- Posted August 25, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
Part 2 of Stand Against Child Sexual Abuse Within The African American Community!
When I first set out on this journey to discuss my experiences with child sexual abuse I knew it would cause family to posture and take sides. In fact growing up in the family I did, petty and rather infantile reactions to serious problems are what I came to think was normal – until I moved away. However, this is my time not to focus on other people, this is the time to focus on my experiences in order to heal. As a consequence, if it should be described that way, I hope to help other people like me obtain the courage to publically REBUKE the cycle of abuse and its many forms. I knew my words resonated on some level when my mother called me one day and said she felt like the worst mother in the world because she had no idea that all of that was going on. I told her not to feel that way. She was dealing with a lot herself. Yes, I perhaps let her off of the hook, but, I wanted her to know that my focus is not her, or even the people I spoke about in my first video. The focus is to bring awareness to an issue, while hopefully provoking a very important discussion.
My dad is not perfect, but one thing that stuck with me was something he said when I was about 12 or 13 in response to the way my cousins treated me. See, he knew that they would sometimes pick fights with me and hit me in my ribs, stomach, and chest. They called it toughening me up. He said:
Son, there are people in your family that hate you just because you have opportunities that they don’t have. He also said that they tease you and fight you because you speak well, you dress respectful, and you are going to make something of your life.
I never really understood what he was telling me, but these days his words ring in my mind like a church bell.
My entire family seems to be one big fat ball of dysfunction. Some of the earliest memories are when I was young and my mother took me to a fair in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Unbeknownst to us, my father was there with my sister and her mother. My mother simply spoke to my sister while I was on a ride. All of a sudden, according to my mother, “Don’t you speak to my daughter bitch,” came from my fathers mouth and his fist across my mothers face. When I got off of the ride I came back to a crying mother with a black eye. My mother didn’t tell me right away what happened. All I remember is that my mother was swarmed by friends and taken to her car. But I saw the black eye later. Of course my mother went back to him over and over again. That is another set of stories for another day. However, it was like clockwork, things were going well in one moment and then one day I found myself accepting blows from my dad in an attempt to stop him and her from almost killing one another. But I don’t readily blame my dad for how he managed stress. There were generational things that made him who he was. I know he feels bad for his past and he owns his mistakes. But there is one thing I can say about him: He would’ve died if he knew what was going on right under his nose.
In the middle of that hell, I was dealing with sexual abuse while trying to plan my life and what I wanted it to be. Boy was I confused at points in my life; yet, I knew that I didn’t want any part of the life that was given to me. I wanted to focus on the parts of my family and life that made accomplishments and an impact on society. But no matter how hard I try, it seems I can’t totally get them out of my life without first facing their demons that they made mine.
As if the first stories of sexual abuse wasn’t enough. I now reflect on a moment when I was about 16 or so, living in the Summit Hills apartments in Silver Spring, Maryland. A male cousin of mine came to visit. Not thinking anything of it I told him he could sleep in my bed. Yes, I told him that. I would have NEVER in a million years expected him to do what happened next. This younger male cousin after I was asleep reached and started touching my private area. I remember jumping up, slapped his hand away, slapped him on the head and asked him, “Where did you learn that CRAP?” I asked if it was one or both of those older cousins that had been abusing the rest of us? This younger male cousin answered, “No.” But I knew he was lying. I remember being so MAD at what he had done I called one of my closest cousins, my father’s sister’s son, and asked him if he knew about his behavior. My father’s sister’s son said, “Yes,” and that he was a lying little perverted kid. I responded that he must have learned that from those two older cousins and that what he tried to do was sick. I told this younger cousin that I would never tell on him. But that what he did was wrong. I never spoke to that younger cousin again. And to this day I refuse to talk to him. He saw me years later at the Warf in Washington, DC and avoided me as if I did something to him. Boy is that screwed up.
See, the cycle of abuse doesn’t end unless someone takes a stand. That’s what I am doing. I knew early on there would be backlash once I developed this courage. For example, years ago at my grandmothers funeral, long before I spoke out, one of the female cousins that was involved in this sick cycle of abuse told her mother that I had raped her. I’m not sure why she said that. Or where the idea that RAPE even occurred. Especially because we were all victims and influenced by our older cousins. This cousin’s mother yelled this in the middle of the church’s hall. However, I stood strong and told them that no she/they had it all wrong. I talked to this cousin one-on-one and said accusing me of rape when we were all doing things that we shouldn’t have been doing when we were kids under the influence of two older cousins was not fair. I should also mention that when my female cousins mother did that guess which cousins got up and ran out of the church, never to be seen again? Yes, the same cousins that raped or sexually abused/influenced my sister, my cousins and myself. Cowards! Convinced us or at least me that my father didn’t really love me and said that my mother is just too emotional to understand. In other words, create hell and run away from it.
To this day my cousins mother blames me for the environment that her family fostered. They were all too busy in their own lives to keep an eye on all of us and protect us from the influence of two older and perverted cousins. But if it makes her feel better to blame me…fine. However, it won’t change the fact that her entire family is SICK and that Jesus alone will not solve their issues. We have to get up and take a stand.
So as I’ve said before, I lived it! America needs to pull together and bring awareness to this silent epidemic. We could drastically lower the percentages of anti-social behavior that is acted out in violence, drugs, and repeat sexual abuse within the African American community. Urge Congress to form a taskforce and explore ways to combat Child Sexual Abuse within the African American community, especially among its male population. We need to change “Nobody needs to know,” into “everyone knows and this will stop, NOW.”