Victor’s Speech: Back on My Feet Gala in Baltimore
NOVEMBER 15, 2019
First of all, I would like to welcome everyone and say thank you very much for attending. My name is Victor Jose Primera. I am 51 years-old and I was born and raised in Baltimore Maryland with roots in Venezuela and Columbia. I am also an alumnus of Back on My Feet—Team CP!
I went through a lot of pain and abuse as a child – abduction, forced prostitution and sexual abuse all before the age of 12, not on the streets of streets of South America, but just around the corner from here – Mt Vernon, Charles St. & Preston St. I grew up feeling insecure, self-conscious, and untrusting of others. I can’t say that years of trauma made me feel less of a man, because I wasn’t even a man yet. I turned to drugs and alcohol to escape from reality because I couldn’t understand why I went through so much abuse as a child. By the time I was 10 years old I was smoking marijuana daily. At 12 I started sniffing cocaine, and at 13 I became an intravenous drug user. At 14 years old I had my very first heroin overdose.
My addiction led me to the criminal justice system where I have spent 20 cumulative years of my life behind bars. Every time I was released, I always returned to old friends and old behaviors because it was all I knew. It was never more than 6 months before I got locked up again.
I kept close to a 100% attendance and participated as much as possible. When I do something, I do it 100% or not at all. I believe a job doesn’t get done unless you do it fully. Back on My Feet Staff and volunteers motivated me to get up every MWF at 5:30AM to walk, jog or run 2,3 or 4 miles each day—if they could be there for me, then I could be there for them. I remember I even showed up on Christmas morning, I came outside to a small circle of three people, including me. I was committed and I was there.
Where I am at today, I am reliable, dependable, and responsible. I have been clean and sober since 4/29/2014, the longest I have ever been clean (pause for the awesome applause). I have also tried to use what has happened to me to help others.
I want to be a giver and not just a taker any more in my life. Being in prison, you always hear about what you think society owes you. I don’t want to keep taking from society. I want to contribute to the community and to people in need. I want to pay my bills, be a taxpayer.
This past February 2018 I was invited to speak in front of the state senate committee to encourage more funding for homeless services. I was given the opportunity to share my story to advocate for those experiencing homelessness. As intimidating as it was, I hope that my experience can give strength to others. I
Also, I just got recently married to a very beautiful woman on September 25, and she makes me a very happy man. She completes my life fully. Instead of living behind bars, I am a married man living in my own apartment with my bride in Falls Church, VA. My goals now are to stay clean and sober, continue working, stay a loyal husband.
My life has changed so much since I was that small, scared kid, just trying to survive on the streets of Baltimore. Back on My Feet has been a big contributing factor in my life changing process. I am going to keep striving for bigger and better things (one step at a time) and have a peace and serenity in my life. Once again thank you all for attending tonight and thank you for supporting Back on My Feet. Enjoy tonight.