When I read this open letter written by Tyler Perry (a survivor of horrendous sexual and psychological abuse himself, I felt the need to share the letter in its entirety. Maybe some of you know why this is such a personal and painful subject for me.
Having said that, I wonder if it’s more difficult difficult for boys and/or men to come forth and tell someone about the abuse they are experiencing. Are people so numbed to girls being molested that it’s become no big deal anymore? Please don’t read anything negative into that question. These boys–who are now MEN, have been carrying around a painful darkness in their souls for most of their adult lives. I actually think it may be more difficult for a boy or young man to admit the shame they feel. The boys who were groomed and raped and controlled by those men who were authority figures in their lives had no choice but to keep quiet. The coaches were their “GOD”. Why would they tell on “God of Penn State”? Why would anyone who knew about the abuse want to risk pissing off Joe Paterno by going over his head to intervene and help these kids? Why would Joe Paterno want to risk his glorious career? I’ll tell you why: BECAUSE THOSE KIDS DIDN’T MATTER TO THEM.
“Do you know that at the young age of 11 you had more courage than all the adults who let you down? All of the ones who didn’t go to the proper authorities, all of the ones who were worried about their careers, reputations, or livelihoods. All of the ones who didn’t want to get involved. Or even the ones who tried to convince your mother not to fight. You are stronger than them all! I wonder what they would have done if it were their own child.
I had a few of those adults in my life, too. They knew and did nothing. One of them even said to me that it was my fault, because I allowed myself to spend time with the molesters. And yes, this was someone who was in power and could have called the police, but instead this person allowed this criminal to go on molesting other young boys for many years. When I did tell a family member, I wasn’t believed. I suffered in silence. But not you, my young strong hero, you have done what many of us wish we could have done. You used your voice!
You know, now that you’re older you need to be aware that the aftermath of abuse may affect you for a very long time. But that’s OK; just know that the strength it took for you to talk about it then will help you get through it now. I often tell myself that if I made it through that experience as a child, then surely as a man I should be able to get past it. It still may take you a while, but that’s OK too. I have known people who have gone through the same things that we have, but unfortunately they were never able to admit it, and it destroyed them. They never went for help, and they let the abuse defeat them. Some of them went to prison for crimes, some are addicted to drugs, and some have even committed suicide. I know that none of these things will happen to you. You are too strong for that!
No matter what happens next, just know that the hardest part is over. I wish the coward and very sick individual who hurt you would have the courage to admit his wrong and not put you through a trial. But he will most likely profess his innocence until the bitter end. And probably, all the while, yelling at the top of his lungs about all he has done to help troubled young boys.
You may have to go through with that trial, and you may feel all alone when you’re on that witness stand, but just know that there are millions of young boys and grown men who are standing with you—including me. If every man who has ever been molested would speak up, you would see that we’re all around you. You may not know all of our faces and names, but my prayer is that you feel our strength holding you up. You will get through this; you’ve already endured the worst part at age 11. Now fight on, my young friend, fight on! We are all with you.”
I don’t need to add anything further to this open letter by Mr. Perry. He eloquently wrote all that needs to be said, but we can all count on more and more men coming forth with courage to tell their horror stories perpetuated by monsters they trusted.
Please do take a moment to read Tyler Perry’s own story right here. He has made such a success for himself that he is indeed a survivor, not a victim. I wonder if I’ll ever feel that way.