Mo'Nique's Brother Confessing Molestation May Help Other Survivors

Filed under: In The News

The brother of Oscar-winning actress Mo'Nique publicly apologized Monday in an interview with Oprah Winfrey for molesting his sister when she was 7 and he was 13.

That was good news for the Rape, Assault and Incest National Network (RAINN) in Washington, D.C.

"Whenever a high-profile person comes forward and talks about being molested, it has a tremendous impact on other survivors," RAINN spokesman Katherine Hull tells ParentDish. "It has a powerful effect on letting them know how they're not alone, and it's never too late to talk about it."

Hull says calls to RAINN's hotline invariably spike after such high-profile cases come to light. That means more and more people are being helped, she says.Gerald Imes confessed his guilt on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

"I abused and betrayed the trust of another sibling, my sister, my blood sister," Imes told Winfrey.

Mon'Nique, who won an Oscar for her supporting role in the movie "Precious," announced publicly in 2008 that she had been molested by her brother. Imes initially denied the allegations, but told Winfrey he decided to confess his guilt to apologize to his sister and reunite their family. Winfrey said the actress declined to be part of the interview.

"She said if your expressing what you had done to her could save one family, then it would be worth it," Winfrey told Imes.

That's his goal, Imes responded to Winfrey.

"Hopefully somewhere, somehow as siblings we can come back together as brother and sister," he said.

"I'm sorry, Mo'Nique. I'm sorry," Imes added. "I betrayed everybody's trust. I broke that trust. I broke that bond."

But should Mo'Nique forgive and forget? Should she reconcile with her brother who abused her?

"Victims of sexual violence, including child sexual assault, may react differently if and when perpetrators decide to publicly acknowledge the abuse," Jessica Shomper, a spokesperson for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, tells ParentDish. "A public admission does not forgive the perpetrator from the abuse that was inflicted, although acknowledging the abuse and validating the victim's experience are an important first step."

Hull agrees with that.

"Everyone's situation is different," she tells ParentDish. "It's up to the individual how he or she will deal with the abuse."

Imes blamed the incest, which he claimed happened over a two-year period, on his own trauma from being molested. He said the trauma also led him to abuse drugs.

"I started using cocaine, heroin, alcohol at the age of 11," he told Winfrey. "I used these drugs to hide my own pain, to hide my own fears ... The drugs allowed me and afforded me the opportunity to hurt my sister."

Imes' story shows how far-reaching the effects of molestation can be, Hull says.

"That really shows, speaking broadly, what survivors go through," she says.

Imes was later sentenced to 12 years in prison for molesting another girl.

"I can only hope by coming forth today that somewhere down the line we can come back together as siblings," he said. "I understand your pain. I truly think, let's share this together and move on."

In a previous interview, Mo'Nique, 42, told Winfrey she used her traumatic childhood experiences to play the brutal mother of the title character in "Precious."

Related: Are Parents To Blame When A Kid Gets Molested?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.