Sunday, 11 November 2018

The dark and disturbing truth of 'uncles' in the black community

Black women have been given the role of their brother's keepers and in doing so, have been forced to keep the deepest, darkest secrets of their sexual abuse and paedophilia which often go hand-in-hand.

What’s incredibly consistent within the black African community, in particular, is the stigmatization of freedom of speech for women. From a young age, our voices were impounded to not express our discomfort or our dislike, but to accept and adjust.

Whilst we were told it was our duty as a woman to be silent and objective our male counterparts were told to speak up and explore their likes and dislikes. This is something I particularly think has been a problem in heterosexual relationships.

While the male can express his sadness and struggle with depression the woman will be hesitant in expressing her sadness and depression because she has grown up being told her sadness will not matter that of a male.

The result of this is the outstanding statistics that reveal the truth behind these silenced voices.

One in four black girls will be sexually abused before the age of 18 - Stone, R.D., No Secrets, No Lies: How Black Families Can Heal from Sexual Abuse, 2004.

For every black woman who reports a rape, at least 15 do not report - Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2009.

Sixty per cent of black girls have experienced sexual abuse at the hands of black men before reaching the age of 18, according to an ongoing study conducted by Black Women’s Blueprint.

Above all, statistics from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, tell us black women are less likely to report their rape.

This bought me to this topic. Why? You ask? Personal experience. Deep routed trauma and conversations with my friends have led me to conclude HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM!

The facts scream nine out of 10 black women have been through this abuse and a large number will still not report their abuse out fear, shame and confusion.

Today dear girls, we will be discussing the creepy “uncles” that have latched themselves to our families, drank with our fathers, smiled in our mother's faces whilst they groomed, sexually abused and touched us inappropriately.

We didn’t say anything because of the hierarchy of the African family. This pyramid that places fathers, brothers and uncles at the top whilst mother, sisters and aunts are placed at the bottom.
If we are to speak out, we risk embarrassing our parents and families.

For some, the small or large Christian denomination you belong to will talk and when they do, this could be a Scarlett letter of shame on your name and your family.

What if, just what if, the traditional African family didn't favour and sidemen and instead recognised and accepted the responsibility of protecting the black woman instead chastising us and blaming us for the misconduct of our greasy “uncles”.

I say, “uncles” loosely because very often and in this particular case the predator had no relation to the victim. The victim only knew this predator because he was always introduced as ....yes *ding ding ding!* ‘“THE UNCLE”.

On this particular day, the victim - who we will call Ruva for the sake of anonymity - was 15. At 15, Ruva’s knowledge of males fell into the box of Disney Channel crushes and awkward teenagers who didn't pay the brace-faced 15-year-old much attention. On this particular day, Ruva had been invited to her “uncles” birthday party at his home.

For any typical family party, the party will break off into sub-cultures. The children, the mothers - who will have babies and smaller children upstairs and the teenagers who are stealing alcohol from the kitchen and father and uncles often outside at the bbq.

Ruva was a part of these teenagers, and to her first introduction to alcohol, something she’d later see was used as a tool of predatory acts that occurred that night.

As the night came to an end, Ruva’s abuse came in the form of a dance move. Her uncle touched her inappropriately and whilst doing so poured Bells Whisky into the girl's cups, something Ruva was forcing herself to act oblivious of.

“Your mum would kill me if she knew.”

The words that stuck with Ruva, the confession. “Uncle” knew what he had done, but did he know just how detrimental his actions where?

Ruva avoided his house at all costs, but reality always seemed to catch up with her when she’d be forced to stiffly greet him at family events. The strength of Ruva’s naivety meant she looked to a family member for answers as to why that would happen to her.


Victim blaming and shaming. This person may not have known it, but their blame on Ruva’s actions lead to years of silence, insecurity in a relationship and an undisclosed fear of being alone with a male family member who wasn't immediate family.

As Ruva grew to learn the ins and outs of the male species she suffered heartbreak, what she thought was love and ground shaking passion for a male. She admits that not even her complete obsession with this man could allow her to disclose what happened that evening.

“Why don't you tell me anything?” he said, as he began the conversation on why we needed to end things. It is not the job of the partner to fix your deepest problems, but men should acknowledge the actions of their brothers that have led to a woman’s relationship insecurities - as to alluding their behaviour is a product of our hormones.

I always admire women of colour who have been open about this taboo subject; The great Oprah Winfrey who was groomed and raped as a child.

My personal hero; Eartha Kitt, who during her time on the planet was open about her being conceived from rape.

Youtuber, Sincerely Oghosa speaks of her sexual abuse and how it led to a porn addiction. Oghosa was saved by her Christian faith and through this, has been able to share her story with her viewers.

These are the women who have survived their shackles of silence to help and melanin queens of our time to overcome and better educate us on our worth.

Who do we blame?

Now, don't get me wrong I will not point the finger at all men. I have eight black kings for brothers who protect and keep me in the best possible way, but it is the duty of them and many others to ensure this culture does not continue.

The culture has manifested into abuse and has been partnered with a hush mentality that is destructive.

When talking to a previous (sort of) boyfriend of African descent, I asked him what he knew on the topic. He said he knew of his cousins who have had a similar experience “it makes me so protective of my kids.”

A similar conversation with another black male revealed to me that black males know exactly what's going on, but again just like the family member Ruva chose to confide in the fear of “people will talk” has overpowered the power of the truth behind “Uncles” antics.

I’m outraged by the normalisation of these actions and how the silence has therefore normalised paedophilia and sexual abuse.

My final thoughts on this subject are how this will continue to send the so-called “culture” backwards. If someone is being abused, they should have a freedom of expression where they won't be judged by their own family on how it will look on their name.

They should not have to be confronted by their abusers and they should not force their victims into a vow of silence that could effectively alter the way women like Ruva behave in relationships and everyday life around men.

I’d like to thank and salute Ruva for sharing her story.

Written by VavaViolet’s writer Thandi Beverley M. Sibanda.



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