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If you have had the misfortune of being one of those kids who was sexually victimized by an adult, the one thing you know is the script. You know it by heart, and even after years of therapy and recovery and acceptance that script can send you back -- right back -- to where you were all those years ago, or yesterday.
They start by telling you how special you are, and how they want to spend time with you, help you to succeed. They invite you to their secret place, whether it's their house or their office or even their car. They're affectionate in words and speech, and they reach out, little by little and draw you in and because you're a kid and they're an adult you let them. It's not until later that the shame overcomes the privilege. They find you because you've had trouble in your life, or your family isn't all it should be, or you're poor, or you're smart, or whatever it is that attracts. And once they find you, they pursue you. Relentlessly.
This piece of video where CNN anchor Don Lemon has a panel discussion about the alleged molestations committed by Bishop Eddie Long is some of the most compelling real time, real life television I've seen in a long time. During a frustrating but polite exchange with three panelists who are fully supportive of Bishop Long, Lemon first plays a description from one of the attorneys of Long's alleged inappropriate behavior with one young man.
At about 5:08 in this clip, Lemon tells this panel gently but firmly that what that lawyer described fits the profile and he knows it because he lived it, too.
LEMON: Yes. Listen, I know it's very tough to listen to this, but I want you to listen to what the lawyer of the accused to say about one of the young men that accused the bishop and their relationship and what happened. Let's play that and then we'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNSTEIN: Anthony was moved in and lived in that house for approximately at the end of 11th grade when he was 17 years old. And there, the pastor started to do what adult pedophiles do with younger, younger people -- which is starting to spend time with them, casually watch TV with them and lay his legs on him, and then ask him to massage him and then start explaining to him how special he was to him and it was special for the bishop to be able to spend time with them. They did devotional readings together. He was over there on a regular basis at this house.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What do you think when you hear that? What do you think when you hear that, John?
CAMPBELL: I -- I still have a feeling that those -- those are not intentions of bishop. Bishop is known to be a mentor to young men and I feel that him having interaction with this young man or watching TV with him, it's nothing. I don't feel that it was anything with a negative intention behind that.
LEMON: Let me tell you what got my attention about this and I have never admitted this on television. I'm a victim of a pedophile when I was a kid -- someone who was much older than me. And those are the things that they do, the language. This doesn't make you gay if you do this.
So when someone starts to say that, you start to perk up and go -- ooh. Four people have said the same exact story and using the same buzz words. How do people come up with those stories? Did that ever cross any of your minds, Gabrielle, when you heard that four people who have come up with the same exact story who -- two of them know each other, the third one doesn't really know the other one, and the fourth one doesn't know any of them?
RICHARDS: When I look at different pedophiles, as said, I don't se bishop as one. If you look at the various things that he's done for the community and for young people in general, none of it boils down to him looking like a pedophile.
While it's remarkable that an anchor would sit up straight in the middle of an interview segment and admit to his own molestation as a child, it's equally clear that his motivation for doing it comes from his firsthand knowledge that this is something that black men do not admit as a general rule. And because they do not admit it, when four separate black men stand up and say this has happened, it's worthy of attention.
LEMON: Kevin, and as I was saying, Kevin, you're older than these guys. I've never admitted that on television and I never told my mom until I was 30 years old, especially African-American men don't want to talk about those things and don't want to admit them even if there's money involved that you may make money off of it.
KEVIN BOND, FORMER NEW BIRTH EMPLOYEE: You're telling the truth, Don. And the truth of the matter is most people don't lie when it comes to this type of thing and that's why it's so very important that the Bishop speak out and pause and the delay that it's taking for him to speak out is really causing more - making it even more troubling.
Lemon's point? You don't come out and say this even if it means you might be paid by someone looking to smear Bishop Eddie Long. You just don't, and particularly this is true in the black community.
Lemon's admission should be considered a very big deal for anyone in ANY community who still suffers in silence over the stigma of being molested. Molestation is, in my opinion, one of the deepest wounds inflicted on small children as well as teenage boys and girls. It robs them of their power to self-determine their fate. It leaves their psyche and their center locked in a dark, deep, mucky closet where it festers and burns until the anger overcomes the shame.
I really hope his example sets one for others who have or are walking in his shoes. If you're reading this and are in that situation or locked in the aftermath, please, seek help.
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