“Leaving Neverland”: Trying to put into words the power of their story

“I want to be able to speak the truth as loud as I had to speak the lie.”

Wade Robson

After watching the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland”, I can honestly say that I am feeling so many emotions and with thoughts racing through my head I simply do not know where to begin. First things first, belief in the sexual abuse survivors that speak out should have absolutely nothing to do with who the accused is. Evil comes in many shapes and takes many forms. Evil is perfected by manipulated, control, and power. Abusers will go to great lengths to get what they want, which is them continuing to abuse. A certain level of fame, wealth, social status, or any other factor does not change this. If an abuser wants something, they will fiercely protect their ability to get it. And despite the love and admiration of millions of people; that is EXACTLY what Michael Jackson did.

Let me also be clear on a subject that has fueled a feeling of deep-seeded anger within me; we rally behind women who speak out about their sexual abuse, harassment, or assault, and we must do the same for men! Discrimination has no place here.

“1 in every 4 girls and 1 in every 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18”

Next, the thought of “Well, why didn’t he just tell his parents” or “Why did he lie about it for so long” is ABSOLUTELY IRREVELANT. The victims of Michael Jackson’s abuse were children! Children who were befriended and made to feel loved by a man who was adored by nearly everyone! He used his power to abuse boys. He used his power to manipulate their families into trusting him. He used to his power to satisfy the needs of his sick, tormented desires. Children, and even many adults, are naïve to the idea that what is happening or has happened to them is in fact abuse. When children have never been educated about sexual abuse, are told that this is how we express love, and are greatly rewarded for our participation in the actions, how would that child have any foundation leading them to the thought that what is happening may be wrong. Once again, they have manipulated by their abusers into thinking that the outside world is wrong, not the abuser.

So, why did Robson lie during his testimony in two different trials regarding sexual abuse allegations against Michael Jackson? Can you imagine having to expose your deepest, darkest, scariest secret to the whole world? And have millions of die-hard fans whole-heartedly support and defend your abuser no matter the costs? NO, YOU CANNOT. You cannot imagine. It took me nearly ten years to tell my family that I was sexually assaulted as a freshman in college. It took a lot of therapy, self-reflection, pain and tears to be able to tell my story. A survivor cannot be forced into telling their truth before they are ready. It is frightening behind belief to have to say “yes, this happened to me”, because despite all the support and resources made available, there is a feeling of shame that relentlessly clings to your story.

There is so much to be said in admiration of the strength and courage of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, along with every single person who has spoken out against Michael Jackson. I support them with every fiber of my being, and I hope this story makes everyone aware of what sexual abuse truly looks like so that we can eliminate this naivety and protect our children.

Infographic reads "Every 11 minutes, child protective services substantiates, or finds evidence for, a claim of child sexual abuse.
United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. Child Maltreatment Survey, 2016 (2018)

If you or anyone you know has been affected by sexual abuse, The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7: Telephone: 800-656-HOPE (4673) or at http://www.rainn.org

1. Finkelhor, D., Hotaling, G., Lewis, I. A., & Smith, C. (1990). Sexual abuse in a national survey of adult men and women: Prevalence, characteristics and risk factors. Child Abuse & Neglect 14, 19-28. doi:10.1016/0145-2134(90)90077-7

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