Monday, September 19, 2005

Honesty Hits a New Low: The Strange Revelations of Laveranues Coles


In an Associated Press story today, New York Jets wide receiver Laveranues Coles revealed that he was sexually abused from the ages of 10-13. That's too bad. It's an awful thing that no one should ever have to go through. Sexual abuse has far-ranging emotional consequences for all concerned, and the immediate intervention of mental health professionals is called for once the abuse is recognized.

But what I'm trying to figure out is....why is Laveranues Coles making his childhood troubles public?

The perp in question is Coles' ex-stepfather, now divorced from the football player's mother. The AP story goes on to say that "Coles' mother, Sirretta, divorced her husband when the abuse was first revealed and sought counseling for the youngster. Coles realizes that coming out with this now publicly will reopen old wounds for the family." Mrs. Coles' ex-husband, "whose name the receiver didn't want to reveal, was sentenced to nine years in a Florida prison in 1992 after pleading guilty to the infractions. He served 3 1/2 years, but was later convicted of another crime and has been in prison since 2001."

Well, if this happened years ago, and Coles, 27, received counseling, and his mother divorced the pathetic guy (who is now in jail), then, again I ask you, WHY is Coles going public? There are more than 1,500 players on NFL rosters. I'm sure many of them have some sad life stories, or unbelievable challenges they've had to overcome. Welcome to the fraternity of man. That doesn't mean we have to call a press conference. "Reopen old wounds," Laveranues? Yeah-duhhhhhhhh!

There's no dearth of sympathy for someone like Coles. If he is continuing to have emotional problems stemming from his unfortunate experiences, then he is urged to seek (or continue to seek) help. If he feels an intra-family intervention is needed, then I am sure that his therapist will be happy to arrange one. No doubt there are support groups available for him, and if he wants to go the extra mile in this situation, he could probably make a nice donation to pertinent organizations that can help him and others like him who have suffered psychic pain and confusion. Here's the advice we all drew from the film Good Will Hunting: "It's not your fault."

Perhaps if this were a newly recognized event in Coles' life, with his distressed emotional state affecting his work and causing him to take a hiatus from the NFL, then the announcement might make some sense. Otherwise, to me, it just looks like another case of sports egomania run wild.

Again, I can't stress enough how serious the issue of sexual abuse is. There isn't a right-thinking person in the world who wouldn't hope and pray for Coles' coming to terms and coming to grips with his past. Whatever effects the abuse had on him, it hasn't prevented him from achieving a lot as a pro athlete. He has that to build on, and he has access to first-rate care.

So please, Laveranues, get the help you need. Turn inward to your family, and responsibly deal with these issues with professional assistance. Have courage to face the truth, and we have no doubt you'll come out stronger on the other end.

But in the future: Don't call a press conference. It's tacky, self-centered and wholly unnecessary.

Just think, Coles could've spent that time volunteering at a home for youngsters with emotional difficulties. Instead, he's talking to the press about something that happened more than 15 years ago, and for which his mother arranged counseling at the time. Plus, the criminal element in question--a former relative, no less--is behind bars.

Sorry. I just don't get it.

19 comments:

Christopher Evans said...

This comment makes sense coming from someone who has not experienced what Cole has. If one little boy is having to deal with what Cole has and finds the courage to tell a responsible adult, his "press conference" was worth it. I'm sure if your loved one, mother, sister, brother or anyone that you loved had the same experience, you would not have the nerve to tell them to get over it.

Martin Brady said...

Well, I'm certainly not telling Coles to "get over it" at all. I'm urging his continued treatment, that's for sure. Let's just say I can't help but be skeptical about his motives. Did he wake up one morning and think, "Hey, I can help kids all over the world by coming out about my child-abuse experience..."? Maybe. But this is the guy who demanded a trade from the Redskins because he didn't like the offense. Translation: He wasn't getting the ball in a spectacular enough way. I hope Coles' motives were pure. I'm just not sure they were.

Thanks for writing with a good point.

Anonymous said...

Until you have walked a mile in his shoes.....you shouldn't pass judgement. What his motives are... who knows. We can only take it for what it is worth, and hope that it helps someone come from under their own personally prison. We all have motives, we just can't all call a press conferance to announce them.
That takes a lot of courage to reveal something as embarrassing as being sexually abused, even more so to be in the public eye. Can you imagine the taunts that are still aflicted on him on the football field.

barbie said...

Little boys all over the nation experience the same tragics every night and they need to know they are not alone. The same question you ask can be asked of the little boys who spoke up about the catholic priest who raped little boys for years and went unpunished. They told the truth and nothing was done. THe priest was free to hurt others.

Anonymous said...

I AM SO GLAD HE TOLD THE WORLD, I TOO AM AN ADULT SURVIOR OF INCEST. I AS A CHILD WENT TO MY MOTHER WHO TOOK THE SIDE OF THE MOLESTOR AND SAID SHE DID NOT BELIEVE HE WOULD DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT. FROM THAT POINT ON I FELT THAT IT WAS JUST ME AND GOD IN THE WORLD. I WAS MOLESTED OVER A THREE YEAR PERIOD AS WELL UNTIL I BECAME OLD ENOUGH AND STRONG ENOUGH TO FIGHT THE BASTARD OFF. I AM ALMOST A FIFTY YEAR OLD WOMAN AND IT STILL STAYS ON MY MIND. THE BEST THING ABOUT COLE IS THAT HE NO LONGER SEES HIS ABUSER. MY ABUSER WAS MY OLDER BROTHER, THEREFORE, I SEE HIM FROM TIME TO TIME, BUT BECAUSE MY MOTHER DID NOT PROTECT ME EVEN AFTER I TOLD HER OF THE ABUSE, IF I KNOW IN ADVANCE THAT HES COMING TO A FAMILY FUNCTION, I STAY THE HELL AWAY.

UNLESS YOU HAVE BEEN ABUSE SEXUALLY YOU SHOULD NOT SPEAK ON THIS SUBJECT.

A LONGTIME SURVIVOR.

Anonymous said...

Martin you OBVIOUSLY have led a charmed and perfect childhood so you wouldn't understand someone need to vent and have closure to a horrible situation that happened in their childhood. Also, you OBVIOUSLY don't have empathy and compassion. In this twisted society that we live, people look up to sports stars and consider them role models way before their teachers and parents. Just maybe if an average Joe can relate to Coles' story and not feel alone it will help them. But you just don't get it as you mentioned. Who's the selfish one now?

Anonymous said...

I recently saw Mr. Coles' interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show and was deeply moved. Although I have never experience sexual abuse, I felt compassion for him. I was a little stunned by your comments. By Mr. Cole going public, who knows how many countless other young boys and men will be helped by his one act of courage.

monica taylor said...

Monica Taylor
How dare you say this man has a hidden motive as to why he came forward regarding what happened to him as a child. You have to be the MOST Ignorant person in the world, you and anyone else who feels the same. Why does it matter that he waited 15 or 30yrs to tell his story? The only thing that matters is he is trying to help other kids understand that they are not alone and its ok to tell someone. Mr. Cole is also showing today's youth that no matter what you have gone through in your life, you can over come it and make something of yourself. He is a a very strong and honest young man that needs to be applauded for his story. There is no reason to question his motive for telling his story. I believe that his story has help a number of people to come forward regarding their own abuse.

Anonymous said...

Half of the pain is living in silence. Half of the pain is the shame. He spoke out because he is taking charge. He did absolutely nothing wrong as a child, and for that reason should not feel shame. If you don't speak about what happened to you as a child, you sometimes feel guilty. I never speak about it because I am ashamed. I wish I had the courage to do so. I know that the more we speak out about what we went through, the more we rid ourselves of the shame we inherited from the actions of others. The rapists should carry the shame, not the victim. It's a way to take control of your life and target pedophiles and rapists. there's no shame in reaching out and trying to help others. I hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Laveranues Coles has the courage that so many of us do not. Many victims do not speak out about sexual abuse, especially when being preyed upon while one is the most vulnerable...during one's childhood. Then, later in life when we do finally come to terms with it...shame keeps us from discussing or speaking out on such a "taboo" issue.

There are not many "famous" people that I can say that I view as role models. The media is so quick to feed us information on celebrities that are engaging in destructive behavior. Lavernues has my utmost respect for using the media to speak out on such an important issue. His courage can help others to speak out and seek help. Isn't it more honorable to use the media to help improve society/lives...bring hope.

Anonymous said...

I am absolutely disgusted with you Martin Brady. For you to de-value a person's life story like that and turn it into some publicity act? You should be completely and utterly ashamed of yourself. This isnt about his football career. This is about a man who stood up against a huge obstacle and has just encouraged and put hope in many abused childrens hearts. I think you are so low of a person to turn this great story into your own personal publicity stunt. Unfortunately, nobody will remember you.

Anonymous said...

I watch the player on Oprah and then I read your article. I think you are a huge Jerk and you need to seek counseling to get over that.

Anonymous said...

wow! amazing how anyone could "not get it" to this degree. i'll leave it at that. please try to get a clue, if that is at all possible.

Natalie Waterman said...

I am really flabergasted at what has been written. How could anyone not understand why Coles did what he did? Apparently Coles is seeing his past as a way to minister in the Spiritual sense. If calling a press conference or whatever can save a child from going through the same situation day after day then so be it. I am really excited that Coles spoke up because he is getting out of the box that America and you have put people in for so long. If he would have woorried about what you or anyone else would have said then this would have never happend and of course, instead of him taking control of his life and destiny, you would be the one in control. Now do you want to control what the world does and says??? If so become the president and put into play that anyone with a problem or situation are not to speak out but to die daily with shame and guilt. What if this was you, would you want your voice to be heard?? Coles exposed the enemy and now he has to flee. And I pray that at least one child has spoken up about their situation because of a man like Coles.
~N. Waterman

Shannon said...

As a person who has been sexual abused by her stepfather, I am greatful that Mr. Coles spoke out. It is therapeutic, to not take the blame for what happen to you as a child. When you say it out loud, you release the blame and shame. By telling the world, you are letting other mothers know the possiblities of what is out there. I wish my mother watched someone like Mr. Coles speak out when it was happening to me. I know that although some may question his reasonings, he is doing what is right for him. Maybe one less child will be sexually abused. Thank you Mr. Coles.

Anonymous said...

I just watched a recent rerun of the Oprah show and as I am not a huge NFL fan or familiar with Cole this was all new to me. I have stumbled onto your article after this and you should consider yourself a very disrespectful, uncaring person. Fortunately my parents never divorced and both were great parents so I have never been exposed to such a horrible situation. BUT I can still say that your are nothing more than dumb and anyone would know that sharing this story would not open wounds because these kind of wounds rarely ever heal. I hope that in the two years that have passed since you wrote this that you realize your stupidity.

Wonderland Director said...

I cannot guess why Mr. Coles chose now to hold the press conference but I'm glad he did; does it really matter what his motives are? This issue is extremely important! As more high profile people come forward our young men and women who have been sexually abused will not feel alone and hopefully feel less shame and heal. I grew up in a family with incest and it is very difficult. It profoundly affected my life. Anyone who has the courage to speak out and share their story is a hero in my eyes. Thank you Mr. Coles. Thank you Mr. Brady, your narrow mindedness may keep Mr. Coles story alive in the media a little longer!

saint james said...

This man's life is not a novel or movie that you need to understand or get. It's realy irrelevant whether you understand it or not. Mr. Coles is doing what he fells will empower other boys which may be experiencing what he has been through. YOu sound like an idiot. Why did you blog on this sunbect? I don't get it

Anonymous said...

I'm hoping that he will agree to come out again as a Cincinnati non profit has a need to have a strong regional male spokesperson showcase why people should speak up and talk about saying something as soon as possible! It is not the survivor's fault and as soon as the victim realizes that, the better, no matter the timing!
Laveranues realizes that and the rest of the world should support him in this decision!
I'm proud of him and thank him for coming out the way he did for all of us who have hidden away for too long!