Courage

I am a big fan of the 5 Browns. I own some of their CD’s and have watched them in concert on several occasions. I watched the news in horror this past week as a dreadful story of sexual abuse was revealed.

Desirae (32), Deondra (30), and Melody (26) Brown, now grown women, were each sexually abused in their childhood by the man who should have protected them at all costs. Their own father. This is so unthinkable, that it is hard to wrap our minds around it. This strong religious family, with high standards and values was torn apart by the selfishness of one individual.

Are your questions like mine? Why didn’t they tell sooner? Did they tell someone, and were silenced, or not believed ? Did their mother know of the abuse? Were there threats that kept them from coming forward? Why now?

The now, has been answered. The girls’ father, once their manager, was preparing to represent other performers…girls, perhaps young girls. The Brown women decided to come forward to protect other girls. I applaud their courage.

Sexual abuse thrives on secrecy. It occurs in secret and the perpetrator demands secrecy. Sometimes the secrecy is enforced with bribes or threats. The victim may keep the secret out of shame or guilt. Others may contribute to the secrecy by pretending that it didn’t happen, or that it is somehow normal, or that the victim was at fault.

The lines are often blurred, when the perpetrator is a family member, someone who is loved and trusted. Victims feel confused. Family members are torn. Who should they believe? How can they preserve the family? What about the consequences of prosecuting, and the damage that is sure to spill into the family?

Victims are often encouraged to remain silent and to pretend that everything is ok. The victim, already damaged and confused is left to bear sorrow and pain with little support and validation. Clearly this is wrong. Clearly our first concern should be to support the victims in their healing.

Ending sexual abuse calls for courage on every front. Courage to tell. Courage to support. Courage to honor the truth. Education is key, with communication and trust intertwined. We need to education and communicate. We need to be a safe person and build trusting relationships. We need to model and teach courage.

Here’s to courage.

Linda Garner

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