Earlier this week I had the pleasure of being invited as a guest on Starr radio show ‘black women talking’. Roz, the presenter of the show was most welcoming and we talked for over an hour about my experience of sexual abuse, my journey to healing from the trauma and some of the challenges faced by survivors in the black community. Roz has been championing the cause for many years in raising awareness of sexual abuse and its impact on mental health. She is planning on becoming an M.P to bring in changes that will empower and protect future generations of children. It has been refreshing and encouraging to talk with her about this issue, as Roz has found raising awareness just as challenging as I have.
Denial and complicit silence have played a big part in why sexual abuse, especially familial abuse (incest and sexual abuse within the family) has gone unchallenged. Lack of accountability and enabling behaviour has allowed paedophiles and child molesters in the black community (yes, people of our race are committing this crime too) to cause untold damage to so many lives. The same issues we are facing now in terms of this epidemic problem is the same issues I faced nearly thirty years ago when as a 13-year-old girl when I took the risk to speak out and tell someone what was happening to me. I paid the cost of course when I was ostracised by birth family.
Obviously, childhood sexual abuse is a problem in all races and cultures and I have been speaking out on behalf of all survivors for many years. But as a black woman with first-hand experience and knowledge of the problems regarding this issue in the black community, I need to address it. The time has come for us in 2018 to face the elephant in the room, or should I say our community. We can no longer stand by and all those who commit this crime to get away with it. Education and awareness are essential in breaking down perceptions and attitudes regarding sexual abuse as 90% of childhood sexual abuse is committed by someone the child knows, loves or trusts. It is not a white people problem; it is a society problem. People of different races, age, classes and religions are capable of being paedophiles and child abusers. Social demographics does not exempt those who are motivated to sexually abuse children. It is only when people in our community and wider society can accept the fact that the most unlikely of people are perpetrators of this crime and engage in an open discussion about it, that the taboo surrounding sexual abuse will be truly broken down. Maybe then victims and survivors of childhood sexual abuse will get the support they need in facing the pain of their experience rather than worrying about being judged and shamed.