Oprah, Monique, Gabrielle Union, and Queen Latifah are all famous Black women who have shared stories of sexual abuse, and/or rape, with the public. And in each case, the response to their experiences was generally met with compassion and sympathy. They were praised for being courageous enough to speak up and for inspiring other woman to do the same. But why is it that when Lil’ Wayne revealed he was molested and introduced to sex at the age of 11 by a 14-year-old girl on Jimmy Kimmel Live, he was met with laughter rather than shock or sympathy?

It seems there is a double-standard in the way sexual abuse is viewed when it comes to men vs. women. For men, childhood molestation by a female can be viewed as a rite of passage. While women who experience sexual abuse from a male are usually viewed as victims of a serious crime. However, there is a certain aspect of male sexual abuse that comes with a significant level of taboo, hush-hush, shame, scandal and dismay—and that’s male sexual abuse at the hands of another male.

Both male and female victims of sexual abuse can adopt a feeling of shame in regards to their experience, moreover, men who suffer abuse at the hands of a male predator can also feel emasculated; making them less likely to reveal the abuse. Men who come forward run the risk of being ostracized by their peers, having their manhood challenged/questioned, or having society speculate about their sexual orientation.

With all the sexual abuse scandals in the media as of late, I wondered about the prominence of this type of abuse among Black men. There’s a plethora of literature, movies and open discussions dealing with the sexual abuse of women, but one might find it hard to find as much attention granted to male victims—Black men in particular. Even the Catholic priests’ abuse scandals have a White face associated with them, when there were many Black males victimized as well.

If you think you don’t know any men who have experienced this, chances are you do. According to online support system BSAS (Black Sexual Abuse Survivors), 1 in 6 Black males have been molested as children, and 1.9 million African-American men have been sexually abused. The reality is that this type of abuse is taking place every day in prisons, our communities, homes, schools, etc. and has yet to be properly addressed.

Taking this all into account, I considered how I would react if the man I was in a relationship with told me he was a victim of same-sex sexual abuse or rape. I’ve had men tell me (very nonchalantly) that they were taken advantage of sexually at a young age by women much older. However, I’ve never had a man come forward about sexual abuse at the hands of another male. Would I be able to accept my partner if he told me he had been? As a heterosexual woman, would the thought or fear that he may secretly be sexually attracted to men linger in my mind? I’ve asked myself all of these questions, and I believe that the first step I would take would be to have an honest and open dialogue with my significant others. I believe women shouldn’t be scared to ask. You have a right to know, and it will allow you to make an informed decision regarding whether, or how, to move forward in your relationship.

Most importantly, I think it’s important for us as women to have the sensitivity, compassion, and understanding with which we would want to be met were we to reveal that we had been abused—and not to further victimize the victim. Don’t let the constant “Down Low” rhetoric spark paranoia and/or apathy towards male sexual abuse victims. The affects of sexual abuse can manifest in various ways. While it can lead some victims to engage in homosexual behavior, this is certainly not always the case. Depression, promiscuity, low self-esteem, anger, aggressiveness, emotional disconnect, etc., are among an extensive list of potential results. If you’re a women who has experienced sexual abuse, just think of how it has affected you and imagine how it could be eating your man up inside. In a culture that irresponsibly promotes irrational ideas of hyper-masculinity and macho-ism, same-sex molestation and/or rape can leave Black men feeling powerless, emasculated, and alone. Remember, they are the victims, so we should do our best not to further any sense of shame or guilt.

Look into the stories of KEM, Donnie McClurkin, Tyler Perry, Todd Bridges, and other Black men who have publicly shared stories of sexual abuse. Also, BSAS recommends the books: Broken Boys/Mending Men: Recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse, by Stephen D. Gruban-Black, and African Americans and Child Sexual Abuse, by Veronica D. Abney, as resources for healing.

As women we’re often the first nurturers and consolers who men have in their lives. If you find out your man was a victim of sexual abuse, with the right approach your womanly intuition and support could be the first step in helping him to heal and seek the best way to move forward.

56 Comments

  1. I’m 17 and my 18 year old boyfriend(of a year and 4 months) was sexually abused as a child, by a man. He told me about two months ago. I then realized that the abuse was the answer to many of our communicaton problems, and why he didnt like to talk baout certain things, and why he did things like (being overly flirtatious with other girls ) and things of that nature. he told me it was because he wanted to feel loved, by a woman, rather. He wanted to someone to confide into. He told me that as a preteen and young teenager he questioned his sexuality, he attempted suicide, and he hated himself. he said since he was forced to particpate in sexual acts as a kid wth someone 9 years older… he felt bad, and stupid like he shouldve done something… I asked him “What could you had done at 7 years old?” But now, his manhood is on point, and I’m glad I understand , and that i didnt judge him or anything. It just made our relationship stronger. I love him:)

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    • Emelyne

      I’m happy for you and grateful that your boyfriend has a woman like you to call his own.

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  2. Rosa Rosa

    My significant other of three years, recently revealed to me that he was a victim of childhood sexual abuse from age six to age 13, by a female relative. He had effectively (or so he thought) suppressed the painful memories, but the pain of his violation manifested itself in ways that often challenged our relationship and now makes sense; mood swings, resistance to my initiating intimacy, unexplained anxiety and hypervigilance in family social settings that included the female relative, gravitating to work in the capacity as a victims abuse counselor and other types of anti-victimization activities (walks, vigils, etc.). I always felt fortunate that he was so protective, and he still is. I just now have an explanation for so many puzzling behaviors. He confronted his female relative and is now considering counseling. He has told me some parts of the many times she violated him, and most of them are horrifying: locking him inside a room until he had “serviced” her, insisting upon bathing him to fondle his privates, etc., etc. The last year of the molestaton at age 13 included rape (yes rape), and him being forced to “spend nights” at her house where she would molest him throughout the night. He never told anyone, because he knew that a “real man” was supposed to feel fortunate to have an “older” woman incorporate him into sex. He absolutey has experience a range of complex emotions in his recollection of those dark years. His revelation has also disrupted the dynamics within his family. Many don’t believe him and some have stopped speaking to him. I should add that his suppressed feelings surfaced at a family gathering where he observed this female family member perpretrator interacting with a young male member of the family who was clearly uncomfortable with the attention. Yes, our male children are equally as vunerable as our females and females can be rapists too. I’m going to hang in there, although it’s clear that it will get worse, before it gets better.

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  3. I’ve known about Lil Wayne’s abusive past years before Kimmel or VH1 Behind the Music. I remember reading about Wayne in one of those rap magazines as a teenager. The rappers in the Magazine were recounting their first sexual experience. I am not lying when I tell you 80 percent of those rappers lost their virginity in a horrible fashion. One rapper spoke of being rapped by two teenage babysitters at the age of 9. That could have been Lil Wayne I don’t know. I remember reading about how Wayne lost his virginity. At the time he was telling reporters the girl was a lot younger than what she was and he made it seem like it was some mutual happening. He didn’t tell the part about Baby forcing the girl to perform oral sex on him. But even as a young person myself, I remember reading that article about Wayne and other rappers and being very, very, disturbed. That is why rap are so misogynistic. The people who make the music are born out of this culture of sexual violence.

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  4. I also had a friendship with a guy who I believe was molested as a child. But at the time I didn’t know. He was one of the most popular guys in the school, a ladies man. But he would exhibit strange behaviors around women/girls. He use to have the weird moments or outburst in class that people would just brush as him being the class clown, but I later figured out those were panic attacks.

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  5. Wallflower

    Yesterday me and my significant other of 1 year and 6 months and his friend spent our afternoon gaming in a local cyber cafe. He recently turned 16 last January and I’m turning 15 by the end of the month, which means we’re still minors. He was seated beside an older man, around his late 20’s or early 30’s and looks very masculine, and the man initiated some small talk. I saw him once or twice look at my love’s crotch. I shook it off then his sister’s significant other chimed in to say hello. He looked at us at us for a second and said something to my sweetie that he should watch his back then left. When we we’re about to leave he looks pale and worried. Then the man asked his number and by the way he said it makes you think he’s gay. My love refused and quickly moved away with me, holding me closer than usual in a worrying way. The next day my boyfriend was unusually awkward and touchy-feel, especially when I told our pals about the flirty gay man and our pals made fun of it. Later, I asked him about it and he said he was groped and molested by the man. At first I almost laughed because I thought he was kidding but apparently he’s serious. He said his sister’s boyfriend saw it and told him it wasn’t me. He told me at first he thought it was me who has groping his thigh and butt so he shook it off but he found out it was actually the gay man if it wasn’t for his sister’s boyfriend. Now I feel guilty of laughing at him because the old pervert asked his number. It turned out he was really angered and dismayed and even traumatized by it that he even refused to go in there again without a chaperone and that if he sees that man again he would avoid him and if he molests him again he would punch him square to the jaw or even beat him up and stick his pen in the gay dude’s eye. I’ve never seen him like this before. As his girlfriend I would be deeply affected by this. He told me not to tell our friends and acquaintances about it to keep him safe. I really want to help him, but I don’t know how… This makes me dislike gays like that old pervert more. Don’t get me wrong, I find effeminate guys adorable and fun to be with and I’m I’m a little curious about girls which doesn’t make me homophobic, but that gay man needs to go to hell.

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