Tyler Perry Writes Letter to 11-Year-Old of Penn State Scandal

It’s not every day that Tyler Perry—actor, producer, director and Hollywood’s highest-paid man according to Forbestakes time out of his incredibly busy schedule to write a lengthy letter. Yet earlier this week, Perry penned an open letter to the 11-year-old boy who was sexually abused by Penn State football coach, Jerry Sandusky, declaring him not a victim, but a hero. And if you’re a female reading this right now, you really should read this letter.

Perry, who was also sexually abused as a child, delivers words of encouragement and solidarity to the young boy, and I’m thankful that he is taking a stand against not only child molestation but also rape and sexual abuse altogether. And he’s done so without establishing a new charity or putting together a huge television special; he’s simply shared a few heartfelt words.

Okay, such a task isn’t actually that simple at all—I’ve found myself at a loss for words when such a thing happens to someone I know. However, I’ve also found that though whatever we say won’t ever be able to change the past, it can change the future, even on a small scale.

One out of every four college girls is a survivor of sexual abuse by the time they graduate. Read the letter below and do what so many people involved in this sex scandal wish they could have done—use your voice.

I don’t know your name, but I know your face. I don’t know your journey, but I know where you are. I am your brother!

I must tell you, what you have done is so courageous. The strength that it must have taken for your 11-year-old voice to speak out about such a horrible act is something that I didn’t have the strength or courage to do at that age.

I was a very poor young black boy in New Orleans, just a face without a name, swimming in a sea of poverty trying to survive. Forget about living, I was just trying to exist. I was enduring a lot of the same things that you’ve come forward and said happened to you, and it was awful. I felt so powerless. I knew what was happening to me, but unlike you, I couldn’t speak about it because no one saw me. I was invisible and my voice was inaudible.

So to think that you, when you were only 11 years old, spoke up—you are my hero! I’m so proud of you. You have nothing to be ashamed of. I want you to know you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not your fault. Please know that you were chosen by a monster. You didn’t choose him. You didn’t ask for it and, most of all, you didn’t deserve it. What a huge lesson that was for me to learn. Your 11-year-old self was no match for wicked, evil tactics of this kind. You were hunted like prey. A pedophile looks for the young boys he thinks he can manipulate. The ones who have daddy or mommy issues, the ones who are broken, and the ones who are in need. But this wasn’t you.

Do you know that at the young age of 11 you had more courage than all the adults who let you down? All of the ones who didn’t go to the proper authorities, all of the ones who were worried about their careers, reputations, or livelihoods. All of the ones who didn’t want to get involved. Or even the ones who tried to convince your mother not to fight. You are stronger than them all! I wonder what they would have done if it were their own child.

I had a few of those adults in my life, too. They knew and did nothing. One of them even said to me that it was my fault, because I allowed myself to spend time with the molesters. And yes, this was someone who was in power and could have called the police, but instead this person allowed this criminal to go on molesting other young boys for many years. When I did tell a family member, I wasn’t believed. I suffered in silence. But not you, my young strong hero, you have done what many of us wish we could have done. You used your voice!

You know, now that you’re older you need to be aware that the aftermath of abuse may affect you for a very long time. But that’s OK; just know that the strength it took for you to talk about it then will help you get through it now. I often tell myself that if I made it through that experience as a child, then surely as a man I should be able to get past it. It still may take you a while, but that’s OK too. I have known people who have gone through the same things that we have, but unfortunately they were never able to admit it, and it destroyed them. They never went for help, and they let the abuse defeat them. Some of them went to prison for crimes, some are addicted to drugs, and some have even committed suicide. I know that none of these things will happen to you. You are too strong for that!

No matter what happens next, just know that the hardest part is over. I wish the coward and very sick individual who hurt you would have the courage to admit his wrong and not put you through a trial. But he will most likely profess his innocence until the bitter end. And probably, all the while, yelling at the top of his lungs about all he has done to help troubled young boys.

You may have to go through with that trial, and you may feel all alone when you’re on that witness stand, but just know that there are millions of young boys and grown men who are standing with you—including me. If every man who has ever been molested would speak up, you would see that we’re all around you. You may not know all of our faces and names, but my prayer is that you feel our strength holding you up. You will get through this; you’ve already endured the worst part at age 11. Now fight on, my young friend, fight on! We are all with you.

Thank you, Tyler Perry, for sharing this letter with the world. Share your own words with other readers in the comments below.

Ashley is a UC San Diego grad who is holding on way too tightly to a potential career in magazines and goes to Vegas all too often. She’s fascinated with celebrities and strawberry beer and doubles as a pathological texter/emailer/blogger. Feed the addiction with tweets @cashleelee. Thanks in advance.



  1. Teresa says:

    Now I´m crying

  2. I am crying too. This is so sweet. I love the amount of time he must have taken to write that letter. It was beautiful.

  3. Kylie - Vermont says:

    This is a wonderful way to use your celebrity for a good cause. It's awesome that Perry is openly speaking in support of those boys!

  4. Speaking out and admitting to being abused is one of the most difficult things a person can ever have to do. Sexual abuse is terrible, and it's harder for boys and men to admit because of social stigmas.

    Speaking as a woman who has been abused at several points in life, I know the strength one finds in the discovery that one is not alone. The knowledge that there are people who understand, who support you–even silently, from a distance–can give you an overwhelming feeling of gratitude, of solidarity, and of strength.

    Tyler Perry, I salute you. Your strength flows through this letter to everyone out there who understands. We can all keep each other up when we may want to fall. You are beautiful, and I know that your words and support have changed this young man's life for the better.

    To the young man–Should you ever read this, know that Tyler Perry is not the only one who supports you. Thousands of people out there have been through something terrible. Some have had the strength you had to speak out, but probably most took a long time. But we all get it. We all support you. You are not alone.

    1. Ashley Lee - UC San Diego says:

      Thank you so much for sharing this!

  5. Mother of a victim says:

    In 2010, Tyler Perry brought about 100 sexually abused "grown" men to the Oprah show. They held pictures of themselves at the age they were first sexually molested. It was horrific but sent a very powerful message. My heart broke for them, but was amazed at their courage. Other victims need to be "heard" before these predators strike again.
    Check it out:

    1. Maura - Rider University says:

      I watched this and it was really tragic yet inspiring- these people are so courageous for coming forward and I know the show will help people understand them and maybe help prevent more abuse. There is a definite stigma for boys- show no emotion, don't cry, don't come forward, it makes you look weak. That needs to be abolished. I would never frown upon someone for coming forward, that to me makes them incredibly strong.

  6. Maura - Rider University says:

    Tyler Perry is awesome- I hope the boy really found solace in the letter.

    A high school senior who was molested by Sandusky actually faces bullying in school- the students blame HIM for Penn State's football losses. Are you kidding me?!?!?! This poor kid was RAPED and all you can think about is football? People disgust me.

  7. grammaJ says:

    I'm so glad I got to read this. It's so horribly sad but also took serious courage for Tyler to write . I wish I could hug each and everyone of those kids that were damaged by someone's sick actions especially Tyler and this little one.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I'm a grandfather, but to this day I can relive the abuse I experienced at the age of 9 thru 12 at the hands of a high school jock I idolized. I can recall when I was in the 3rd grade meeting this older teenager near my house and he stopped me and said, "you and I are going to be special friends". There are times in the middle of the night I lay back andsilently tears flow down my face. The repercussions have lingered all these years. I once told an older cousin, but he didn't believe me. At the age of forty I told a psychiatrist and he decided I imagined it. I will leave this life concerned that my Maker will hold me accountable and I will simply rely on His Mercy. I am loved by family and friends but feel undeserving. It has been a difficult life.

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