My fingers hover over the keys as I ponder how much to reveal, how much to say about what happened to me and how I, in turn, ended up. This is my blog, yes, but it's far from being an anonymous one. My face is on some of my videos. My students stalk me. My children may one day find this. And that last reason is all the more reason not to stay silent. Because silence kills. Silence destroys the soul; it eats at the mind driving a person to drink or to snort or to dive off buildings seeking a high, an alternative that would make all the memories temporarily suspend in time, almost as if to disintegrate along the trail of yesterday.
My high was sex. It always comes back to that. Sex. That's where it started. Sex.
My uncle's girlfriend's son was slightly older than my approximate age of 7 (maybe 8) and was always leading me into a game of house, a game that would result in his hands on my body, his lips on my lips, his spit filling up my mouth (your look of repulsion would hardly match the one plastered to my face as I type this). He was so light-skinned, my child's mind considered him white and conjectured that all white men must kiss nasty. One day, he thought to take the game of house all the way to the next level. I don't remember what I was thinking; I only remember that I was flat on my back and he was over me, poised to enter, when my uncle opened the door. I remember my uncle freezing as he took in the scene. I remember getting up off the floor. I remember nothing from that point forward but I'm pretty sure that what transpired between my uncle and this "cousin" had to be labeled child abuse.
I never told anyone about that, not until a relative of mine and I were one day talking and she told me what she, herself, experienced at our "cousin's" hand. She'd never told anyone either but she displayed some of the classic symptoms and still kinda does to this day, as do I, as well as a whole host of other people, including celebrities.
There are dozens upon dozens of celebrities who have been singed, burned, or consumed by their history as a victim of sexual abuse. Below are a short list of celebrities and prominent people who have come out in the news about this skeleton in the closet. Each highlighted name links to their respective news story.
Teri Hatcher, actor, abused by her uncle.
Sugar Ray Leonard, boxer, abused by his coach at 15.
Todd Bridges, actor, abused by a family friend.
Roseanne Bar, comedienne, abused by her father-- among other things.
Mickey Mantle, baseball player, abused by his half-sister and a number of other people, female and male.
Carlos Santana, musician, abused at 10.
Senator Scott Brown, politician, abused by a camp counselor.
Mary J. Blige, singer, abused by a family friend at 5.
Rhonda Begos, Milwaukee Bucks's House Band singer, abused at 10.
Chester Bennington, Linkin Park singer, abused as a youth by an older man.
Vanessa Williams, actor/singer, abused at 10 by an older female.
Tyler Perry, director, abused at 5/6 by an adult male neighbor and, later, other men and a woman.
Mo'Nique and her brother (who's also her abuser), actor/comedienne, age 7.
Bai Ling, actor, abused as a teen by Chinese army officers.
Laveraneus Coles, NFL player, abused by his step-father.
Tori Amos, singer and founder of RAINN (the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network), raped at knife-pointed by a repeat offender and murderer.
Oprah, a victim/survivor herself (raped by a relative at 9), brought over 200 men, who had been sexually abused as children, together for a show one November and here are a few stories from those men. You can also watch the full show here on her website.
And it's not just happening here in America; it's happening across the pond too as pointed out by this article in the Huffington Post UK.
Child's Revealed Abuse Symptoms & Signs
One day, last week, I was looking at a few clips on ABC's The Revolution (a life-changing show with a weight-loss component to it, a show I had been in the serious running for back in November 2011-- alas, I was sent home before boot camp. Sad face) when I came upon the clip below. This clip features Casey Jordan, a criminologist, going over some of the signs to watch for in a child who has been abused. One particular phrase stood out: "...gaining a lot of weight and trying to, especially with young women, make themselves as unattractive as possible, baggy clothes, invisible, they want to disappear, they don't want anyone to notice them or see them as somebody who could be attractive or a sexual object. That's a big clue too."
And that's just what I did after later getting raped by another "cousin" at 16; I hid behind a layer of fat, wearing baggy unflattering clothes, not caring about my hair, often leaving it unkempt. I hung out with the guys so I could be just one of the boys and not one of the girls they would wolf-whistle to. But, as I found out, the fat suit didn't detract my suitors, it only encouraged them to seek me out for clandestine meetings. I went from being a sex object to a sex secret. And I allowed it to happen. I gave in to what I thought was inevitable. I couldn't disappear; they still saw me. So what I created as protection became my prison; my fat suit only made me invisible during the day and all-the-more visible as a target during the night. So I took control-- I said who, where, and when. No longer would I be the victim. But I was still as emotionless a participant as the day my womb was pillaged and planted.
Can Remove All the Shame & Sorrow
Now, sex is just the way I coped with the fallout from my sexual victimization. Other people cope in many different ways. As you may have read in the linked celebrity stories, many of them handled the demon that lived in their closet with drinking, drugs, and other destructive behaviors. Luckily, I never turned to drugs or alcohol but there was something just as potent, sex. However, there is something more powerful than that, grace-- more specifically, God. Now I'm not trying to push off my religion on you; I'm just sharing how I make it through, how I forgive myself for my past because, at the end of the day, we survivors can only be called survivors when we learn to forgive ourselves, to free ourselves from guilt or shame.
Some of you may have suppressed the memory of your abuse but it's permeating your way of life and your relationships. You're angry at the world or just yourself. You can't say no. You keep saying no. You're depressed. You're emotionless. You're victimizing. You're a victim. No matter what you're feeling, staying quiet is not the way to handle this. This system of silence is what keeps the abuse going, it's what gives sexual abuse the permission to exist. But I'm breaking the silence. Will you?