He was one of the best boxers in the world. He won titles in five different weight divisions and was the first boxer to earn more than $100 million. But for 30 years he fought a secret battle in his mind and the pain was gripping. Sugar Ray Leonard was sexually abused as a teen. This secret finally came out as he was writing his memoir. Two men, an Olympic boxing coach, and another man he describes as “a short, bald elderly white gentleman with huge lips”, were his abusers. But the freedom from these traumatic memories came when he told his story in public. “It was like freedom,” said Leonard.
Jospeh Kony is a freedom stealer. He is the notorious leader of the LRA (Lord’s Resistant Army) and is at the top of the International Criminal Courts list of worst criminals for his heinous crimes against humanity including murder, rape, sexual slavery and abductions. Kony has been abducting kids for 26 years…over 30,000 kids in total. He turns into boys into soldiers, but he turns the girls into sex slaves for his officers. These girls are ripped away from their families and forced into sexual slavery with an army that leaves nothing but death and destruction in its wake. But the war is on to catch this criminal and set the children free.
Sugar Ray Leonard’s story and Joseph Kony’s story are very different, but at their core both highlight the brutality of adults taking sexual advantage of children. It took almost 30 years for Sugar Ray to find freedom from the terrible memories of his sexual abuse. And thousands of kids are longing for their freedom from the abuses of Jospeh Kony’s LRA. Unfortunately, childhood sexual abuse happens all too often. It happens to kids from all walks of life. It’s doesn’t matter if they are rich or poor or famous. They are all potential victims.
Sexually abused kids can be very confused by what’s happening to them, and they often feel ashamed, which means the often don’t talk to their parents about it. So parents it’s your job to talk to them. Let them know which parts of their body are private, and tell them they must tell you if anyone touches them there. This sounds so simple, yet so often parents don’t have this conversations with their kids because they think they’re safe. For most parents reading this, they don’t have to worry about Joseph Kony ripping their child away from them in the middle of the night. But Joseph Kony is just a name, and you could swap that out with coach, uncle, teacher, neighbor and so on, because the person most likely to abuse your child is someone they already know. For more on preventing sexual abuse, see our related blogs here.