Antonio Salazar-Hobson is a Chicano author whose latest novel is about his own story as a survivor of horrifying abuse. This memoir is titled Antonio, We Know You: A Memoir. In a recent article posted by Newsweek called ‘I Was Kidnapped by My Neighbors When I was Four Years Old,’ Antonio goes into personal detail about the trauma he suffered when he was taken by his kidnappers, John and Sara Hobson. He notes that the Hobsons “groomed my family and cultivated their trust, meaning my parents allowed me to stay overnight, even after the Hobsons moved to the rural outskirts of Phoenix (Salazar-Hobson 2022).”
Antonio’s Early Life
The cruelty of his kidnappers didn’t always overtake Antonio’s life. His “early memories are filled with my mother Petra’s love and affection” and he states “I credit the early love from her and my siblings as a source of strength that allowed me to survive my ordeal (Salazar-Hobson 2022).” It was during the time when the Hobsons were still just the friendly neighbors when Antonio was drugged and sexually abused by them. When his parents caught on to what was happening, they cut off all contact with the Hobsons. They would strike back by kidnapping four-year-old Antonio right in front of his siblings five weeks later.
The Effect of White Abusers on a Chicano Child and Family
For the next 24 years, Antonio would have no contact with his family. The Hobsons would put him through various types of torment that would push him close to his breaking point. To keep up appearances, the Hobsons enrolled Antonio into school and presented themselves as his adopted parents. He decided to stay with the Hobsons until he went off to college. While attending law school “I hired a private investigator to locate my family. They were successful and in June 1983, two days after my graduation, we set up a meeting (Salazar-Hobson 2022).”
Antonio wasn’t the only one who suffered greatly from his abduction. When he went missing, his parents split up with his mom taking custody of half the kids and his dad taking custody of the other half. It wasn’t until he found them again many years later that they’d all get back together. Antonio has been back in their lives for over 40 years.
Antonio’s Situation Isn’t Unique
Unfortunately, situations similar to Antonio’s kidnapping aren’t uncommon especially with children of color. If a child is white, the police immediately spring into action to find them. If they’re dark skinned, not as much effort is put into the search and they even get overlooked in the media. It’s very telling that “John and Sara Hobson were never located or even interviewed, living their lives with impunity (Salazar-Hobson 2022).” This issue is what allowed cases like Antonio’s to occur consistently.
These atrocities committed against children of color are gaining notice. “The recent national media coverage of the Epstein-Maxwell and R. Kelly trials and convictions gave attention and even hope” to these types of situations (Salazar-Hobson 2022). Even so, a genuine improvement hasn’t occurred.
Coming forward and revealing his trauma to the world isn’t an easy thing for Antonio to do. Yet, he did so because it’s extremely relevant for other children of color who suffered in similar ways. Progress is happening with the publishing of Antonio’s story.