Molestation and rape are traditionally taboo subject matters, especially within West Indian cultures. So when a person comes forward with their story about abuse, the world should take notice. Rarely do we stumble upon those who can carry the weight of their troubles, while facing adversity straight in the face. If you never met someone who could, I would love to introduce you to Karlyn Percil, a child sex abuse survivor who was recently featured on Oprah’s OWN: The Life Project – where she shared her painful ordeal.
Karlyn opened up about her troubled journey and how freeing herself from the pain made her soul so much stronger.
Who is Karlyn Percil? Give us a bit of insight into your history?
She’s a country girl who grew up doing her homework by candle light with no electricity. She bathed in the river every day, walked an hour and a half to catch the bus to school. She was a model for a few years who participated in pageants.
She loves reading and also wrote a Beauty Work Book for young girls. But she was also a person who was sexually abused as a young child and who is now working with Unicef & the Toronto Police Service in Canada to ensure that young girls and boys grow up happy and free from sexual abuse.
Tell us about your feature on OWN (where you discuss your experience with child sexual abuse)? How did the show opportunity come about?
A friend sent me the casting call and I sent in my story. I was ready to talk about it. I was tired of hiding the real reason why I wanted to redefine beauty & why I encouraged women to love themselves. I was a model when I was younger and when I spoke about not feeling beautiful people always looked at me like I was crazy. I remember when someone said that I had no right to say I wasn’t beautiful because of how I looked. But they didn’t know my story – my “Elephant Story.” There is a lot that can get in the way of loving ourselves and feeling beautiful. And it’s so crucial to deal with the things that get in the way, because it can affect our happiness and goals in life.
What opportunities were you afforded since the show aired?
I’ve been so busy working haven’t really capitalized on much. I know..bad. But the impact it had on so many women some of them I don’t even know who have reached out to me, saying, your story touched me or it gave me strength to deal with mine or I felt better knowing that I am not alone – these emails were priceless. This is exactly what I hoped to achieve. To start the conversation on shame and the things that can take the power away from us.
Why did you keep the abuse a secret?
Because I blamed myself. That’s what victims do – we carry the guilt and stigma associated with being abused and suffer in silence because we feel ashamed.We think that no one will believe us, so we stay quiet and say nothing, hoping that it will stop or go away.
Did you have anyone to turn to?
At the time, I didn’t feel that way. When you get older, you know better, you know that you can talk to your parents, etc., but based on the West Indian culture, we don’t talk about stuff like that. So I was afraid to talk to my parents or anyone else for that matter. Things get swept under the rug, never to be spoken about because of the shame it would bring on the family. No one thinks about the innocent 2, 3 or 7 year old who has been violated at the hands of an older cousin.
Hit the flip for more from Karlyn…