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This Is What Sexual Abuse Looks Like: Eddie Long and R. Kelly!

By Rae Lewis-Thornton

July 27, 2011

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This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.

Sunday, I went on one of my famous Twitter rants and my bottom line is this, men keep your dick in your pants, if the person is not the age of sexual consent. Stop using your power to take what you ethically and morally have no right to take! I went on to say to my followers, "If you have a problem with my raw tweets on Sunday, Whatever! *Shrugs* because I'm still mad that Pastors have not spoken up about Eddie Long using the Bible to groom those boys to fuck him." Yep I said it! Basically this needs to be a Sunday morning discussion.

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?

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There are some underlying issues for me when it comes to sexual abuse and rape: Age, consent, misuse of power and boundaries, as with many of these cases. This stands true whether its Congressman Wu, Eddie Long and, yes I'm going there, even R. Kelly.

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 person's 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.

I grew up unloved and unwanted and was told often that nobody wanted me. So when my Step-Brother started showing me attention, boy was I happy. It was our "Special Relationship." I was 10 years old and he was around 18-19. We started out watching TV together; Just us, me, my big brother, penny candy and popcorn. With someone to love me, my young mind thought that I had struck gold. One day while watching TV he put a blanket over us to keep the boogie man away while we watched scary movies.

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 with 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 that's 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.

But this was different. The TV wasn't on and he was in the other room. When I called out, he told me to come to where he was. I did as instructed. When I walked into the room he was laying on the let-out sofa under the covers. I could see his chest, which I had never seen before and I was confused. Why were we taking a nap in the middle of the day? I didn't understand so I asked, "We not gonna watch TV?" "No, we gonna lay down," he said all chipper, "Take your clothes off. Don't you want to lay down with me?" I did. I mean I liked being close to him but this made me nervous.

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 asleep 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.

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See Also
Sexual Abuse of Children and HIV

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Paul T. (UK) Mon., Aug. 22, 2011 at 5:57 am EDT
Thank the lord for people like Rae Lewis-Thornton who says it like it should be said - she gives a voice to all those people who are silent - she stands nand gets counted and is a great source of strentgh when we feel low - i too am a survivor of sexual abuse and rape 37yrs survivor of abuse 31yrs survivor of rape - I thank Rae for speaking what needed to be said
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Comment by: Gwen (Milwaukee, WI ) Thu., Aug. 18, 2011 at 12:41 pm EDT
All I can say is "Thank you".
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Comment by: Harvett (East Cleveland, OH) Tue., Aug. 16, 2011 at 1:37 pm EDT

I love the comments and I loved the article, but I have one question, "What black folks are you talking about?" As a black woman the people I know talked about this crap all the time, And please stop just pointing the finger at the men, some women are freaks also. If you are a man or woman who wait for a child to hit 18 or 19 years of age to take advantage of them, You are a pedophile plain and simple, This filth with stop when people want it to stop, a few cannot do it alone.
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Comment by: Beverly (Florida) Sun., Aug. 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm EDT
We all know that the black community is infamous for "hiding it's dirty laundry." this same laundry manifests itself with decades of family dysfunction that no one wants to talk about. It is the proverbial "elephant in the room." We need to keep the lines of communication open with our children at all times, and let them know that they can come to us in times of need. That they will not be ridiculed or judged harshly. Until this issue is brought out into the unforgiving glare of daylight, it will continue to flourish in the darkest of shadows. Sisters, tell everyone you know, because if you don't, you will allow the pervert to continue victimizing others, robbing them of their innocence, and their right to a normal, emotionally healthy life.
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Comment by: Enid Vazquez (Chicago) Thu., Aug. 11, 2011 at 4:08 pm EDT
Perfect. Absolutely perfect. I'm especially concerned about the lack of understand and outright culpability of others. I wonder when sexual abuse will finally end - when will we stop accepting it?
Enid
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Comment by: Tonya (Michigan) Wed., Aug. 3, 2011 at 1:41 pm EDT
Thank you for writing.
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Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award-winning AIDS activist who rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with AIDS in a cover story for Essence Magazine. She has lived with HIV for 27 years and AIDS for 19. Rae travels the country speaking and challenging stereotypes and myths about HIV/AIDS. She has a Master of Divinity degree and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Church History. Rae has been featured on Nightline, Dateline NBC, BET and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as in countless magazines and newspapers, including Emerge, Glamour, O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Jet, Ebony, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, to name a few. She earned the coveted Emmy Award for a first-person series on living With AIDS for Chicago's CBS News.

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