Born in Harlem and raised in Texas, Antonio Brown can tout working with celebrities, such as Ashanti, Ja Rule, Toccara, Dawn Richard, Trey Songz, and Fabolous. But the glitz and glam of the entertainment industry has taken a back seat to the 27 year old’s true passion: educating and supporting abused young men. A survivor of sexual abuse from age seven to twelve, Brown is working on a new memoir entitled Muted Dreams, which is being called the male version of Push (the book which became the movie Precious). A detailed account of his experiences as a sexually abused child, Muted Dreams is not simply a recap of what he went through, but also a catalyst for breaking the silence that’s disempowering abused young men. Brown’s goal is to raise enough funds to transform a book into a non-profit organization and movement. It’s not enough to simply put words on paper; Brown prefers to inspire a generation of young men to heal.
EBONY: How did you get the courage to share and write your memoir, Muted Dreams?
When I chose to write this story three years ago, it was a story that I felt needed to be told. As a child, growing up without someone I could talk to about what I was going through, I felt it was important to share my story with young adults that are or have experienced what I went through in my childhood. Society has stigmatized our generation, especially the males to the point that it’s frowned upon to talk about being sexually abused. I have realized through my experiences, dealing with the dysfunction that comes with being a victim of abuse, that if you don’t talk about it, then you’ll never break the cycle of abuse. It will be passed down from generation to the next as it was in my family and my experiences.
EBONY: How can other victims of male sexual abuse work to heal themselves?
The best advice that I can give to other male victims of abuse is to not be afraid to talk about it out of fear that someone will look at you different or judge you. The first step to healing from these types of experiences is to understand how and why it occurred and in a sense understanding how it has affected your life. We can spend all of our energy hating or blaming someone else for our experiences but that will get us nothing. All this will do is prolong your growth, your healing process, and you being able to move on with your life.
EBONY: What made you put your entertainment career on pause and refocus your efforts to full-time activism and sexual abuse advocacy for male victims?
It was needed now more than ever. The sexual abuse of boys or even men is rarely spoken about. Until the recent events in the news that have captured headlines in today’s media, you never heard about things like this being talked about. I felt like my story could help so many people in understanding that they’re not alone, there’s other people out here just like them that have made it through these types of experiences.
EBONY: And you want to do more than simply publish a book. You’ve started a non-profit called Protect-A-Child. What are your aspirations for this organization?
I want to provide an opportunity for abused young adult men to reinvest in their lives through programs focusing on empowerment, self-reliance, and education. My aspiration is to help as many young men that I possibly can that have been victims of abuse. The program is designed by promoting an environment that allows these individuals an opportunity to open up about their experiences and guide them through a period of rehabilitation to restarting their lives. As a victim of abuse, I understand how these experiences can take a toll not only in your life as you get older but also in your ability to move past these experiences and start over. Life is too short to dwell on the mishappenings – live, learn, and grow.
To learn more about Antonio Brown’s Muted Dreams and Protect-A-Child, Inc., visit Antonio-Brown.com, and click to watch his Kickstarter video here.
Arielle Loren is a writer and filmmaker that offers real-life commentary on women’s issues, sexuality, health, and travel. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Corset Magazine, the “go-to magazine for all things sexuality.” Check her out on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @ArielleLoren, and visit her personal site.