When I was in high school, we had a motivational speaker come one morning to inspire us. As we filed into the auditorium, I began to notice that it was only female students invited inside. That seemed a little odd to me, but any chance of getting out of class was a welcomed opportunity.
As the speaker began his talk, he gave many statistics on abuse that stood out to me. To illustrate his point, he asked every fourth girl to stand up. As each girl stood to her feet, he said that based on statistics, each one of these young women would experience abuse in her lifetime. For the first time in my life, abuse felt real and close to home. I imagined it happening to my friends, and I now believed it could happen to me.
After watching Surviving R. Kelly on the Lifetime Network this past weekend with family and friends, abuse felt just as close to home as it did that day in high school. Two of the five women sitting with me had been sexually abused as children, and one had experienced domestic abuse in her adult life. We sat as living proof that these statistics are real.
What’s more disturbing are the instances that Black women and girls are not believed to be truthful in their claims of abuse, pain, crimes against them or trauma. Studies have proven that Black girls by age 5, are seen as less innocent than their White counterparts. When visiting the doctor, Black women are less likely to be believed when addressing physical pain.
I am BEYOND tired of Black women not standing in the gaps for one another when our fathers, brothers, uncles, pastors, coaches, teachers, and communities fail us. Our society has embedded into our subconscious the disbelief and fear of one another. TIMES UP. We owe it to ourselves, our children, and our future to speak up about abuse and the deep-rooted trauma that has crippled our growth and development for centuries.
Robert Kelly has been a predator hiding among us in plain sight, but so have other countless men and women. They have sat on your couch, preached from your church’s pulpit and been pillars in your communities. They have terrorized, victimized, and been given credence long enough.
To all of the women and men reading this who have been a victim of abuse, you are not alone. This community stands with you and lifts you higher as you confront, peel away and heal the many layers of your life. It will take time, but it is worth it. If you need to speak with someone immediately and confidentially, please call 800-656-HOPE (4673).
Our wellness is the wellspring of our lives. My prayer is that you continue to live well and be well on the Earth.