I was listening to the latest BS Report podcast on ESPN today, an interview done by Bill Simmons with Sugar Ray Leonard. I was aware that Ray openly discusses the sexual abuse he suffered as a child in his recent autobiography, but I hardly expected that to be a major portion of the interview.
If you want to hear that part, and don’t care much about the boxing talk, skip the first 20 minutes or so.
The interesting thing that I took away from the discussion, among a few really interesting things about the difficulty of talking about sexual abuse in a macho culture, was his description of telling his wife early in his marriage. Actually, the same scene played out in both of his marriages. He told his wife, she just stared at him, not knowing what to say, and he changed the subject, never to bring it up again.
It got me thinking that, even as a survivor myself, when people tell me about being abused, I’m not sure what to say either. I hate to think that is causing them to change the subject and never talk about it again. I hope that hasn’t ever happened, but if it has, I hope whoever it was is reading this now! 😉
So survivors, here’s your chance to let folks know, how should people respond, what should they say? Is it ok to not know what to say? For me, I think it’s ok to not know what to say, but say that. Don’t stare at me like I’m a freak, I already feel like a freak for having experienced this, and now talking about it. Just admit, you don’t know what to say, and show that you care. It goes a long, long way!