FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT: THE STORY OF CLARK FREDERICKS
Clark Fredericks was raped at age 12.
But the grooming started years before by a man that he not only looked up to but trusted completely – a Lt. in the local Sheriff’s department, a trusted family friend and boy scout master.
“What the abuse did was destroy my childhood, destroy my trust and destroy my faith,” Fredericks said. “My mind, in order to protect me, told me that talking about the abuse was equal to reliving it and we surely didn't want to do that. And thus, my biggest regret in life began and that was the keeping of a debilitating secret.”
Tragically, the darkness consumed him. Clark instantly lost interest in sports and school. Began smoking marijuana on a regular basis. Drinking alcohol was his go-to mechanism. This carried over into his college years before he began experimenting with harder drugs like cocaine, LSD and mushrooms.
“As my life progressed on, I sabotaged every romance and squandered every potential career opportunity,” Fredericks said. “I've led the most exhausting life. I was always in a hypervigilant state, never slowing down in life ever, always trying to out-run the pain that lurked within. In my 30s, a gambling addiction left me bankrupt. In my 40s, PTSD overtook me and I fell into a deep depression. Every day just to simply get out of bed and go to work felt like climbing Mt. Everest.”
Still reeling from the unforgivable pain he suffered through as a child, and not knowing how to combat what he was experiencing, Clark began abusing drugs and alcohol simply to get him through his day. At one point, he was diagnosed with a herniated disc and prescribed Vicodin – he took care of 30 pills in just a few days and felt like Superman on them.
“When the doctor wouldn't give me anymore, I simply went to the street to find them and thus began a six-year long pain pill addiction,” he said.
This was Clark’s life.
Until, by chance, he bumped into his rapist in a deli. By his side was a young boy calling him the same nickname Clark used to.
“I ran out of there that day and sunk into the abyss,” Fredericks said. “I could no longer climb Mt. Everest after that day and quit my job of 16 years. With free time, memories of my abuse and abuser front and center, and deep hidden pain suddenly unlocked, I quickly began abusing any and every substance I could get my hand on.”
Clark was using 12-25 pain pills per day, 2-4 bags of heroin, 3-5 grams of coke, 8-12 Xanax and drinking two or more bottles of wine, a 12-pack of beer and a bottle of vodka.
“I was a completely broken man with no boundaries left in life and not caring if I lived or died,” Fredericks said. “That led me to wake up on June the 12, 2012, where not even murder was outside my realm of possibilities.”
That day, Fredericks drove to his abuser’s home and killed him.
“The most difficult period was the first three months of my arrest,” he said. “My first four weeks of confinement were in a suicide cell at the county jail – a horrible experience. I had severed all the ligaments and tendons off my left hand and was kept in isolation for another three weeks until the cast was removed. I was suicidal and just wanted to die. Each day waking up, I cursed my existence and hated life. I struggled with prayer and faith early on because of my anger towards the abuse. One morning I called out to God and asked for help in either killing myself or healing myself. People from all around the country had been sending me self-help/spiritual books, meditation, mantra and yoga books, mindfulness books and The Bible. I picked up one of the books to read because it was small, and I figured I could get through it.”
The book was Victor Frankl's, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” In it, Clark said, was a quote that ignited something in him:
"When you are faced with an intolerable situation that will not change, you must change yourself."
And thus began his awakening and transformation
“Upon my release from prison I instantly became an advocate working on getting a new child abuse law enacted in New Jersey,” Fredericks said. “The current Statute of limitations law stated that you had from age 18 to 20 to come forward to file a lawsuit. The average age for people to talk about their abuse is between age 48 to 52, so basically this law was useless; nobody was coming forward at that age to sue. I went from eating prison food surrounded by insane inmates, to having power lunches with senators, assemblymen and lobbyists. I went from testifying in court trying to avoid a life sentence, to testifying before the House Judicial Committee urging for a change of the law. I am thrilled to inform you, that on March 25, the new bill passed its final vote unanimously and one week ago the Governor just signed it into law.”
This new law gives abusers up to age 55 to come forward to file a lawsuit, a huge difference from the old law. Clark has also begun his career as a motivational speaker, sharing his story with others as it not only helps with his own healing, but gives him meaning and purpose through helping others confront their own pain.
“I’ve written a memoir titled, ‘A Hole in My Soul’ and it is being shopped around for a publishing deal,” Clark said. “I just finished shooting a documentary with NBC that details my life story and that is expected to air in the fall. These are all avenues I'm using to broaden my platform and reach more people who are hurting and still in silence. I don't want anyone to follow in my footsteps. I'm trying to reach them before they become as broken as I became and prevent them from either taking their own life or following my path. The molestation is not what destroyed me; my secrecy and unwillingness to share my pain is what destroyed me.”
Through it all, Clark discovered an innate, healing love in powerlifting. Upon his release from prison, Clark visited his old gym in New Jersey. It had been at least 15 years since he’d been in there. But as soon as he walked in, the owner gave him a big hug. Lifting instantly became part of his therapy and a healthy outlet for his demons.
“My nephew bought me my first APEMAN shirt, Strong Love,” Clark said. “I saw you had written meanings to what each shirt said and it intrigued me. I started going through them all and the shirts actually began speaking to me. They were more than just some cute saying; there was heart and soul behind each shirt.”
Clark’s favorite shirt, however, is SUFFERING UNLEASHES GREATNESS.
“This sums my life up totally,” he said. “Everyone who sees me with it on comments how appropriate it is for my life. For anyone struggling, have a support network where you can feel comfortable sharing what you're going through. I thought I was a big bad tough guy and could bury or ignore all my pain and torment. Well, it doesn't work that way. You need to be transparent and reveal your pain to others.
“It’s the only way to begin healing.”