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San Diego author's new memoir describes a life violently altered, but 'Not Broken'

Jesse Leon, author of the memoir, "I'm Not Broken" in an undated photo.
Courtesy of Jesse Leon
Jesse Leon, author of the memoir "I'm Not Broken," in an undated photo.

Born to indigenous working class Mexican immigrants in San Diego in the 1970s, Jesse Leon’s childhood was violently altered when he was 11 years old.

In his new memoir "I'm Not Broken," Leon said that before being violently sexually assaulted he was a nerdy kid who loved to learn.

"I was just an 11-year-old kid who wanted to read National Geographic magazines," Leon said. "I would have a dictionary next to me in case I didn't understand a word in an encyclopedia."


Leon said the molestation lasted for years and led to drug addiction and sex trafficking.

At his lowest point he described being 18 years old, sleeping under a bush in Balboa Park and having sex with random men to support his drug habit.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can reach The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling or texting 988 for support, information and resources.

"I remember I was cleaning some leaves under a bush so I could rest my head and stop the noise in my head of just telling me to kill myself," Leon said.

Now 29 years sober, he is a social impact consultant with degrees from UC Berkeley and Harvard University.

Leon shared his story of resilience Tuesday on Midday Edition.


"I'm Not Broken" is being published August 23.