As the layers of secrecy begin to unravel at Penn State, the world’s attention has been drawn to the silent suffering of little boys who were not protected from a powerful man many had long suspected was a predator.
The story of these boys, many of them foster kids seeking mentoring and guidance, should stand as a symbol of the countless boys we will never hear about. Countless broken spirits child molesters have left behind.
Broken spirits. And broken lives.
Fortunately, in the Penn State case, several of the young men who were victimized have summoned the incredible courage it takes to silence the voice of shame and come forward to speak out about the years of abuse they suffered at the hands of someone they thought could be trusted to provide some semblance of fathering. It is a scenario too many of our children are experiencing. Too often they suffer silently with their secrets … forever.
The silence is extremely powerful. It grants the perpetrator the freedom to victimize others, and imprisons the survivor in a cell of shame and self-doubt. As a society, we have begun to discuss this issue more openly, and hopefully, that means more children will feel safe to tell, and more predators will get the justice they have coming.
According to BlackSurvivors.org:
Some believe that black males cannot be sexually abused or that women cannot be perpetrators, thus making it hard for black males to come forward about being sexually abused. Some black male victims of sexual abuse are afraid of being called gay if they reveal they were sexually abused by a man.
Alarming Facts About Sexual Abuse
- Perpetrators can be men, women or children.
- 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men report they were sexually abused as children.
- Family members and acquaintances account for 93 percent of predators.
- Men who have been abused are more commonly seen in the criminal justice system than in clinical mental health settings.
- Some men feel societal pressure to be proud of early sexual activity (no matter how unwanted it may have been at the time).
It takes courage for any survivor of sexual abuse to speak about their experience, but it is especially difficult for men to reveal this secret. Here are 4 black men who summoned the courage to tell their truth: