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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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My young mind didn't know how to process all of this. I knew that this was sex and sex was "being fast." I knew if I told, my mother would beat me because she had always told me she would beat my ass as dead as I got to die for being fast.

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 until 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.


Each day at lunch time, I went back to school and sat in class with blood and semen on my 10-year-old vagina. I didn't even know to clean my body. I was a grown woman, before I even understood that I was not having sex, but had been raped over and over again.

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.

Now, can you imagine a 13-year-old girl idolizing R. Kelly being excited that he chose her to hang out with him, to in the end be sexually abused, taped and urinated on. I wonder what she felt when she walked out of that room. I know what it's like to walk away from abuse and not really understand that you were abused. But yet you still have this lump in your throat and a feeling in you're belly that this isn't right.

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.

How does a 13 year old process it all, especially with someone famous? Who do you tell? How do you tell? What do you say? Maybe this: Yes, I had some fairy tale dream about R. Kelly, so I was willing to have sex with him, but I didn't know that fairy tales are lies. I didn't know I would get violated. I didn't understand that a man triple my age had no real use for me, but how would I know this? I mean he did marry Aaliyah. She was only 15. Why not me?

You never really know, what went through that girl's head. But what I know for sure, is that at 13 she was still a child and in our culture there is a moral obligation that an adult has when it comes to a child.

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.

And don't tell me that girls at 13 in other counties are married with children. It does not make it right. Patriarchy and the devaluation of girls needs to be rooted out in every country, And by the way, I live in the Western world, where there are boundaries and laws. Someone tweeted me last week and said that the family of the R. Kelly rape victims knew. Then they were as sick as R. Kelly. Who offers up a child's body, with maybe the hope of some kind of financial gain. And I might as well say it, 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 overlook 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 the adult and who is the child when it is convenient. Most often if a girl is in an older man's face at church, a woman tells 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?

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See Also
Sexual Abuse of Children and HIV


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Rae Lewis-Thornton Speaks

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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