Tallahassee Police officer helping others to move forward from abuse

Published: May. 3, 2018 at 12:35 PM EDT
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By: Julie Montanaro | WCTV Eyewitness News

May 3, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Police officers often show up on the worst day of your life. They did for Sean Wyman too.

The Tallahassee Police officer says he was beaten as a child, thrust into foster care and had been running from those memories ever since.

Now, he's stopped running and he's hoping his story can help others turn their fear into fuel for a new life.

"I've been a police officer for over 18 years and I've known I wanted to be a police officer since I was 14,15 years old," Wyman said. "A lot of people unfortunately look at the uniform and look at the badge, but they don't look at the human being behind it.

"That's unfortunate because there's a lot of great people out here that serve and do this job and have been through rough times," he continued.

Wyman is not just a TPD officer but a former Army Ranger. He's a happily married father of two living out his lifelong dream.

"You want to live a normal life but at the same time, you're hiding something so...you're always wondering, what if somebody finds out all these things that happened to me," Wyman said.

Wyman says as a child, he was regularly beaten.

"I got hit with everything you could imagine. Anything within reach was fair play," Wyman said.

He repeatedly ran away from home.

"I got beaten to the point that I couldn't move for an entire week and when that happened, I got so angry and so fed up with all the beatings I actually thought about killing my stepfather," Wyman recalled.

That was the moment that forever changed Wyman's life. He ran away again, a ten year old surviving on the streets of Washington, D.C. On day three, a police officer found him sleeping in a hotel lobby.

"He was the one who called my mom that day and said, 'Hey, great news we found your son' and of course, that was the day my mom said he can't come home anymore...and started my life into foster care and group homes," he said.

That's where Wyman spent the next eight years, from the age of 10 to 18.

Wyman says it took him nearly 30 years to come to grips with what happened.

"In the early '80's it wasn't called abuse, excessive discipline maybe," Wyman said as he shared his story with social workers at a recent conference on Trauma Informed Care.

"Anxiety, yes. Fight or flight, absolutely," he continued.

Wyman is now sharing his experiences in hopes of inspiring others to change the trajectory of their lives.

"I want the biggest message to be, 'Don't give up,' Wyman said afterward.

Special education teacher Bronwyn McCreary was in the audience that day.

"When I heard his message, I was like 'Wow, there's stuff I could actually do,'" McCreary said.

She has since invited Wyman to talk to her students at Heritage Trails about overcoming trauma. Some of them have experienced it too.

"It's just motivational to see somebody come out the other side, own their story. Not to hide it, but to own it and share it in a way that brings hope and healing," McCreary said.

"If I was ever going to be who I was truly meant to be, I needed to let go. I needed to deal with my past and face it and then truly let go of it so I could move forward from my life," Wyman said.

Wyman recently wrote a book about his experiences and the steps he took to change his life. "Let Go: The Movement" encourages other abuse survivors to take stock and take action.

"No matter what you're going through, I understand it may seem impossible, but with the right movement anything is possible," Wyman said. "It starts with a mindset shift. Focus on what you can control. Your past is your past."

"The thing you fear most has no power. Your fear of it has the power. Facing the truth will really set you free," is one of Wyman's favorite quotes, courtesy of Oprah Winfrey.

"I hope there's always that one person that he touches and changes their life for the better," his wife Lynn Wyman said.

Sean Wyman says his experiences have changed the way he polices and deals with even the angriest of encounters.

"What happened to you that caused you to go down this road that has led to you and I having this encounter today?" Wyman asks from behind the wheel of his patrol car.

All of it harkening back to the officers he remembered as a child. Officers checking up on him, making sure he was okay and staying out of trouble.

"The best part has been being on patrol and being able to help people in traumatic situations," Wyman said, "Which is truly what I want to do is help other people to find their way out of their problems and their situations, like I was blessed to do."