant events all relating to life and death.
MARKO HAMLIN TODAY
Today, Marko is married to his then girlfriend, and mother of his child. His family attends the First Baptist Church of Glenarden church, where he credits the men’s ministry for helping him to develop and cultivate a personal relationship with God.
He is strong enough now to share his story, and to fight the mental illness of depression with faith. People often use the word depression as a term to relate to their feelings of the moment. Clinically there are two types of depression, situational and clinical; both types may require medication. He is inspired and empowered to help other men who are living with the pain of their past, to experience the same liberty that he does. His favorite scripture is Romans 8:28 which says,
MY THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY
Marko Hamlin is amazing and maybe I’m giving way to my own emotions here but I am so proud to know a male survivor of child sexual abuse who desires to stand up on a stage, a pulpit, a car, or a step-ladder in the Walmart to declare that not only is he victorious but he’s taking hostages. His belief and devotion to his spiritual practices are infectious and make us all want to believe more, and do more to aid in the healing process of those who have been mentally, physically and sexually abused.
Marko Hamlin’s story encourages me to continue writing, and speaking about child sexual abuse prevention and awareness. It ministers to me, that we can put a gap between the current statistics and lower the number of men and women who have these haunting stories of child sexual abuse.
It also reminds me that there is hope in God, and that although we have been through trials and tribulation our ability to share our testimony will allow us room to recreate ourselves, and prepare for destiny. Everything that we do in life, is a portion of what is to come of our calling, and if we can be the sacrifice to prevents others from having this same story, then waking up each morning is absolutely worth it.
As I pen often, the church is not doing enough to address mental illness, and sobriety. I believe that we must start at the root, and many churches say this, but then they don’t actually do it. With staggering numbers of foster children sexually abused, eighty percent of narcotics and substance abusers who are victims of child sexual abuse and a high percentage of those suffering from mental illness having experienced sexual abuse as a child, the church must wake up, and reformat ministries to address problems that began as traumatic injury from our childhood.
We also must employ biblical principles to ensure that we are not allowing sexual predators, and emotionally abusive parents and parishioners to walk among us without requiring accountability. Thank you Marko Hamlin for allowing me to pen your story, and for opening your mouth, your heart and your spirit to set other free. The best is truly yet to come.
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– Ressurrection Graves,
Author and Speaker
Child Sexual Abuse Advocate
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