I want to share with you the courageous story of “Leon,” a young man I met in Playa del Carmen who turned a tragic experience of kidnapping and sexual abuse into a passion for art and inspiration for creative living.
“Leon,” his real name has been changed to honor his privacy, is the survivor of childhood kidnapping and sexual abuse. This story is being re-told with his permission.
Leon was born in Playa del Carmen, México and at the age of nineteen he was kidnapped from his parents and held ransom for a mere 66,000 pesos (approximately $3300USD). During his captivity, Leon was brutally raped and sexually molested by his captors (all men).
Inspiration for Creative Living: Courage Against Impossible Odds
During the 22 days of his kidnapping, he was left alone in a dark room, on a dirt floor, with little to no food and unsanitary water. Alone in the dark, fearing for his life, Leon never knew when the men would return or if he would ever make it out alive. As well, during his captivity, Leon was physically beaten and stabbed in the leg with a knife.
When Leon’s parents were finally able to come up with the ransom money, he was taken from his captivity, driven out and left alongside the highway, bleeding to death, in the middle of the night.
After finally being rescued from the side of the road, he was found very dehydrated, severely wounded, and spent the next month in the hospital. He was traumatized for months after, and to this day, the memories are still hard for Leon to forget.
Inspiration for Creative Living: A Lesson to Learn
After the trauma of a near-death experience, the occurrence had a profound impact on Leon.
At age 27, he has established himself as a successful artist here in México. Since then, Leon has had his work nationally exhibited throughout the country.
The lesson to be learned from Leon’s story is this:
Regardless of the challenges in our lives, even when we believe we are in our darkest hour, we must never give up on ourselves. Things can always be worse, and the value of your own life cannot be understated.
“The Heart of the Lion,” Artwork featured in this post is original art by “Leon,” who has requested to remain anonymous.