For the last few days, I have attempted to ignore the quote that I read which said, “You may have to go through with that trial, and you may feel all alone when you’re on that witness stand, but just know that there are millions of young boys and grown men who are standing with you—including me.”
When I read the full letter, he continues, “If every man who has ever been molested would speak up, you would see that we’re all around you. You may not know all of our faces and names, but my prayer is that you feel our strength holding you up. You will get through this; you’ve already endured the worst part at age 11. Now fight on, my young friend, fight on! We are all with you.”
Tyler Perry’s Open Letter:
As someone who is a victor of child sexual abuse I have not been able to take my mind off of this letter. I have my own questions.
My first question was, how did the media get the letter? And then I found out that Perry gave it to them hence, “Open Letter“.
Tyler Perry‘s Letter to his Younger Self
I am up in arms with the idea that this letter was given to the media. This is a very personal battle, and while Perry aimed to show love and support to this child- his fame and fortune could have gotten him a face to face with the child accompanied by the child’s parents to express his remorse, and to offer strength. His open letter makes me think that this is manipulation and I’ll explain my point below.
I’m extremely uncomfortable with the very last paragraph of the letter which is telling the victim what his position, or next action should be. I am not saying he should not testify. I am however saying that he should have “The Power of Saying, NO!”
I speak on this with great sensitivity because I believe that the open letter was some form of Tyler Perry’s “Letter to my Younger Self”. I think he said what he wish he could’ve done, and isn’t that part of why we write letters to our younger selves? It is a way to take assessment of the decisions we made, and to accept responsibility for our true selves while making peace with the past.
My Letter to my Younger Self would have certainly made me do things differently.
Perry’s mentions of the eleven year old’s bravery for example, is something that Perry may have written in his Letter to his Younger Self as a regret- or encouragement to indeed testify.
Although Perry’s somewhat motivational speech to the young boy was more than likely written in good faith, I question whether it is a form of manipulation. As I read the first line, of the last paragraph, I almost threw up. I became overwhelmed with the amount of pressure that Perry put on this eleven year old to recount before a jury, and his hunter, the details of his abuse.
Tyler Perry never sat on a stand, and I feel like his letter was a coercion to pressure the young boy to follow through because he admittedly was not strong enough too.
I have experienced sexual assault and abuse, and I could not stomach the idea of sitting on a stand, being dissected and reliving some of the horrific things that have altered my life. As you read in my memoir, Identity Crisis, Identity Christ Is: A Journey to Love which is available online at most bookstores, Amazon and www.identitycrisisbook.com , you discover that I did indeed write a letter for the first incident that happened to me- and it was used to send the predator to jail.
Taking the stand is brave and it is also this child’s decision. The court prosecutors have the responsibility to get the testimony of the child in the best legal way possible. However, I put the responsibility on the court and the parents to protect this child from further trauma by giving the child an opportunity to decide how he will submit his testimony as evidence.
I know that Tyler Perry is wealthy, and famous- I get it! Tyler also has no more appropriate authority than any of us to call to action an abused child, whose business is on the front of every news stand, online hot topic, and social network to testify than you or I.
I don’t want to get Tyler in trouble but I was under the impression that it is illegal to ask someone or entice someone to proceed with or dismiss charges in a court of law. These laws are put in place so that the victim, or plaintiff has the ability to make an informed, meditated, sole decision.
Prosecuting Perry, if I’m right would be a horrible idea because it was retraumatize him, as this “open letter”, gives Perry a voice. I am pretty confident that he didn’t realize what he did that could have been questionable in the letter.
Tyler Perry Healing
In the open letter written by Tyler Perry, I believe that his intentions were good, but that the letter was more for his therapeutic benefit than the support of the child. Even I want to congratulate this child for speaking up, but I’m also careful- and here’s why:
A child coming forward about their abuse should not be shocking or news worthy, it should be the standard. This traumatized child is reliving the incidents over and over again because it is a high profile case. He is not given the time to heal, and may not for a long time. It took me until the release of my book, and my mother saying, “I have no idea that what happened to you affected your whole life”, for me to see just how contaminated my heart was with the past.
He will have Joe Paterno haters that victim blame. Victims like Perry who celebrate his coming forward to say,” I have the Power to say NO!”, which is one of the Ten Ways to Safeguard your Child from Sexual Abuse that I teach around the country, are actually not helping him to put this situation behind him. He is not able to put his experience into remission at all.
Like For Colored Girls, which I have expressed great disappointment for, as an unfinished work- I feel that this letter is too unfinished. Despite his goodwill efforts in stating that many victims kill themselves, become addicted to drugs or end up in jail but not he, I would have felt like he was just giving me a good idea.
I believe that Tyler Perry is going through his own confrontation with child sexual abuse, and healing. I’d like to personally see him take a little time off before making another film, or adding a new project to his palette.
In the meantime Tyler, no more letters to young boys- it adds pressure. Instead of the boy reading what you’ve written in your letter- his comprehension will be that the whole world is depending on him to get justice for all by his testimony. He by understanding will feel like he will be blamed if he doesn’t cooperate with your expectations, or the hope of men and boys everywhere. He by default will not feel supported or protected rather, check mated.
In my own few words to the young boy, I’m proud you for using your “Power to Say No!” voice. The abuse happened but you took back your power when you recognized that something was wrong and refused silence.
I applaud your parents for lending their full support and protection. Whether you testify or not, you’re still triumphant, he’s still a predator, and you are no less credible or strong than when you told the truth in the first place. Follow your spirit- and only do what God says to do. Allow your inner voice to guide you. If you choose not to testify on January 11, 2012, make sure you let the Prosecutors and your Parents know in advance so that they can arm you with options to submit your testimony to be used as evidence.
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Bonus Blog: The Bible and Child Sexual Abuse
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