Homam Almahdi grew up in a Syrian-American family in West Los Angeles, the oldest of four children. Bookish and sensitive, he worked hard in school, and went to mosque. All the time, he kept a secret from the world: when he was 8, he says he was sexually abused by a family friend, another Muslim.
"Growing up, I kind of believed that sexual violence was, just in general, a Western concept, like it doesn't happen to people who are Muslim," Almahdi says. "If you are spiritual enough, God will protect you from evil."