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What I Learned From Oprah

My story of abuse and how Oprah has helped me cope with it.

deana warren-cook

on 5 May 2013

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Transcript of What I Learned From Oprah

When I was about seven years old, my mother brought home a man to live with us. He eventually ended up being my stepfather and molesting me and my three year old sister. The abuse went on for somewhere around three years. Like so many children in this situation, I was threatened and intimidated into not saying anything about the abuse. I actually never knew that it was happening to my little sister. I was told, by my stepfather, that if I kept quiet then he would not hurt her. HE LIED. In 1986 when I was almost 15 years old, I watched an episode of Oprah that really made me feel like she was speaking directly to me. She gave me hope that day and a sense of courage that I too could overcome my sexual abuse and could be happy. I felt like she was telling me to stop feeling ashamed for something that I had no control over.

My mother had made me feel like she was mad at me for the abuse and like I ruined her perfect life by coming forward - and then I see Oprah, a survivor of abuse, telling me that it was not my fault and to not feel ashamed. It was so inspiring to hear her story and I will never forget it.

Click on the link below which will take you for a video clip from that show. Divorce, rape, incest, abuse, neglect, murder, racism....all of these things are still plaguing us today, but Oprah has abandoned the children and adults who still need her. Millions of children who live in middle and low income households had access to her show and had the benefit of seeing real, thought provoking television because they just happened to be in the room while their household was watching the show. During the years that The Oprah Winfrey Show was on network television, it was reported by Brian Stelter with the NY Times to have 7 million viewers a day in the U.S. at its lowest and New York TV Show Tickets Inc. reported 15-20 million viewers a day in the U. S. during the shows' peak (qtd. in Wikipedia).

In 2011 Oprah started the Oprah Winfrey Network and moved to cable. Since the channel is not always carried in the basic channel package many families on fixed incomes do not get to watch her channel without having to pay an extra charge. Oprah's ratings for the OWN channel have not been consistent and have not regularly broken the 1.6 million viewer mark (Seidman). I am a strong and mighty Oak because of what Oprah taught me.................but I am still mad at her. One of the scariest times to be a teen and young adult learning about sex and relationships, was in the 80's because of the Aids epidemic. I remember, during this time, that people were scared to use public toilets because of Aids or they were afraid that people would sneeze on them and give them Aids- it was a period of panic.

Given all we know today, it is strange to look back and see the following video and the fear and hatred that people had towards others who were sick with HIV /Aids. This show and others that Oprah did on HIV/Aids made me feel more educated on the topic and helped to educate millions of other people.
Education is the first step towards understanding.
The Statistics that have me worried about the future of American children........

** According to U.S Census Bureau, there were approximately 11.7 million single parents living with children in 2010 (Table FG5).

** There are estimates that indicate that there are "26.8 million children of alcoholics in the United States and preliminary research that suggests that over 11 million were under the age of eighteen years old" (Nat'l. Assn. for Children of Alcoholics).

** In 2011, there was approximately "676,569 victims of child abuse and/or neglect" reported in the United States (18). I had Oprah to guide me during my formative years and now that she has left regular television -
Who is going to give these children the guidance and emotional nourishment that they need in order to grow up into a productive, successful member of society?
Jerry Springer??? Maury Povich???
If this is who we have to guide us, We are all doomed! If it were not for the influence of Oprah in my teenage years I would not be the person that I am today. She was there for me everyday after school, ready to teach me about life and how to deal with whatever was thrown at me.

Oprah taught me to be courageous and strong, to stand up for what I believe in, and to have compassion for people. I also learned by watching her example that I shouldn't be ashamed for the abuse that I suffered as a child. Instead I need to speak out against abuse and tell people my story. During the years of sexual abuse at the hands of my stepfather I had to also endure physical abuse at the hands of my mother. "The Stick" which was a piece of hardwood, one inch thick, by one inch wide, by three feet long, was used most often. It left stripe-like welts and bruises where ever it hit me. Mostly my mother would aim "the stick" at my thighs, buttocks, or back. If "the stick" was not in arms reach, then hair yanking, slapping, and punching usually ensued. Once, when I was middle school age she even got so mad as to push me to the floor and kick me with her cowboy boots. I ended up with a bruised kidney and was barely able to walk.

Many people knew that some physical abuse was happening to me, but at that time in history neighbors did not get involved in such things. I was so embarrassed by the bruises and marks that even in the hottest days of summer, I could not wear anything, but long pants.

In 1990, a lady named Truddi Chase went on the Oprah show and shared her terrible story of abuse by her stepfather. Hearing Truddi's story helped me to release some of the pent up frustration and anger I had in me over the years of abuse that I had suffered. Even on my worst day I still had it better than Truddi ever did and look at her. Truddi was abused from the age of about two years old and due to the extreme nature of abuse she ended up splitting into ninety-two different personalities (Web). http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Oprah-Opens-Up-About-Her-Abusive-Childhood-Video (oprah.com) Truddi Chase on Oprah May 21, 1990 http://www.oprah.com/health/The-AIDS-Epidemic-in-Small-Town-America-Video_1 By the end of 1985, I was fourteen and I had been sexually abused by my stepfather, physically abused by my mother, several of her boyfriends and two of her husbands. I had ran away from home twice, been taken advantage of by a man that was nineteen years old, and my mother was trying to push me into a relationship with a twenty-three year old man. I was hopeless and broken and thought that the only way to escape the hell that was my life was to kill myself. Next came three bottles of pills, a trip to the emergency room, and psychiatric counseling. Click on this link to view a video that really resonated with me and showed me - how NOT to act towards other people. Oprah's life has always given me the hope and faith that a girl who was abused and grew up in poverty could rise above these things and be successful and make a difference. I am not alone in my feelings, if you look at her history, she has been voted time and again one of the most influential people on Earth.

So why am I mad at her and why do this presentation on her? Because I feel like she has a super power and instead of trying to save and educate the children and adults in this country she has gone off on permanent vacation. It is like Batman saying that Gothem City doesn't need him anymore. It is just wrong. We all know it. Now all we need is some villain to come along and force Oprah to come back to work and save us.

In the meantime, it is all of our jobs to try and make a difference in this world - so please, join me in the fight to end child abuse. T O P CHILD STOP CHILD ABUSE ABUSE Thank you for sharing my story Report any suspected abuse to DCF or to the police. Don't just turn a blind eye, and don't just assume that there is nothing wrong. Let the professionals investigate. SAY SOMETHING TELL SOMEONE OFFER HELP PROTECT THE ONES YOU CAN AND PRAY
FOR THE ONES YOU CAN'T (dreamcatchersforabusedchildren.com) (redorbit.com) (ggbcf.org) (fanpop.com) (dreamcatchersforabusedchildren.com) (azdps.gov) In 2010, Oprah did an a set of two episodes about child abuse. In the episodes, actor Tyler Perry and two hundred men, who had been abused as children, shared their stories. It was a very emotional and overwhelming show to watch.

The fact that Oprah was able to get two hundred men to come on television, show their faces, and speak about their abuse was an amazing feat.

The following link will take you to view episode one from this two part series. Even if you watch just the first five minutes of this episode - you will be able to see and feel why this was a monumental series that changed many lives. http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Full-Episode-200-Adult-Men-Who-Were-Molested-Come-Forward-Video S
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