Laveranues Coles is the guest on today's Oprah. The New York Jets wide receiver details years of sexual abuse as a child by his former stepfather. It's a significant story, first reported by the The New York Times last month and well outside the norm for sports and the NFL where players rarely expose potentially embarrassing stories about their past. Laveranues' motivation was quite simple; the baller says that he came forward because he doesn't want other young boys to suffer in silence.
Highlights, more captures, video clips and a few spoilers below.
Laveranues said that his stepfather raped him almost daily from aged 10 to 13. It affected his grades, behavior and relationships with almost everyone in his life—and he still carries the weight. "It's among the reasons why I am not married or have a girlfriend. I don't know does someone want to be with me after everything that I've been through." Awww.
He also says that the abuse made him question his sexuality, but the most important factor being that he "wasn't being allowed to decide" for himself. But more importantly, his words were guarded and he chose to equate his stepfather's behavior with power and dominance, as opposed to sexuality. "He probably would have done the same thing to a little girl."
The abuse came to light when he was 13 years old, after the stepfather told Laveranues friends' that the boy was gay. (That's why psychiatrists call projecting, right?) "I didn't understand why he was telling people this, why he was doing these things to me and then making up stories." He got into several fights at school, and later admitted the truth to school officials and police officers.
Laveranues' mother, Sirreta Willaims, was also a guest on the show. She was called to the school that day and counselors revealed the truth. The stepfather was taken away, he served time in prison, and mom and son shuttled from relative to relative. Laveranues says that he forced himself to excel and athletics and his studies to re-assert control over his life.
One interesting exchange between Oprah and the mother was on the couple's sex life, and it went just a little left field. Oprah asked in rapid-fire: "So you and your husband were having sex? Was he being satisfied? So you had no reason to think he would go elsewhere?" Obviously, she was trying to establish that the husband appeared "normal", but that interaction could have been phrased better. But we understand where she was trying to go; its a testament to O's strength that people are comfortable with her and will answer those questions. No questions were asked about the ball player's sex life.
The baller says that until now, he and his mom have never spoken about the abuse. It's not that she didn't care; Ms. Williams says that she believed that she had utterly failed her son and could not help him heal. That's fairly common in abuse situations to try to bury the past; a psychiatrist was on hand to walk them through their emotions and promised follow-up. Their story was so touching, you almost wanted to reach through the television and give him a big hug.
The Malcontent—which always has interesting multimedia content—has two clips of the show here.
A few postscripts:
- You'll notice that there is now an Oprah category.
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