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From the time Mike Tyson became the undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion in the mid-1980s, the Brownsville, Brooklyn, native never tried to hide the fact that he had overcome great obstacles. By the age of 13, he had been arrested a total of 38 times, and served a stint at a boys home in upstate New York.
Turns out, he was hiding an even deeper secret, he told ESPN‘s Jeremy Schapp in a recent interview: He was sexually assaulted as a child. About the age of 7, Tyson says he “was grabbed by a man who tried to pull him into a building, but wouldn’t go into details about what was done to him,” the New York Daily News writes.
When questioned further, Tyson, 51, demurred, saying, “Well I don’t like to talk about that, I like to keep that where it was in the past, but I was molested as a child.”
But he added that the experience “made me have to be tough for the world I lived in.”
Indeed that pain and so-called toughness played out in the headlines in a multitude of ways, including allegations of spousal abuse, serving time in prison for rape, and in the boxing ring when he famously bit off a chunk of Evander Holyfield‘s right ear.
Despite telling Schapp that he had not spoken to anyone about the incident, the News reports that Tyson actually discussed being sexually assaulted by a stranger in SiriusXM’s Opie Radio in 2014. During the SiriusXM interview, he recounted being snatched off the street abused at the age of 7.
“I’m not embarrassed or ashamed of anything from that perspective,” Tyson said at the time.
We’re glad Tyson opened up about the experience and hope it leads to healing. Statistics from the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse show the average child molester offends 200-400 times before being caught. And the short-term long-term effects of childhood sex assault victims can be are devastating, and include a range of symptoms, including anxiety and self-destructive behaviors, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime.
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