What prompted this rant was a news report of another powerful person accused of having a sexual encounter with a teenage girl. Now the details are sketchy, but in a nutshell; Congressman Wu of California is accused of having a "Sexual Encounter" with a girl who graduated from high school last year and does have a voter registration card. So she is at least 18 maybe even 19 years old and he is 56. There is apparently a recorded phone conversation with this girl after the,"Sexual Encounter" and what she is describing appears to be rape, reports say. Neither she nor her family has commented on the case. The Congressman says, it was, "Consensual." But why does a 56 year old think it's ok to have sex with a 18-19 and apparently he is a friend of the family. *Blank Stare* With friends like that, who needs enemies.
As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and in the aftermath of years of therapy, I understand the core of this issue. I also understand how it alters a persons life. The sad thing is, some survivors never even understand the damage, they just go through life living without boundaries, thinking what is abnormal is normal behavior. That was me for years, going through life doing more damage to myself, because of the damage done early in life. While other survivors numb their pain with drugs, alcohol and other forms of destructive behavior. Either way, make no mistake, there is damage to the victim.
Let me try to unpack one of my childhood rapes. For me, this experience is somewhat reminiscent of both the Eddie Long and R. Kelly cases which I will be dealing with in this blog post.
He started molesting me slowly and over time earning my trust and locking me into the sickness. At first, a hand on my thigh that eventually made it's way to my clit; And I don't care who touches the clit, unless they are beating you up side your head, it feels good. So I had no reason to be alarmed. And in time, he progressed from rubbing my clit over my panties to moving my panties to the side. It was our "Special Relationship" and I loved him. And I cherished the time spent with my big brother showering me love.
Then one day he met me at home on my lunch break. I was the only child that came home because I was given the task of feeding a boarder my mother took in that was old and immobile. Too much responsibility for a child of my age, but thats another blog post. That day my big brother met me at home for lunch- boy could you imagine my excitement. So I hurried and fed Mr. Tom and made my way up those stairs.
I was scared. Not of him, he had never hurt me before, but scared of getting caught with my clothes off in bed with him; Scared of falling to sleep and not getting back from lunch on time. But I didn't want to disappoint him. I didn't want him to stop loving me. So I did as he asked. I had no idea that day my life would change forever.
At first it was like normal, like what he did to me on the sofa watching TV and I relaxed. But after a while, it changed. He crawled his large body on top of my undeveloped little self and he hurt me, as I lay stiff and confused. I didn't cry because I didn't want him to be mad. His approval meant the world to me and I was not about to mess it up. And when he was done, he crawled off me, got up and looked down at me and said, "You know if you tell, we will both get in trouble." And I knew he was telling the truth, so I got up and dressed in silence and went back to school and I held onto that secret for dear life. I was locked into that secret as tight as you could get and it took another 19 years for me to tell.
And I didn't understand that your big brother wasn't supposed to touch you so with the knowledge, I kept my secret. Looking back, I was correct, my mother would have seen it as sex rather than rape. I remember at 13 when I told that her new husband was grabbing my breast, she said, "Go sit your fast ass down somewhere. I'm not gonna let you fuck up my shit." And that was the end of that topic and I lived in terror unto I left home at 17.
But back then, at 10 years old, equally as important, I didn't want my big brother to stop loving me. He was the only person in my house showing me any attention. I had to take the good with the bad. And so it became a normal thing for me to come home from lunch, take my clothes off and be raped by my big brother.
And at 10, sex became a normal way of life for me. I remember it like yesterday, sitting in my therapist's office, I said it as a matter of fact, "I've always been this sexual being. I've been having sex since I was six years old." My therapist said so calmly, "Rae how does a six year old have sex with a grown man? How does a six year old even have sex?" It hit me like a ton of bricks. I cried for two weeks.
All my life, I was about 27 at the time, I believed that I had been having sex, when all along I had been raped. My boundaries had been blurred at a very young age. What was abnormal became a normal way of life. It took years of therapy to first understand how abnormal my childhood was and understand the impact it had on me as a young woman. By the time I was 10 I had already been taught how to have sex. My brother was only one person in a line of family members that raped me, it began at age 6. And sadly, I had been taught that sex was love. By the time I was 18, I believed if I could suck a man's dick and make him cry, he would love me forever. And for years, the older I got, the older my partners got.
How do you reconcile it all? And then when you are finally being vindicated all people can say is your "fast ass" wanted to get with him. Even if that was true, I wonder what "getting" with him in her young mind meant. I bet after he pissed on her, she knew her dream had become her worst nightmare. Only someone sick wants another person to piss on them.
But what do you do with that; The Degradation, the shame of it all? I wonder what he said to her about what he had done to explain it all away, to make it right. I wonder if he allowed her to wash her body before she clothed and made her way home? And does the need to have some attention, no matter how destructive it is to you, make you go back? I know grown women that stay in fucked up relationships with men because they don't want to be alone.
Oprah said it best to her father about his brother's repeated molestation of her when she was 13. Her father wanted to know details, he said to Oprah, " I understand, he raped you well explain to me what he did. Did he beat you? Did he throw you down, what?"
And Oprah said.. "It does not matter what he did. What matters is that I was the child and he was the adult, if I was walking through the house naked it was his responsibility to say go put some clothes on." And for Oprah it became a way of life. Leading to early sexual activity that led to a pregnancy and miscarriage at 13 and years of shame to follow.
Aaliyah's family was out of order. There is no amount of money that will make me agree to my 15 year old daughter marrying a man. I don't care who he was.
We spend so much time focusing on predators on the streets and in the Catholic Church, that we over look that same behavior in our homes and our own churches. We turn a blind eye and blame the victim. How soon we forget who is an adult and who is the child when it is convenient. Most often if a girl is in an older mans face at church, a woman tell her to go sit her "fast tail" down somewhere. But what we should be trying to figure out, is why she is so comfortable in a grown man's face? And who taught her this abnormal behavior?
There is a power relationship between child and adult. There is even more of a power relationship when the person comes with fame such as Congressman Wu, Kelly and Long. While rape is wrong on any level, there is something really sick about the abuse and misuse of power relationships.
How does a son tell his mother who trusted her pastor enough to give him guardianship of her son that he has been moved into a house to have easy access. Who can you trust when others in authority are implicit. Long moved the young man into another parishioner's house and apparently paid some of the the bills and spent nights there. And what adult agrees to this? *Blank Stare*
Then imagine how these boys felt when they learned there were other boys. For years they had been made to believe that they were "Special." Then they discover that it had all been a lie. The hurt and betrayal. The self-loathing that must have taken place with these boys. How could I have been such a fool... Why didn't I see it for what it was?
And then when you are finally being vindicated, people reduce it all to being gay and being financially cut off. I understand what it's like to be violated in the name of love, power and admiration.
Both Long and Kelly used their power of celebrity and pastor to overstep boundaries and possible Congressman Wu as the dusk settle. My step brother and Oprah's Uncle use their power as an authoritative family member to overstep their boundaries. Rape hurts on so many levels. This type of molestation carries long and deep wounds. We spend years trying to understand it.
When are we going to stop blaming the victim? When are we going to create space in this world to have a real discussion. When are we going to start protecting our children from the predators that live in our homes and pastor our churches.
And YES! I'm mad as hell that Black Clergy and Leaders have been silent. It sends a strong message to victims, there is no room for you at the Inn.....