This Is What Sexual Abuse Looks Like: Eddie Long and R. Kelly!
By Rae Lewis-Thornton
July 27, 2011
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.
Let's look at Eddie Long's predatory behavior for example, he hand picked young boys to mentor. They were typically ages 12-13, fatherless, with single mothers in his church. He spent time with them, lavished them with gifts and a certain lifestyle. Then he took the Bible and coached them on how to love him. Using the Word of God he taught these boys what "their special father-son relationship" should be. And then when they turned 17, of legal sexual consent in Georgia, which dissolves criminal liability, Long then began having sex with them.
Can you imagine the turmoil in these young guys. Sucking Long's dick in his office on Sunday morning and then going out to worship to hear him preach? Then the mental chaos around their sexuality: Am I gay or not? It could have been something like this: I'm not gay because the Bishop couldn't possibly be gay. He speaks publicly against homosexuals. But then how do you reconcile his homosexual acts with his ideological views? Imagine the confusion, Long had taught the whole church that homosexuality is a sin, but privately used the same Bible to explain their relationship. What do you say and who do you tell?
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*
The brainwashing that took place over the 5-6 years. And then we must address the issue of love. It had to be a constant in their heads. If I ask him to stop or if I say no, will he stop loving me?
These were fatherless boys who looked to Long as a father. As their pastor and mentor he assumed that role, he had no RIGHT to cross that boundary. He was a grown ass man and it was wrong on so many levels. Long exhibited, Clergy Abuse, Predatory and Pedophilia behavior.
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 possibly 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.
My question is when are we going to accept our culpability in this as a community? When are we going to validate victims and give them voice?
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.
Rae Lewis-Thornton Speaks
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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