Thursday, April 28, 2011

When Silence Is Not Golden

Of all the Critical Thinker blog posts I have written, this one is likely to be one of the more serious ones as it deals with a topic that I am sure has been around for as long as time but it just seems to be more prevalent now as more and more women reveal what tragically happened to them as children.

The topic has come to my attention because through my recent reading it seems to keep cropping up more and more. Books that immediately come to mind that I have recently read include Memories by Sister Claudette Marie Muhammad; Dare To Take Charge by Judge Glenda Hatchett; and Peace From Broken Pieces by Iyanla Vanzant. Not only had I read these books in succession and was hit in the face squarely with this issue, but many of my female guest authors this year on The Reading Circle with Marc Medley on WP88.7 FM transparently shared with the listening audience the same thing happening to them when they were a child or a young woman. Women such as Nicole B. Simpson, Allison Hobbs, and Syretta Walker shared with the audience how this very issue has impacted their lives. By now you are probably wondering what issue I am writing about. Well I am glad you asked. The extremely serious issue that this blog post is about is child molestation and rape. I decided to tackle this issue because it seems to be coming to light more and more by prominent women in our society.

Take a look at the account given by Sister Claudette Marie Muhammad in her book Memories in the chapter entitled Little Girl, Big Secret concerning one evening when her paternal grandfather came to visit:

“One evening he came to our house, ate dinner that my mother had prepared, played with us, and went into our bedroom to go to bed. He put me in the bed with him. Early the next morning, I woke up with Papa Travis on top of me. He had gone inside of me, tearing my vagina, splitting my rectum. Although, I tried to be silent, I knew that my grandfather was doing something very wrong to me. It reached the point where the pain and the smell of my grandfather were so overbearing, I screamed. My mother was in the kitchen cooking breakfast. She heard me scream, picked up a broom, ran into the bedroom and beat her father-in-law with the broom. He jumped up off me, picked up his clothes and ran out of the house.”

In Dare to Take Charge, Judge Glenda Hatchett recounts a case she had with a young girl Jamie who came into her courtroom:

“A young girl who came into my courtroom, Jamie was first victimized by William, her mother’s live-in boyfriend, when she was in the sixth grade. For years thereafter, she was verbally and sexually abused – one of the most horrendous situations you can think of, the chronic abuse of a child. William threatened to kill Jamie’s mother, Marie, if Jamie told anyone what was going on. After years of this horror, Jamie was no longer able to live with the shame and the agony. She confided in a trusted high school teacher. By then, Jamie was sixteen. A warrant was issued for the arrest of her mother’s live-in boyfriend, this despicable man. During her most vulnerable and formative years, Jamie had endured unimaginable, spirit-robbing abuse. In her child’s mind, she endured these violations in order to protect her mother. Of course, once the truth was out in the open, Jamie imagined that her mother would come forth and protect her. She expected her mother to reach for her and comfort her. But sadly, that was not the case. Even in this state of crisis, Marie withheld the love and support her daughter so desperately needed. Jamie’s mom did not behave as most mothers would have. Marie repeatedly accused Jamie of improper behavior. Marie insisted that her boyfriend could never have done this. She said that Jamie was blaming a poor innocent man when in fact it was Jamie who had behaved improperly and was having sex as a young child! Not only had Marie failed to provide a safe haven for her daughter, but she also turned against her, siding with a disgusting sexual predator of a boyfriend.”

Iyanla Vanzant gives an account in Peace From Broken Pieces as follows:

“Uncle Lee extended the other pig’s foot in my direction. Does he expect me to take it with my bare hands? Before I could, he dropped it; right on the sofa, between his legs. Rather than use his hand to retrieve his lunch, he grabbed me by the wrist. Instinctively, I pushed him with my free hand, which gave him the opportunity to grab my other wrist. Something was very, very, wrong, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. The mixture of scents flowing into my nostrils, the queasiness in my stomach, and the strange smile on my Uncle Lee’s face had rendered me feeble-minded, drained of all defenses. My face was too close to his. His tongue had no business being in my ear. Why was his foul-smelling, sticky mouth on my mouth? The more I twisted and turned to get away, the tighter his grasp became. I could feel my body become rigid just before it went numb. “Stop fighting me. Don’t fight me. We’re gonna have some fun. I’m gonna show you how to have fun.” My blouse was torn. My panties were ripped. His weight was smashing me into the sofa. His breath was foul. His calloused hands were groping my private parts. He was hurting me; ripping my insides apart.”

These accounts are chilling and for Claudette and Iyanla both in their late 60's/early 70's happened nearly sixty years ago when they were very young women. According to Child Help,  children are suffering from a hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect. Over 3 million reports of child abuse are made every year in the United States; however, those reports can include multiple children. In 2007, approximately 5.8 million children were involved in an estimated 3.2 million child abuse reports and allegations.

General statistics include:

•A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds.
•Almost five children die every day as a result of child abuse. More than three out of four are under the age of 4.
•It is estimated that between 60-85% of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as such on death certificates.
•90% of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way; 68% are abused by family members.
•Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.
•31% percent of women in prison in the United States were abused as children.
•Over 60% of people in drug rehabilitation centers report being abused or neglected as a child.
•About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse.
•About 80% of 21 year old that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.
•The estimated annual cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States for 2007 is $104 billion.
•Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy.
•Abused teens are 3 times less likely to practice safe sex, putting them at greater risk for STDs.
 •14% of all men in prison in the USA were abused as children

•36% of all women in prison were abused as children
•Children who experience child abuse & neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit violent crime.

As a father of four daughters, I implore men to leave these children alone. If you read the accounts I have shared in the post, you must agree that this behavior is SICK. Think of the damage that is being done to these lives. These children's lives were never the same for them again and any child that it happens to now will never have life the same again. Any and all forms of child abuse must stop.

Too many lives are being lost and altered due to abuse (see trend above). If you know a child that is being abused, please do not sit on your hands and do nothing. Do not just think that it will go away because it will not. Please call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child. You may just be saving a life.
After speaking with my guest authors and hearing their stories and reading the hellacious accounts of Sister Claudette Marie Muhammad, Jamie through Judge Hatchett, and Iyanla Vanzant, my mind could not help but wonder how many of our children right before our eyes are experiencing the same type abuse or some other form of abuse. My heart goes out to them and because it does, I wrote this blog post to raise awareness. We must stop any form of abuse in its tracks. Again the National Child Abuse Hotline is 1-800-4-A-Child.  As always I welcome your commentary and feedback in the comment section of the blog.

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