At the age of five, Antuan Barefield was abused by his mother’s boyfriend.
“She didn’t know it was going on,” said Barefield. “He did a good job at hiding it.”
Once she found out, she left her boyfriend, but it changed the way Barefield acted.
“I couldn’t be around anybody,” he said. He went to pre-school and had trouble interacting with students and teachers. “I was lashing out at teachers, lashing out at other kids and this was just pre-school, kinder-care.”
“What I remember is the first time that I met him, he was an angry, angry little boy, and I was trying to warm him up, so we could do some work together, and I was getting ‘no, yes, I don’t know’,” said Nancy Crago with the Family Service Guidance Center.
That’s when Crago bought a basketball hoop for her office at the Family Service and Guidance Center.
“It was sneaky because it got me to talk about so much that I was not talking about, if she was just sitting here talking to me face to face I was just talking, I probably wasn’t shutting up honestly because I was having so much fun with her, doing something I love,” said Barefield.
When kids have been abused, therapists try to make them feel in power, something Antuan realized Crago had done during this interview.
Every time they were together she wore the wrong shoes on purpose.
Something a young Antuan would always call her out for. But that’s exactly why Nancy was doing it.
“By wearing the wrong shoes I gave him an elevated position over me; he was the basketball expert, and he was teaching me and that’s what elevates them to help them not feel like a victim anymore,” said Crago.
When Antuan was 10 he graduated from Crago’s office. He knew then he needed to help others when he grew up.
Now Barefield works at Kansas City’s VA as a medical support assistant specializing in mental health.
When he sees Nancy, even at 30-years-old, he’s still poking fun at her choice in shoes because the growing never ends.