BT Urruela, an Iraq war veteran and Purple Heart recipient, shared something deeply personal with his fans on Facebook on Friday night.
“Between the ages of four and eight, I was sexually abused by a family member,” he writes. “I don’t remember all of it, but I remember more than enough. After being removed from that home I was sent to live with my mom and step dad. There, I went through physical and emotional abuse until I was old enough not to take it anymore.”
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Urruela appeared on the reality dating show “Coupled” this year, where he hoped he could share his story to help others going through the same thing.
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“Though I opened up about everything hoping to help others going through similar thing, the show I was on won’t allow me to tell my story. I mean, it’s reality dating after all.”
There’s an important reason he shares all of this:
Because I’m done being ashamed of something I had no control over.
Because I love who I am and the journey that led me here.
Because I believe we are all more one than we even realize.
The story his evolution is now documented on his arm with his new tattoos. He explained them in his Facebook post.
The three roses represent what I consider the three stages of my life thus far. On the wrist, the rose is dead and wilted, signifying my abusive childhood, and my feelings of inadequacy because of it. On my upper forearm, the rose is mid bloom, signifying my rebirth through the army and my first chance at actually enjoying life. And on my tricep, there is a rose full bloom, signifying my life as it is now; happy, healthy, and prosperous. I am the me I was always meant to be and I’ll never forget the journey it took to get here
The Purple Heart recipient was badly wounded when his Humvee was hit by two IEDs two days before he was planned to leave Iraq. The explosives tore through the right side of the vehicle, killing his commander and leaving Urruela and three of his fellow soldiers badly wounded.
He tried for two years to recover his leg, but ultimately had it amputated.
“It was the only surgery I ever left with a smile on my face, as if a weight had been lifted,” he said.
Urruela was honored at the Rare Under 40 awards earlier this year for his work with VETSports, an organization that aims to help transition veterans to civilian life.