Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and many things lead to someone taking their lives. Suicide rates for U.S. teens and young adults are the highest on record. One issue in our community that is not talked enough about is sexual abuse and many times this can lead to depression, which can lead to suicide.
During early Summer of this year, three months into the pandemic that swept the world and at the height of civil unrest, a trend began on social media, more specifically on Twitter. Without any context, users of the popular site began their posts with “I was” and then added their age. As days went by, I began to notice the trend more and more, with the ages reaching down to 12 years old. Finally, I wanted to look into why I kept seeing these posts on my timeline, being liked or retweeted. What I found was that people who made these posts were coming out about being victims of sexual abuse. These posts were published by not just white people but Black and Hispanics as well. Some were boys who are now men and some were girls who are now women. Sharing spans across a spectrum.
I was shocked by how many Black men shared their ages. On the heels of a friend sharing their story on Facebook just weeks prior, and with news of Rapper Lil’ Boosie speaking about having strippers perform sexual acts on his young son and nephews, I thought to myself, who is speaking out about the sexual abuse of young Black boys? And if someone is speaking out about it, are they speaking loud enough?
According to statistics, 1 out of every 6 boys is abused before the age of 16. This rate is even higher in Black communities, especially communities that suffer from systemic and sociological problems. Shame, guilt, and being birthed into a toxic masculine driven world, shows the double-edged sword Black boys and men face with being able to be open and accepting of what happened to them. If an older man was the abuser, the abused would have to deal with people who