Sexual Abuse Doesn’t Discriminate

Sugar Ray Leonard and Don Lemon highlight that sexual abuse can happen to anyone, including young Black males.

Posted: 05/20/2011 11:17 AM EDT

Recently two A-List African-American males have revealed very personal secrets: This week the public learned that Sugar Ray Leonard was molested as a teenager, and a few months ago, Don Lemon, who came out as homosexual this week, revealed that he too was molested when younger.

 

In his new book, The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring, Leonard writes, “Before I knew it, he had unzipped my pants and put his hand, then mouth, on an area that has haunted me for life. I didn’t scream. I didn’t look at him. I just opened the door and ran.” He says he was sexually abused by his coach while preparing for the Olympics in 1976.

 

As seen through Leonard, sexual abuse is never voluntary. How common is it? Reports show that it happens up to 80,000 times a year, but in reality the number of unreported instances, like the secrets Leonard and Lemon held for years, is far greater.

 

“African American men don't want to talk about ... I couldn't tell my mom that until I was 30 years old,” Lemon said in the middle of an interview about sex abuse charges against evangelical minister Eddie Long.

 

Eighty percent of all child molestation cases involve someone the child knows. Often children five years of age and older feel trapped between feeling loyalty and feeling wrong about the sexual activity.

 

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry suggests to look for the following signs in children who may be sexually abused:

 

-unusual interest in or avoidance of all things of a sexual nature

-sleep problems or nightmares
-depression or withdrawal from friends or family

-seductiveness

-statements that their bodies are dirty or damaged, or fear that there is something wrong with them in the genital area

-refusal to go to school

-delinquency/conduct problems

-secretiveness

-aspects of sexual molestation in drawings, games, fantasies

-unusual aggressiveness
-suicidal behavior

 

If you or someone you know is or has been a victim of sexual abuse, please contact:

 

The National Sexual Assault Online Hotline, 1 (800) 656-HOPE (4673)


For more information and resource, visit Stop the Silence.

 

Or, if you are in immediate danger, CALL 911 NOW.

 

(Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

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