The demon Oprah Winfrey wrestled with for 12 years: the culture of rape and silence among Black women

June 20, 2019 at 02:00 pm | Opinions & Features

Nii Ashaley Asé Ashiley

Nii Ashaley Asé Ashiley | Contributor

June 20, 2019 at 02:00 pm | Opinions & Features

Oprah Winfrey

“When you are sexually violated, it is not the physical act that destroys you. It’s the weight of the secret you feel you have to keep, the person you have to become so no one will discover what you are hiding.” – Oprah Winfrey.

“…a 19-year-old cousin raped me…and convinced me not to tell…and for 12 years, I didn’t tell” said Oprah Winfrey, most certainly assuming the status of a victimized seductress and the position of a guilty temptress.

There has always been the tendency for victims of rape to remain silent about their predicament for the fears of; betraying the known relative of a culprit whose perceived image would be tarnished when the truth is set free and the stigma and shame associated with losing the virgin crown of one’s femininity in a not-so-honourable way. Victims of rape must, however, bear in mind at all times that; the perpetrators of the sexual crime directed at them lost their ‘image’ whatever they may be, the very moment they lost their control in choosing the reptilian path of forcibly seizing an opportunistic hold on another’s vulnerability and that the only stigma there ever is, is the one we confer on ourselves.

In African communities, especially where ‘Authoritarianism’ rules as the predominant parenting style, it is extremely difficult for young black girls and women who have been traumatized as victims of someone’s sexual escapade to say something to anyone. For such a parenting style demands the child’s presence and not her voice. So there always is a tendency for such precious black girls and women to be abused over and over again without any parent and/or guardian knowing about it. In situations like this; the empathic and sympathetic energies of our right brains must move us to inquire; what happens to the emotional and psychological balance of such people?

In schools, they ‘act out’, and end up dropping out. Others seek solace in drugs and abusive behaviour from abusive partners which tend to be their interpretation of love and affection; the deathly degenerative result of acting normal under a dense psychological burden. They become an act, usually an unauthentic broken act.

Given the degree of ‘advancement’ humanity as a whole has been purported to attain by virtue of the preponderance of technology and banks, why are we still caught up in the vicious paradigm that objectifies women, and women of colour especially? There is probable cause and ample conventional evidence to purport that; the protective laws whose just fist must fight for the interest of all aggrieved persons are still shackled in the bowels of Jim Crowism given our African-American queens.

A study reported that; for every 15 Black women who are raped, only 1 muster the courage to report their case, and also victims of rape are predominantly women of colour as compared to their white counterparts. It is self-evident therefore that a neutral atmosphere of redress and perquisite justice is missing from our communities given those innocent Black girls and women who are subjected by sheer brute force or trickery to the lowly dungeons of sexual molestation, and the subsequent abuses ensuing from them.

These turn of events however further plunge our communities into a ‘rabbit hole’ so to speak. Young girls and women who by virtue of the style of parenting within African communities do not reach out for help usually resort to running away from home or committing suicide; for these are the only logical conclusions to their grief-laden premises.

Those African-American women and girls who get locked up in prisons for unruly behavior are also being unduly judged by a judgmental operating mechanism which is in actual fact a subsidiary of a society whose operating systems are not person-centred and thus in effect, not tailored to the individualised needs of all persons who form the larger group of a collective-individuality called society.

It is okay to turn to a trusted friend, relative, elder or authority representative to speak of your abuse as an individual, the duty lies with you. For the memories, flashbacks, and all those negative emotions that tend to accompany them are deathly and extremely degenerative of one’s personality and inner peace.

Basic psychology purports that what we perpetually do, we become. Of the things we do; they are not only limited to behaviours arising from gestures, but they also encapsulate the thoughts we think. Such that if one repeatedly thinks self-deprecating thoughts due to some adverse happenstance in the past, one is bound to become a product of one’s mental habit.

Black women and girls must open up and speak up to release themselves from their emotional entanglements, it is the first duty they owe to themselves, and it is an honourable one indeed. The silence will only feed into the vicious paradox of the sexual molestation and the abuses stemming from such acts predominant among girls and women of colour.

“…it was a very long time before I realized how my life had changed, how in one instant I was no longer a child…” ­– Oprah Winfrey.

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