Forrest’s Story

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Forrest Lang is a father, military veteran, tattoo artist, author, and survivor of child sexual abuse (CSA). His story is one of surviving homelessness, sexual abuse by a family member, and sexual violence within the foster care system.

When Forrest Lang was 12 years old, he was taken out of his biological family's house after suffering years of abuse and placed in a foster home. There, his foster mother molested him until he was 16 years old.

"She tried to kill me in a murder-suicide,” Forest recounted to RAINN. “And then I lived on the street, homeless.”

Forrest joined the military at 18 as a Navy Corpsman. At a military-run spiritual growth retreat he attended, two years into his service, he shared his story for the first time.

"We were sitting in a circle, and people were encouraged to share traumatic experiences,” he said. “The chaplains told us to raise our hands if the same happened. Someone said they got molested, and I raised my hand. They asked if we were beaten up, and I raised my hand. Abandoned, I raised my hand. Starved, I raised my hand. In foster care, I raised my hand. My friend Maryam was with me, putting her hand on my shoulder every time I raised my hand.

“At the break, a staff member pulled me aside and asked, 'Do you need attention that bad? These people are trying to heal, and no one has had that much stuff happen to them.' I told my friend Maryam about what the staff member had said. She went straight to the staff member, screamed at her, and stood up for me. No one had ever stood up for me like that before. It was a massive milestone in my recovery."

Forrest was deployed to Iraq in 2004 with Lima Company 3/24 as a line Corpsman (combat medic), where he started tattooing. After he received an honorable discharge, he pursued a career as a tattoo artist and tried to move on from his past.

In 2016, while attempting to apply for a passport for an adventure to Iceland, Forrest contacted New York's Department of Public Health for a new birth certificate. There, he faced a startling truth: no record of a “Forrest Lang” existed. Forest said he realized had been adopted by a pedophile foster parent who sought to evade the reach of Child Protective Services. This understanding reignited memories he wished to outlive—haunting memories from a buried past of rape, starvation, poverty, and abuse.

Shaken to his very foundation, Forrest recognized the need for professional help.

“I called the National Sexual Assault Hotline that I found on RAINN's website,” he said. “I don't remember the conversation, but I do remember how I felt. It was obvious that they believed me; the person on the Hotline had empathy and saw me. It was very helpful, and I felt heard. I was not alone."

For the next five years, Forrest began to write. During that time, he completed a transformative memoir, “Angel of Blue, A Song of Redemption,” chronicling his journey of strength and hope from being a homeless foster child to finding redemption in Iraq.

As Forrest continued sharing his story through writing and in retreats, he was invited to share it with 1,000 service members. Forrest reflected on this speaking opportunity and said, "I was filled with purpose, humility, terror, and determination. The audience gave me a standing ovation, and a service member reached out to me via social media, stating that they were thinking of attempting suicide and thought they were the only one who had experienced significant childhood sexual trauma. They told me that the talk had changed their life."

When Forrest departed from the service, he began to explore a path toward post-traumatic growth, recovery, and sobriety.

"Post-traumatic growth looks like getting up, brushing my teeth, showering, going to the doctor, exercising, having a hobby, and practicing self-love,” said Forrest. “It also looks like staying sober, serving others, studying, listening to podcasts or reading inspirational literature, contributing money to a cause `I support, and practicing acknowledgment of my puppy, people in my life, or even my career. Gratitude is a superpower. I also practice prayer and affirmations; I believe every word I speak is a powerful prayer and that my body and life will follow what comes out of my mouth."

What Forrest finds most helpful in his healing journey includes, “openness to learning about trauma recovery, patience, exploring meditation, maintaining sobriety, relentlessly never giving up, discovering the courage to feel what lies beneath anger, self-care, forming a community, setting boundaries, therapy, pursuing dreams, and allowing myself the room to heal."

Forrest's message to survivors is clear: "I hear you. I see you. I believe you. It did happen. It really was that bad. You are not alone."