Why is sexual abuse JUST NOW getting ADDITIONAL recognition in our society but not in our households and in our communities? Within the black community we rarely disclose any information with one another on this problem. Do we fear our families being frowned upon? Maybe we feel we have to protect not only our families, but our race. Yet we cannot ignore that sexual abuse is happening. It’s happening within our schools, homes, and churches.
The month of April has been set aside to bring awareness of sexual assault. During April, Inside The Girl’s Room will be highlighting celebrities; men and women , who are very successful and productive but survivors of the unfortunate epidemic of child abuse and sexual assault.
Many people assume that sexual abuse is just a women’s rights issue, however this is an issue that affects us all. NFL wide receiver Laveranues Coles can definitely relate to the stigma of sexual abuse only targeting women. In 2005, Coles revealed to sources that he had been sexually abused by his mother’s husband between the ages of 10 through 13. Coles suffered with a trouble past throughout his life as a teen leading up into being drafted into the NFL, from shoplifting , anger, rebellion, having thoughts of being gay, and rebellion.
Coles told sources back in 2005:
“I haven’t talked about it in forever, but I know that holding something like that inside has been a burden for so long. For me to get on this platform that I have, having been in the league and have all the media attention that we have, I think it’s something that should be said. If it gets one kid to come out and say, ‘Look, this is happening to me, I think it’s right.”
Cole also gave his awesome testimony on the Oprah Show as well as to the New York Times.
On Oprah Coles revealed why he struggles so hard with dealing with the opposite sex. He fears that women will look at him as being unclean or not normal. He disclosed to Winfrey that this is the main reason why he does not have a girlfriend or is not married. In a statement Coles said :
“ I don’t know does someone want to be with me after everything that I’ve been through. It makes it very hard for me to trust women. I think it has a lot to do with why I’m probably not married today because the way I felt about myself…not knowing how a woman would take having a man that this has happened to.”
Unfortunately it is rare that men and women have these conversations amongst one another. Sexual assault and abuse affects one of out seven men and perhaps even more, considering that most of all cases of rape are under reported.
Yet Coles has gone on to become a very successful pro football star while sharing his story and allowing others to gain their freedom back from sexual abuse. Coles has played for the New York Jets, the Washington Red Skins, and the Cincinnati Bengals. His net worth is 7.5 million dollars with 11 seasons of professional football under his belt. He lets us know that when one survivor speaks up and tells his or her story , others may continue to speak out as well.