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Actor and Survivor Hosea Chanchez Speaks Out Against Sexual Abuse

Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse

Last month, actor and director Hosea Chanchez shared a powerful post on instagram describing his childhood sexual abuse by a trusted adult. In his shocking revelation, Chanchez explains how his abuser hid behind hyper-masculinity, preyed on Chanchez's vulnerabilities as a child without a father figure, and secured Chanchez's silence with threats. He ends his post by expressing hope that his post will help “parents and young children become aware of some of the signs and better protect themselves from sexual predators." Chanchez's path to healing was undoubtedly a painful one; shame, self-blame, fear and denial are common reactions to sexual abuse. Ultimately, his story of survival challenges societal assumptions of sexual abuse survivors and forces America to console some of its most neglected children: Black boys.

The media typically presents female sexual abuse survivors despite the fact that approximately1 in 6 Black men have been sexually abused or assaulted. Generally speaking, cultural myths and social stigmas complicate the experiences of male survivors of sexual abuse. Black male survivors of sexual abuse, however, must also deal with systemic anti-black racism in the form of racist stereotypes that undermine their credibility as victims, contentious relations with law enforcement and socioeconomic barriers to mental health treatment. For instance, Black boys and men have been historically stereotyped as hypersexual beings. These false portrayals can be traced back to slavery when Black male slaves were being routinely sexually victimized. Similarly, Black boys and men continue to experience widespread sexual abuse and their voices continue to be silenced by societal messages labeling them as perpetrators of violence and their sexual abuse as rites of passage.

Unresolved sexual traumas frequently compromise the mental health of survivors and their quality of life. According to research, many Black boys report having their first sexual encounter with an adult woman at ages as young as nine. This is the text book definition of childhood sexual abuse. Yet, when have we heard a public outcry for protecting Black boys from molestation and ensuring they receive appropriate mental heath care? Instead, we hear celebrities like Lil' Wayne, DeRay Davis and Tech Nine brag about “having sex” (read: being raped) by women as children.

The feelings and experiences of Black boys and men are valid. Contrary to misconceptions they can and are subjected to sexual violence. Given that survivors of sexual abuse experience an increased risk of developing depression, substance use disorders and PTSD, it is necessary to remove the stigma and culture of silence around the sexual abuse of Black boys and men. Hosea Chanchez, Common, Tyler Perry and Terry Crews are ending this silence by speaking about their sexual abuse. As a society, we can do our part by believing and supporting all survivors.

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