What I Learned from Keyon Dooling

Today’s Katie’s Crew Blogger

After today’s show on “Confronting a Dark Past,” blogger Joanna Dreifus shares why communication is the key to keeping our children safe.

We all have skeletons in our closets; Things in our past that we stuff away and try to forget. Some of this baggage is small, some is over-sized, but no matter what, eventually the truth comes out.

On “Confronting A Dark Past,” we met two people who could no longer hide from traumas they experienced during childhood. The first guest was Kim Wohlert, a woman whose mother forced her to help in the murder of Kim’s stepfather back in 1980. At the time, Kim was only 12-years-old and was forced to keep the secret under threats that she would be sent to jail. Kim carried the burden with her for years, until she finally turned her mother in. Kim’s mother was eventually convicted and is now in prison.

As a mother, I cannot imagine placing a burden this big on my children. I spend every day trying to make their lives as comfortable as possible. For Kim, I cannot imagine carrying a burden like this as a pre-teen. Life is hard enough for a teenager under “normal” circumstances, but for a child like Kim who had to bear this secret all through her formative years, it’s hard to imagine how she kept it together at all!

My own kids have been through enough “stuff” at a young age, though nothing that even compares to this. Nevertheless, through all of our “stuff,” I’ve always attempted to shield them from the bad parts. It’s a shame that Kim’s mother didn’t have the same philosophy.

He hopes to bring more awareness to this important issue, and to de-stigmatize the shame that many survivors feel.

NBA star Keyon Dooling was also on the show to talk about the sexual abuse he experienced as a child, starting at just five-years-old. Keyon decided to speak out in order to help break the “code of silence” about male childhood sexual abuse, particularly in the African American community. He kept this secret for decades, not even his childhood sweetheart wife knew. He hopes to bring more awareness to this important issue, and to de-stigmatize the shame that many survivors feel.

Keyon and his wife have four beautiful, young children, and I was very moved by his honesty with them. He shared how he told each of them, in an age-appropriate way, about his childhood sexual abuse. As parents, this is such a difficult subject, but it’s an extremely important conversation to have with our children. Letting them know about keeping parts of their body “private” and about “OK” and “not OK” touches, means the difference between a great childhood and a loss of innocence.

Keyon didn’t have these discussions with his parents, and I think we can all learn something from his experience. It underscores how important it is to be open with your children about these issues, so that they can identify if something inappropriate is happening to them.

This show really made me think about how my actions can directly affect my children’s future. I can’t shield them from everything, but I can do my part in keeping them safe. Without a doubt, they will grow up with their own baggage. I’m just doing my part to keep it carry-on sized.

What did you learn from Kim and Keyon's stories?