Writer’s Name: Lorraine Elzia
Title: Sexual Abuse: A veil of silence
A veil of silence
Their lips are sealed in most cases. Shades of chocolate that run the extreme ends of the rainbow of their shared kinship. It’s a rainbow of affinity rooted in abuse. For those affected, a heritage rich in strength against all odds teaches them that dirty laundry does not get aired in public; especially in any manner that will bring shame upon the family or against its people in general. So they suffer mentally in silence; under the umbrella of obligation and shame which molds their speech, dictates their actions, and not only teaches, but demands that they put forth a façade of innocence concerning any violation or first-hand experience of the snatching of their sexual innocent virtue.
Violation is not exclusive to just them, but in the scheme of things, the way “they” deal with it is. Sexual abuse is taboo in general; but speaking of it can be almost sacrilegious in the African American Community.
We…don’t like to accept that it happens.
We…don’t like to acknowledge that it exists.
We…like to think that we are stronger than allowing an infiltration of something so ugly to make its ways into our family boarders or our bloodline.
We…are in denial and subconsciously impart a trait of, “secrecy of the sin” upon our s pecies when it comes to sexual abuse.
A generation of people who have found a way of claiming victory from slavery to a point of soaring to presidential heights, has a tough time recognizing, accepting and dealing with the fact that that crazy, drunken uncle that every family has…stepped over the boundaries and laid hands and other body parts on the children in the family. Or that innocent play between cousins became more than a “kissing cousin” game and resulted in incestal rape. Or the fact that momma’s boyfriend, Aunt Agnus male friend, or Millie’s occasional houseguest, took liberties on the body of a child; but not before threatening that child to keep quiet of what transpired.
That same generation can’t swallow the fact that as we aggressively push forward in all aspects of life to show that we are not only equal – but superior in some aspects when it comes to our line of thinking and in our actions as a people – and still accept that our skeletons still have a bit of flesh and bone to them. Those skeletons are alive and kicking, even if we choose to put them in a closet and pretend that they are dead and don’t exist.
We all have our cross to bear. That statement seems to reign over our logic sometimes.
A cross to bear? Is the loss of a child’s innocence the cross that a generation bears as part of a bigger sign of advancement and growth? Is the sad reality of a few casualties of innocence along the way a bitter necessity and ultimately ignored as we press toward the higher mark?
The problem in our community does not come in the form of taking a stand and trying to rectify a crime as best we can once we are aware of it. In most cases, the African American Community will take on that cause, as it has done with most others against our society, both individually and as a race. We respond, once attacked, with an unrelenting vengeance once the perpetrator is known. So the problem is not in what will we do once confronted with a violation; the problem comes in our sense of comfort in not wanting to know of the violation in the first place.
We are much more content, as a people, to act like we are ignorant that it may be happening than we are with being forced to take action. We’ll act when forced to; our bloodline dictates we are strong in that regard, but we just would rather not have anyone twist our arm to act.
There lies both the problem and the cure.
In order to stop the abuse, our community needs not only to have its arm twisted by the fact that sexual abuse is running rampant; but we need to have our arms broken, and ultimately put in a cast of undeniable pain before we will be prepared to take it seriously. In order to help our children, we need to pull off our, “ignorance is bliss veil” and be more proactive than reactive.
When it comes to reporting sexual abuse, race does matter. African-American women are less likely than white women to involve police in cases of child sexual abuse. Their need to remain behind a veil of secrecy is based upon fears about betraying the family by turning abusers into "the system" and a distrust that they have of institutions and authorities. So often, they just remain silent, being faithful to their “cross to bear.” That silence results in perpetrators remaining free to assault again.
Once an abuser, always an abuser. The only way to stop that vicious cycle is to bring the abuse to light. The only way to make shades of chocolate victims cry out and bring their abusers to light is for the African American Community to raise their veil of “ignorance is bliss” and instil within its children that they do NOT have a “cross to bear” for their race. We need to be more forceful in allowing them the freedom to not see their selves as a representative of their race and its cause. We need to teach them that they, as individuals, are more important than the big picture. We need to stress that although we will fight to right any wrong that we perceive, it is very important for us to have knowledge of the wrongs in order for us to battle them.
The veil of silence is not golden. If we want to put an end to sexual abuse in our community, we must take the time to instil in ALL of our people that they are not a martyr for a bigger picture of racial advancement or for the removal of generational shame.