It’s great days when mainstream celebrities speak publicly about difficult personal experiences that many individuals have experienced and felt isolated by.
Tyler Perry is the latest celebrity to do so, about the extremely sensitive subject of sexual abuse. He made an appearance on Oprah’s show last week to thank her for bringing the prevalence of the sexual abuse of children, and in the process opened up about the abuse he went through as a child.
Perry told Oprah incredibly personal details about his …
… abuse (you can watch the interview here). He revealed that his father emotionally and physically abused him, and that he was raped by four other adults – three males and one female – one of whom was a good friend of his mother.
While he hasn’t made an iron-clad secret in the past of his childhood abuses, he is now coming forward with this information to “lend support to others who may have experienced, or may be experiencing, childhood abuse.”
As CNN said in response to his interview:
He certainly has a big audience.
More than three million reports of child abuse are made every year in the U.S., and each report can involve more than one children, according to Childhelp, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing abuse. In 2007, approximately 5.8 million children were involved in an estimated 3.2 million child abuse reports and allegations.
Major kudos to Tyler Perry for having the courage to share such personal information on television about such an important, often hidden, issue. Many feel that they are alone in suffering from incidents of sexual abuse, and having a well-known, successful celebrity be open about going through something similar can help assuage these feelings. It also encourages other survivors to open up and spread the important message that childhood sexual abuse is all too common.
There is nothing to be gained from holding these awful experiences inside, and no message to spread to others who have suffered the same fates, if we don’t share together and heal together. I commend Tyler Perry for openly discussing his childhood experiences, and hope that it strikes a chord with people out there who still have yet to face up to the demons that sexual and physical abuse during childhood can sometimes render.