Ron Bilton is a complex and unique human being.
He’s a man who possesses the kind of uncanny strength and steely determination required to do what few people burdened with his life circumstances can do. A man who had the courage to confront his debilitating internal demons and share his painful story in a very public way.
“One Piece of a Life,” is a byproduct of his journey.
Between the ages of ten (10) and seventeen (17) Ron was the victim of sexual abuse and manipulation orchestrated by a highly skilled, controlling sexual predator. A sexual predator so adept at his craft he was able to abuse young Ron directly under the very noses of the people inherently trusted to ensure his safety, his parents.
These were different times, times when families often brought “renters” into the home to help make ends meet. Ron’s abuser had the outward appearance of a respectable “average Joe.” He was a middle class guy with a good job and a car. He was skilled in the fine art of conversation and had the uncanny ability to infiltrate the emotional boundaries that normally separate strangers from family members.
“Don,” became just like “one of the family.”
Once he achieved that status, Ron’s fate was sealed. Like the true predator he was, Don slowly started to groom and isolate young Ron from his family. That process included the need to slowly destroy Ron’s self esteem and confidence. He taught Ron to keep his mouth shut through subtle ridicule and manipulation. Like a pack of wolves cutting a tender young lamb from the flock, Don isolated Ron from those who might protect him and made his move.
The abuse started slowly, from simple touching and groping to a variety of sex acts that increased in frequency, variety and intensity. The results of the abuse were evident in Ron who found himself trapped in a sea of torment, crippled by fear and anxiety, unable to call out for help or disclose what was to become a dirty unspeakable secret. The destruction of self-esteem forced Ron into a world of silence, his blood boiled with anger and he would find himself giving in to fits of uncontrollable rage.
The tell tales signs of abuse were there but were simply dismissed as something far less sinister. Young Ron was an angry teenager, or so they thought. As a victim of abuse, Ron did the one thing common to many others who shared his painful experience. He found a distraction, something to occupy his mind and body, something to shield him from the pain. For Ron the answer wasn’t found in drugs or alcohol, he found his answer in Taekwondo. From his first kick, Ron found a sport that would ultimately become an obsession. It was a great distraction and escape, an undertaking that would gradually help him rebuild the self-esteem that had been so skillfully destroyed by his abuser.
Ron would soon realize he had a special gift. That gift combined with an insatiable urge to train would see Ron ascend to the heights of Canadian National Champion and a ranking of fifth (5th) in the World. At one point, it appeared his dream of fighting in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea would become a reality. As fate would have it, the dream would die.
An unplanned pregnancy and the financial obligations that came with it weighed heavily on Ron who found himself at a crossroad. It was time to move past the dreams and move towards a new path. That path would find him wearing a Police Uniform. In February of 1988 Ron Bilton joined the Winnipeg Police Service. Although the abuse had ended by this time, the crippling effects lingered. Failed relationships, divorce, issues with intimacy and eventually thoughts of suicide. Ron had a choice, live or die. Like a true warrior he chose life and realized he had to get professional help.
A courageous decision given his chosen profession.
The Police culture during these times was far short of sensitive or compassionate when it came to issues of perceived weakness. These were times when the treatment for post traumatic incident stress consisted of a dozen or so stiff shots of whiskey. Cops simply didn’t talk about their emotions, fears or pain. Accessing professional help was a scary proposition for Ron, his fears of being exposed or being issued a “rubber gun” were legitimate. Like the true warrior he is, Ron put his fear aside and started doing the work.
Police Psychologist Dr Bill Davis would help guide Ron through the tangled web of broken emotions that plague child victims of sexual abuse. It would be a hard journey but Ron would eventually put things into perspective. He would reclaim his sense of self when Dr Davis helped him realize he didn’t become a world-class martial artist because of the abuse he suffered, he ascended to those heights in spite of it. This realization was a turning point for Ron, until that moment he let his sexual abuse and abuser define him. It was a life changing revelation.
One Piece of a Life is not an easy read, it’s a painful ride on an emotional roller coaster that will make you feel sorrow, anger, angst, hope and joy. As a person who suffered great physical and emotional abuse as a child, I identified with almost every aspect of the trauma Ron suffered. The book inspired me and forced me to examine several aspects of my life and intimate relationships.
In writing his story, Ron strives to share his experience to the benefit of other victims of childhood sexual abuse. His hope is that his book will offer victims a sense of understanding and acceptance. He wants to inspire victims to be courageous and find a path to healing.
Above all else, Ron Bilton wants victims of sexual abuse to know the abuse they suffered does not define them, it’s just “One Piece of a Life.”
One (1) in every six (6) men are sexually abused before they reach the age of eighteen (18).
Winnipeg Free Press Mike McIntyre – “Officer reveals sexual abuse trauma.”