Since the debut of Surviving R. Kelly and Finding Neverland, I have felt compelled to share my thoughts. I have been torn about writing this post because I wasn’t sure how to tackle it or what angle I should take. Then it dawned on me that I wasn’t going to waste my time defending or casting blame on these alleged predators. However, I wanted to make an earnest plea to parents, grandparents and guardians of children which is, BELIEVE YOUR KIDS!
Child sexual abuse statistics show that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys are victims of child sexual abuse. I shudder to think what the actual numbers would look like if all cases of abuse were reported. I can’t speak for all cultures but the black community is notorious for sweeping issues under the rug. I am reminded of statements like “what goes on in this house, stays in this house.” These familial antidotes only tend to leave us battered and bruised never to address the true affliction that destroys us emotionally, mentally, and in some instances physically.
If you read my blog post entitled “Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself” I state that molestation was not the cause of me being gay. I showed interest in boys before the experience I am about to share with you.
I can’t recall my exact age but if I had to guess I would say 8 or 9. I remember being in my grandmother’s house. My grandmother was in her usual spot in the living room on the phone with one of friends with a cigarette burning in her yellow ashtray. The smoked always tend to linger for a long period of time when she smoked. I was in the back room with one of my “pseudo cousins.” My grandmother was good for taking in other people and their children and claiming them as her own. Therefore, this person wasn’t related by blood. This cousin and I were in the backroom sitting on the bed. Now that I am thinking about it, I am not certain as to why we were in this room because there was no TV or video games back there. At this age, that is all that really interested me. However, this cousin who was 8 years older than me fondled me inappropriately. In that instant, I knew something wasn’t right. It didn’t feel good. I didn’t want it and this cousin was somewhat ugly so I knew I didn’t want to be touched by her.
It’s funny how things you learn in school come back to your remembrance. In elementary school we were taught what to do in situations such as this. More than anything, the teacher always harped on the importance of telling someone. Therefore, I got up, went straight to my grandma and said “Mama so and so touched me.” Without of a blink of an eye, or taking the phone receiver from her ear she replied “boy shut up and go play.” As I am writing this, I can be kind and give my grandmother the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she assumed when I said “touch” it was something innocent like horse playing and I was coming in to tattle. In this same breath, I can also argue that my grandma should have known that I would not come to her with idle tattle because that was automatic grounds for me picking my switch from the tree outside which of course resulted in a whuppin! Because I knew that, and she was well aware of it along with my fear of whuppins, she should have taken my claims more seriously.
My grandmother never uttered another word about it and to my knowledge she never addressed the person I accused nor did she tell my mother. I was left to be around this person continually. Now thank God nothing more happened between this person and me. However, many children can’t say the same. This instance forever changed the way I looked at my grandmother which resulted in our relationship not being as strong as it could have been because I couldn’t trust her. Looking back on it, it could have been the reason why I rely on suppressing my feelings and internalizing things. Lord that’s another blog post.
When a child is unable to trust the very person that is suppose to love and keep them safe from all manner of harm or danger, it can leave them hurt and voiceless. Once this trust is gone, its hard to get it back. In a child’s mind they may feel “well you didn’t believe me when I said this", why should I try and tell you anything else.” Parents don’t dismiss your children’s claims. If they tell you something has happened to them, please listen. Investigate. Question the accuser and be diligent. Please don’t discount it as your child is “just talking” or “making stuff up.” Kids don’t have a reason to lie especially about something this critical.
It baffles me when people beat up on victims and shout things like “well why didn’t they say something before, why are they saying something years later.” In all honesty these can be valid questions but lets consider some things. Trauma does’t have an expiration date. All people that delay divulging their trauma aren’t out for money, fame or infamy. Could it be that they don’t know what trust looks like because they have not experienced a relationship built on that key element? Is it feasible that any shred of doubt could cause them to be silent and tuck the pain and shame away? Is it possible this doubt is what perpetuated their lack of trust in others and poor communications skills personally and professionally?
I feel a little churchy now so indulge me for a moment. I’m reminded of the story of Jesus walking on water. Peter didn’t know he could walk on water until he saw Jesus do it. Jesus was like “c’mon my dude you got this." Peter’s faith propelled him onto the water as well. Then Peter realized what was happening and was like “nah dawg, I ain’t got it like you J.” So it was Peter’s fear that caused him to sink. Some of you may read this and say, what is Uncle Chris trying to say as it relates to the question of “why don’t alleged victims speak up sooner.” This is my perspective…sometimes seeing someone else walk in courage releases a sense of drive and faith to others. I believe at times it takes watching someone else getting delivered or speaking their truth for a person to realize they can do the same. Not only do the same but be heard! And not only be heard but get free! And when child abuse victims dare to tell their truth but their fear becomes overwhelming they need a Jesus in their life to come and rescue them as he did for Peter when he began to sink. We should all be readily available to save our brothers and sisters in the face adversity instead of giving them the side eye upon hearing their experience.