After a recent, powerful conversation with drummer extraordinaire and humanitarian Sheila E., I realized that she and I had something, unfortunately, in common — childhood sexual abuse.
Yes, even little Black boys can be molested, abused, attacked or raped. And like little girls of color, whether Black or Latino, our families tend to sweep such incidents under the carpet. Maybe it’s the guilt our parents and guardians feel for allowing such horrendous acts to occur. Maybe they want to keep things quiet to avoid others finding out — the shame involved.
I really couldn’t care less what adults may feel. Truth is, they weren’t the ones violated.
Sheila E. told me she carried pain, guilt and shame with her for over 40 years. Now, she has established a foundation and travels the country to help others who have been victims of sexual abuse.
Me? Well, I fought the individual who tried to rape me with every breath in my body. As God would have it, I managed to escape that sick man — a much older cousin. Thinking back, I remember feeling like it was just a dream — but pain tells you that it’s real. I remember asking myself, ‘Is this Negro crazy?’
That’s when I used what God gave me to get away: two feet, plenty of sharp teeth and finger nails. They worked. Others have not been as lucky.
Sheila E. told me she had the best parents in the world. I would say the exact same thing. As we chatted, we both agreed that it was not our parents’ fault. But it was not ours either. We agreed that telling someone would have helped both of us cope with the confusion and pain we endured all alone for so many years.
But then, I asked myself, if my parents and my family would have really believed me — or if they would have pointed accusatory fingers at me. I guess that’s something I’ll never know for sure. So, let your children, your grandchildren and other little ones who are in your lives all know that they can always come to you with anything. Let them know they can trust you. Because it’s only we feel safe enough to say something that something can be done.