At first, I was reluctant to use this public platform as a vehicle to unveil my experience with being sexually harassed. But as a youth advocate, I feel compelled to divulge my secret, with the hope that my testimony will inspire others to come forth. It’s been over 25 years since I graduated from the D.C. Public Schools (DCPS), as a star linebacker from Chamberlain Vocational High School. And it’s taken equally as long for me to open up about what happened to me at the hands of a trusted DCPS Athletics official. In fact, I never told my parents, former teammates, coaches or even closest friends.
During my senior year, a week or so after my participation in the Annual D.C. Coaches All-Star Game, I was invited over to the official’s home for a “photo shoot” that was supposedly an exclusive layout of athletes who were considered “top tier” in the City of Washington, D.C.. To make a long story short, what I came to find out was that the photo shoot was a stunt to lure me into a sexual act. However, having been raised in both Brooklyn, NY and Washington, D.C. – highly urbanized areas where some of the seediest things go on – I was taught to always be aware of my surroundings and to use my instincts to follow the rule that when something doesn’t “smell right” to get out of there. And I did just that.
Fast forward to 2018, my “breakthrough” moment came when a former girlfriend and I were having a conversation, sharing stories about dark moments in our lives. For some strange reason I felt compelled to spill the beans about what had happened to me in high school. I recall that moment very vividly because I remember telling her that she was the first person I’d ever opened up to about this. So, when you hear people ask “why didn’t he or she come forward earlier?” I can attest to that it’s not always that easy. Although it was one of the most horrendous moments in my life, when I reflect back on that situation, it never dawned on me that the real reason why I stayed silent for all those years was that deep down inside, my biggest fear was that no one would ever believe me. With the burden of shame now lifted off of my back, I feel obligated to use SAFEO and its iBelieveU campaign as a vehicle to increase awareness and to give those who are afraid to come forth, a voice.
EVERY 9 MINUTES Child protective services substantiates, or finds evidence for, a claim of child sexual abuse.
The effects of child sexual abuse can be long-lasting and affect the victim’s mental health. Victims are more likely than non-victims to experience mental health challenges.
Join us as we work to provide a voice for our youth who have been victims of sexual misconduct and domestic violence.