NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Former major league pitcher, R.A. Dickey, is known for his knuckleball, his 21 year baseball career, winning the Cy Young award and even an Olympic medal. To the outsider, he had it all.
“I was really good at hiding, and keeping it at arms length, and not really doing deep relationships with anybody. So, that was my life for a really, really long time,” said Dickey.
He said he was hiding from trauma he never shared with anyone: He was sexually abused as a child.
“When it first occurred, I was 8-years-old and at the hands of a babysitter. That went on for a number of months and then an independent situation with a stranger.”
It wasn’t until Dickey said he found himself in a very dark place that things changed, and he found his purpose.
“(I was) thinking this world is better off without me. Just shame bound and thinking that I was a failure at my marriage, at my career, as a father,” said Dickey. But something stopped him. “I just felt this overwhelming emotion that God had something planned for me, so I didn’t go through with it.”
Instead, Dickey channeled his pain into helping others going through similar circumstances like sexual trauma and human trafficking.
His first step into that world was in India where he helped build an organization called “The Bombay Teen Challenge,” but he was eventually pulled home to Middle Tennessee.
“When I got back here, and after I retired in 2017, I had a real conviction that God was saying that ‘hey man, look, yes, this is going on, but you are going to have a lot of time here, and there’s a lot of stuff going on in your own back yard, and I want you to be aware of it,'” remembered Dickey.
Once back home, Dickey became involved with the Nashville Anti Human Trafficking Coalition, rescuing girls as young as 3-years-old and as old as 60-years-old.
“This is going on right under our nose in every zip code in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m not kidding you when I say we have rescued 14-year-old girls from the middle of Belle Meade. It’s prevalent in every area code.”
These days, Dickey is thriving with his new mission in life. He said he knows the pain he felt so long ago lead him to the peace and dedication he has today.
“It’s emotional. It’s special,” said Dickey. “Knowing that that was me, that was me a long time ago. I didn’t know there were so many people around me who loved me. I needed someone to help me see that because I was unable to because of my trauma, and that’s where they are.”
If you or someone you know needs help, the Nashville Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition can help. More information is available on their website here. And if you are interested in volunteering with NAHT, click here.
If you suspect someone is being trafficked, then you can call the Tennessee Human Trafficking hotline at (855) 558-6484.