Fighting Back from the Innards of Hell

John Borgstedt
John Borgstedt

I RECENTLY MET a young man who filled me with heavy emotions I usually don’t experience.

I heard his story.

And my heart broke.

I was filled with both sadness and anger.

John Borgstedt was far different from anyone I had ever known.

He survived, some say, the worst case of child abuse they had ever seen.

He should be locked away.

Or dead.

But John beat the odds.

He fought his way back from the innards of hell itself.

John became an author.

And he fights every day to save children as he had battled to save himself. As he told me, “One person’s story is someone else’s healing.”

John wants to make a difference.

This is his story.


My name is John Borgstedt. I’m living my passion to save abused and neglected children because I know what it feels like.  According to some in authority, I survived one of the worst cases of child abuse in Texas. I don’t want sympathy – I just want people to hear my story and open their eyes to the abused children that need our help. I remember so many times I could have been helped or maybe even saved but instead adults closed their eyes and did nothing.   Abuse is all around us – sometimes in places you don’t expect.

51+g+mHK4DL._SY400_You see my mom was very educated and my dad was a police officer. The abuse that I suffered was covered up or overlooked.  I was cast away, never to be rescued. MY mother was very malicious and very convincing.  As an adult looking back I believe she must have suffered with Munchausen by Proxy along with other mental issues.   Like too many other children today, I was beaten, starved, locked in small areas, and verbally abused.  But less common was the drugs my mother gave me that caused temporary paralysis. While paralyzed my mother would put me in scalding water, cram food in my mouth, put my head in water or lock me away.

But as long as I live I will never forget how I felt the day she gave me the paralyzing drug and took me out into the woods and put a plastic bag over my head in an attempt to kill me. I was only seven years old but I had figured out how to fake swallowing the pills. Thankfully, this was one of the times I had done just that or I wouldn’t be alive today. When I could no longer breathe I stopped pretending to be paralyzed and got away. I ran and ran until I found someone to help me.  Unfortunately, he didn’t believe me and returned me to the home of my torture.

Not long after this, I decided to kill my mother. In my seven-year-old mind it was my only way out of this hell I was stuck in. I waited until everyone was asleep and I picked the lock on my isolated room and got the biggest knife out of the kitchen drawer and went straight for her room. My sister stopped me in the dark and changed my mind. By the way, my siblings were not subjected to the same abuse.   My mother frequently took me to mental institutions.  I spent years living in them. I was kept drugged and alone. In these homes I was also abused and tortured. Just about all of the children in these homes suffered at the hands of our caregivers.

My dad was a different kind of evil. I still have a seizure disorder today from the many beatings he gave me and from all the times he rammed my head into the wall, side of the car etc. One morning he beat me so severe that I was unconscious for an hour.  When I came to he acted as if this was a normal thing and took me to school.

When I arrived in my class the teacher saw my black and blue body and asked me what happened. I told her and CPS was called. They undressed me and took pictures.  Because my dad was a police officer in that town no one came to my recue.   I went from mental institutions to a state school until I aged out at seventeen. I never knew the love of a mom or a dad or what it was like to have someone hold or nurture me.

As you can imagine, I had become a young man full of anger.   It was then that I decided to show my parents up. I told myself I wanted to be the biggest toughest man living. I wanted to be known for something. So I turned to crime and sold illegal guns for profit.  Lots of profit! I told myself one day my parents will see me and feel afraid of me like I did them.

But I got caught. I was sentenced to 99 years in a Texas prison but a series of miraculous events got me out in five years. While in prison, I thought a lot about where I had been and where I was going and decided I wanted my life to count.  In short, I began my journey of becoming a new man fifteen years ago.

After I was released, I visited my mother to extend my hand of forgiveness. She would have no part of that or me.

Not long after that disappointing visit she died. Reconciliation with my father has not been successful either. He is still a police officer today and does not want the community to know of his past deeds.

I have shared this information from my past so that you understand my motivation for saving children today. I travel across the country going anywhere I can to help save a child, encourage one in need, or give hope to those in youth correctional facilities, because I know how they feel.

Child abuse and not feeling wanted is its own special hell. The emptiness and despair are very heavy garments to wear.   I need help spreading the message of hope to those caught in this place of despair.  They need to know they can survive, life will get better, there are good people in this world and they do matter.

But whatever it takes, I will spend everyday of my life telling my story of learning to live and love so that one child may be saved.   Thank you for reading my story.

Sincerely, John Borgstedt

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