Close your eyes and imagine yourself as a child trapped not just physically but emotionally and mentally in a cramped closet where the only light that shines through comes from the door's frail wooden shingles. The claustrophobic, tiny space makes you nearly pass out as you choke on your own fear. Despite the fear and awfulness, within this space you are seduced. Accustomed to neglect and even violence from those who are supposed to protect you, this attention, this touching that you know deep inside is wrong, somehow begins to feel like love.
Millions of children have been (and are being)manipulated and coerced into sexual relationships--in many instances by people they know, trust, and look to for guidance. The front page news items involving Pastor Eddie Long and Penn State football Coach Jerry Sandusky are only a peek into a problem of epidemic proportions. It has become a cycle of silence that society has taught us to sweep under the rug unless we're forced to deal with it within our own homes.
According to ChildHelp.org, approximately 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by the age of 16.
At last, the silence is being broken like never before. . .
Editors and agents alike dream about finding that "diamond in the rough", a moving and powerful story that tugs on the heart strings and, at the same time, brings out the humanity of all who read it.
Muted Dreams, a hard-hitting, coming-of-age memoir written by my client Antonio Brown,is a raw but cathartic story about how a young man learned to break away from the dysfunction and abuse in his family, where he was sexually molested, verbally and physically abused.
Antonio Brown was born in New York City in 1985, but he spent most of his childhood in suburban, Houston, where his parent's shady business deals led them to serving consecutive 4 1/2 year prison terms. At age 12, he was mixing baby formula for his infant sister, who was born while his mother was incarcerated, and caring for his other three younger siblings, all the while trying to make sense of his father's drug use, verbal outbursts, infidelity, and staunch Jehovah's Witness beliefs.
Despite the overwhelming odds against him, the cloud of dysfunction and abuse that hovered over his young life, Antonio Brown found the courage to stand on his own and leave everything he came to love and know in Texas. Determined and driven to find success despite his haunting past, Antonio became a successful music promoter and entrepreneur, working with top tier celebrities.
Antonio Brown has spent the last five years writing his life story and building a strong national platform with the hope that it will help other child sexual abuse victims break their silence and begin the process of healing. During this span of time, Antonio's story has touched so many lives. The response has been incredible and unheard of. As of September 21, 2012, Antonio has accumulated over 25,000 Twitter fans, 25,000 Facebook fans and has created a short video trailer on YouTube, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5t4ZqID4kY) which has received more than 300,000 views to date. Clearly, these numbers speak volumes. They are a strong indication that Antonio Brown's story has the potential to inspire and transform a generation of change, providing a voice for those who are crying out for help.
To continue to get the word out about his memoir which Ebony magazine has dubbed as the male version of Push, Mr. Brown created an amazing interactive website (http://www.antonio-brown.com),
hired a highly reputable PR firm, and has found an "angel" who has committed by contract to spending $50,000 promoting the book contingent upon the procurement of a book deal with a mainstream publisher.
For Antonio Brown writing his story is simply not enough. To raise awareness and help other sexually abused children he launched his own nonprofit organization Protect-A-Child, Inc., (http://www.protect-a-child.org) in order to provide an opportunity for abused young adult men to heal from the abuse and reinvest in their lives through programs focusing on empowerment, self-reliance, and education.