The Facts & Statistics
I’d like to personally give a special shout to the #MeToo movement for giving women who’ve been victims of sexual assault as well as sexual harassment a platform to be vulnerable. It has given an insurmountable amount of support to women who have been abused and mistreated by men in their lives, most times by those who are the closest in proximity.
Before we go any further let’s have a firm understanding of what the difference is between sexual assault and sexual harassment: According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment is “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.”  The emphasis here seems to be on the verbal nature of the harassment; whereas the U.S. Justice Department defines sexual assault as being less verbal and more physical: “. . . any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”
But what of the men who have been sexually abused or harassed? Are there any studies on this subject? Why or why not?
My search extensive search has lead me to the following statistics:
- 3 out of 5 women will have been sexually harassed in their lifetime
- 1 out of 5 men will be sexually harassed in their lifetime
- According to the EOCC 80% of people, regardless of gender, never file a harassment complaint
A large reason for this are the feelings of shame, betrayal, embarrassment and perhaps even backlash from the immediate community. Most individuals feel like no one will believe their story so that’s why they don’t come forward. The person that took advantage of them may be a person of great influence or power. And let’s not mention the legal issues that could stem from making such a claim against a person.
A recent online survey provided by Stop Street Harassment illustrates that 3 out of 4 women are verbally harassed compared to 1 out of 3 men.
My inspiration to write this piece came from two men in particular that gave me the courage to come forward. Months ago on my #StrengthInNumbersPodcast I expressed my thoughts of Terry Crews’ run in with Adam Venit. Long story short Terry Crews had his genitals publicly groped at a party in Hollywood for everyone to see, you can watch his interview here:
Keep in mind that this was all done in front of his wife and the part that bothered me the most is that his assaulter was laughing. The audacity!!! As I listened to his story I was reminded of the slavery stories of buck breaking. Buck breaking is a process by which a slave master would emasculate their slaves in order to have control over the slave family. After the slave was beaten, he was often times raped in front of his wife and kids.
What stood out for me most about his interview is that he would not be ashamed of what happened to him, and the truth of the matter is that no one should.
My next source of inspiration is from a Breakfast Club interview I watched featuring Broward County’s VERY own, Denzel Curry. His new album TA1300 (Taboo) is exactly just that, it speaks on taboo subjects ranging from molestation to drug abuse. He then went on to say that he had been molested by a man as a child.
As I was watching the interview I recognized an all too familiar pain on his face that was similar to mine. I empathize with and commend that young man for being brave enough to share his story despite the pain it carried with it. You’re indeed stronger than most!
The Slumber Party
My first sexual experience was at the tender age of 5.
It was one of those weekends where my father picked me up, but before we went home he just so happened to make an extra stop to pick up one of his girlfriends, her daughter and her infant son. I suppose they figured it was a good idea since her and I were around the same age but I believe she was younger than me.
I can vividly remember my dad and his girlfriend of the that night being in a hurry for us to go to bed, for obvious reasons. Her son was put to sleep on the couch while her daughter and I slept on the living room floor, it was a slumber party of sorts. The light was turned off so that we could fall to sleep and they disappeared into his room.
While I was resting I could feel something on my body, moving around. I could feel that I was being caressed up and down my body, mainly my chest and stomach.
A burning sensation rushed through my entire body.
“What feeling is this?”
“Why am I feeling like this?”
It eventually traveled down to my genitals and I woke up to my slumber partner fondling my member. When I looked in her eyes they were bright and inviting; I don’t think this was done to be malicious but it definitely made me uncomfortable.
Uncomfortable to the point where I forcefully moved her hand away. It was uncomfortable to where it was physically tender for a couple of hours after.
Looking back on those events I strongly believe that she had witnessed her mom in a sexual act or that someone had sexually molested her. How else would she know what to do at such a young age? This being my first sexual encounter ever, it should be understood that I was thoroughly confused. I’m not even sure what this can be categorized as in today’s terms.
I remember vividly joining Metropolitan Community Church in 2001. My mom and I had just recently migrated from Quinn Chapel to this new institution that my godfather had transitioned to play the organ. When we finally did join the congregation greeted us with opened arms and we assimilated almost seamlessly into the population.
I think one of the greatest selling points that led us to join was the fact that there was a young population that I could assimilate into as well. Shortly after we joined the church I joined the Junior Usher board and made friends with everyone. I was basically the one kid everyone in the church used to sing praises about highlighting how handsome and respectful I was towards adults.
This is more than likely the time I started being observed by administration, more specifically the head minister of the church. Over the years of being involved in the church I began to look at the pastor as a father figure, an uncle or a big brother. So I divulged in extremely personal information that I feel like I couldn’t share with my family. I don’t have a close relationship with my biological dad, my stepfather and I had always been on bad terms since I began to develop as a man. There aren’t many men in my family and the ones that are I felt wouldn’t do shit anyway, in all honesty.
Our relationship had gotten so close that one year I even wrote a Fathers’ Day speech and presented it to the congregation. It described how much I appreciated him as a positive male role model in my life and the amount of trust I had in him.
Perhaps he saw this as a signal that I wanted to be sexually active with him.
It was during this time that I was attending South Suburban College and most times I would frequent Calumet City Public Library. It was there that I met Pierre.
Now this is not the first time I had seen Pierre, I had seen him in the ‘hood on numerous occasions but our paths never crossed. He was two to three years older than me anyway so why we bump into each other in the first place.
Anyway while I was studying for my exams I noticed Pierre studying the Bible. Our first conversation was about how he was slowly but surely turning his life around and how he was a junior pastor at a local institution in Calumet City. We both held out churches in high regard and invited each other to attend service.
The day after Pierre attended service he told me, emphatically and without a shadow of a doubt, that the head pastor was hiding something. He was so sure that he told me and whoever else I knew to stop attending.
Unfortunately, or fortunately that wasn’t the case, I suppose it depends on your perspective.
On my eighteenth and nineteenth birthday he had even taken me out for dinner. I thought absolutely nothing of it because my godfather had even treated me out for dinner on numerous occasions in the past.
One night, a couple of weeks after my 19th birthday I came home at about 11 o’clock at night. Shortly after I came home the phone rang, which was definitely out of the ordinary. When I saw that it was my pastor, I immediately picked up the phone but in the back of my mind I did feel as if it was a weird time for him to be calling home. Now that I think about it I’m pretty certain that he had watched me come in the door that night. He told me to come outside and I obliged.
As soon as I entered the car I smelled the strong scent of alcohol all throughout the vehicle but I pretended as if I hadn’t caught my attention. We greeted each other as usual and he asked me,
“Are you ready?”
I responded, “Ready for what?”
That’s when a large, unsettling, Chesire cat-esque appeared on his face.
He said, “Are you ready to go to this WILD party?”
Eventually I agreed and we were on our way. We drove west on 159th and anybody who’s familiar with the south suburbs knows how far 159th goes traveling west. For some reason I thought that we were going to a strip club to have “our talk”. I asked him exactly where we were going but he wouldn’t give me a concise answer.
“Damn maybe Pierre was right, this is probably what he was talking about”, I thought.
We eventually entered a residential neighborhood in Orland Park where he currently resides. The neighborhood was exactly the type of neighborhood you would expect a pastor to live in, it was very nice and each mini mansion had a great amount of yard space. When we enter the residence he tells me how much of a privilege it is to have a personal tour of his house. He goes to the fridge, pulled out some vodka in a fancy bottle and asked, “Ice or no ice?”
“No ice.”, I replied.
I hardly took any sips of that liquor because it definitely could’ve been spiked with something, anything.
Next he went to his humidor and asked if I knew how to prep a cigar, my response was no. He told me the way to prep a cigar in the same way “a girl would suck the tip of your dick.”
I laughed an uncomfortable laugh. In my eyes he was completely inappropriate but I was actually nervous as I had ever been in my life. He was completely out of pocket and I didn’t know what his plans were so I kept my composure.
“Are you ready?”
“Ready for what?”
We entered his garage which was filled with candles already lit, there had to be more that ten at the very least! There was a small table to set down our drinks with an ashtray for our cigars, two chairs were on either side of the table.
“Am I walkin’ into a séance or what the fuck is this?!”, I thought to myself.
We sit down and begin our conversation as normal but I could tell that he wanted to talk about the topic of sex for some odd reason. I made it crystal clear….
So I tell him, “I’m not a homophobe but I’m not gay.”
“Would you ever let another man suck your dick?”
“You said that like I was offering.”
“Are you?!?!”, he didn’t reply but he gave me a look, the same exact look that he gave me when I first entered the car.
Keep in mind that this is the same pastor who had come to my prom send-off and had actually told me to “wrap it up”.
I asked him if he has ever done anything sexual with another man and he tells me that he had in college. By this time, I was beyond ready to go but I kept cool, in all honesty I didn’t know what he was willing to do.
I guess he figured that I was done with the conversation but he’s too intoxicated to drive so I had to. As I’m driving back to Calumet City he motioned as if he was going to touch me, each time he did I jerked the car left to right. This was coupled with him saying, in a creepy manner, “nobody wants to suck your lil dick anyway.” I guess this was his way of using reverse psychology to see my penis.
I mean he really pulled out all of the tricks that were in his hat which means they must’ve worked in his favor before.
I hadn’t told my parents about what I experience that night for a solid year. So many thoughts ran through my mind and it forced me to look at myself under a microscope. Had I given him some signal to let him know that I was interested in that way? Why did God allow that man to be “of the cloth”? Who could I tell that could actually do something? What would the police do with the information when there was no concrete evidence? What would my church family do or say? How would the usher board react to these allegations?
I eventually told my mom and step dad about the encounter, she was clearly empathetic but my stepdad was actually tickled by the situation. I found that extremely weird, especially for him. Nonetheless a meeting with the pastor was scheduled.
I explained in graphic detail as I did above about the series of events that took place. Instead of admitting his wrong doing he deflected; claiming that I took his words out of context and went on to insult my intelligence. Next he told my parents that I had gotten someone pregnant, which was true, but he used it as a way to misdirect from his gross misconduct. I later found out that she actually had an abortion.
I genuinely expected him to get his ass beat right then and there but we left peacefully. As soon as we got in the car my mom said that we would never be attending that church again.
“Fuck God, he can’t be real if he’s lettin’ motherfuckas like that lead congregations!?!”
“Why is God lettin’ predators like this live?”
This was my thought processes from age 19 to about 23, 24. I was actually fixated on what had happened to me. It made me ENRAGED that I was taken advantage of, I felt like a damn dummy. I actually missed seeing all of the inviting smiles when I walked into the sanctuary but most of all I missed the connection I had with the friends I made on the Junior Usher Board.
I was at a very dark time in my life where I began to question everything, in fact, this experience turned me away from God. I had become atheist, then agnostic and now at 31 years of age I KNOW that I am spiritual everlasting being.
I AM God and God is in me!
We have to take into consideration the difference between God and humans. Unfortunately we, often times, place celebrities, singers, police officers, actors and members of the clergy on a higher moral pedestal when we shouldn’t. Most ministers claim to be prophets or Gods’ messenger when in reality they have ulterior motives. These are harsh realities that the Black Church has disregarded, which is why young people don’t put their faith in it. But more specifically the Black community has disregarded the claims and it must stop in order to save black boys and girls.
Black people, specifically millennials, are leaving the churches and ideologies of our slavemasters because the church isn’t edifying the congregation. In other words, the churches are claiming to provide a service in exchange for loyalty. The unfortunate reality is that most churches are in the business of making money and keeping that money close to the organization.
Some possible solutions to curb America’s rape culture would be to create safe spaces for individuals that have been sexually abused, either physically or mentally, and allow them to express themselves without being judged. Another practical answer would be to increase the penalties for such offenses.
Major Takeaways to Think About
- individuals as early as the age of 4 can be sexually aware/active
- the rate at which sexual harassment is reported in America is as slow as 2%
- men, black men go through sexual abuse as well but if victims are only reporting at 2% then imagine how many black men have been taken advantage of
- black men don’t like to talk about their feelings because “that’s what women do”, men who express their feelings are stigmatized as weak or less than a man
- men and women get sexually harassed at nearly the same rate according to age as illustrated by the graph below