Like Eddie Long my uncle did many great things in the name of God. He also sexually abused me from the age of 7 to 16. When he died I didn't mourn at all, I celebrated. Finally, I felt God answered my prayers.
My uncle was very much two different people. He was a loving husband, devoted father, a Pastor who loved the Lord and touched a lot of lives. At his funeral I sat in amazement as people recounted all the good he had done throughout his lifetime. He started a job fair in our community that kept many who would have been unemployed, employed. He paid off a woman's mortgage who was about to lose her home to predatory lending. He purchased cars for members who needed to get to work, and visited elderly members who were sick with no family. He helped many of those with addiction and drug abuse issues find their way back to the right path. He fed the hungry weekly through a food bank he set up through the church and was a key investor in numerous low income housing projects that allowed many to own homes for the first time.
He paid for my college education along with all of my cousin's and purchased us all our first vehicles and gave us all a nice chunk of money upon graduation.
None of that meant anything to me however because he ruined my life. I never saw him as this "good man" everyone referred to because nothing he could have done before or after he violated me would fill the pain he caused. He used his power, influence and religion to prey on someone defenseless against him.
Like many victims of sexual abuse from a " good, God fearing man, I was the one who was persecuted by my family when I spoke out. I was called a liar, among other insults and told it was something I needed to get over. "How could I bring it up now?" "You must be mad about not getting your way " "Look at all the 'good' he's done" Anytime I wanted to talk about it, it always seemed like the wrong time to mention it. When he died and I mentioned his transgressions I was told like many who have spoken ill of Eddie Long today "Now is not the time" "None of us can judge" "I don't care what anyone says about him, he was a good man" "He helped save souls " But what about my soul? What about what he did to me?
I carry around the memories of when he would rape me on Saturday night and get up and preach against homosexuality and adultry on Sunday morning. I carry with me the memories of him saying if I told anyone I would be sent back to foster care. I carry with me the memories of going to school bleeding from my rectum, hiding bruises and then hearing everyone praise him for all the "good" he did. I had difficulties as an adult trusting anyone. I suffered from depression, anxiety and PTSD as a result of his abuse. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night terrified he's about to enter my room. I was never the same, but he got to carry on with his life as I struggled to put mine back together.
When my uncle died I didn't mourn for him, I mourned my childhood, I mourn Eddie Long's victims lives. We all died a long time ago.