Open Letter to Milo Yiannopoulos

Subject: Open Letter to Milo Yiannopoulos
From: A Survivor of Child Sexual Abuse
Date: 23 Feb 2017

Mr Yiannopoulos,

While we don’t know each other personally, we do share at least one historical experience that will affect each of our lives forever. Like you, I was sexually assaulted by a Catholic Priest, close to the same age you say that you were. I was 14 years old and sought support and help from a Fr. Michael at a local church. As the oldest child in a very abusive home there were no positive male role models in my life— my father was physically and emotionally abusive

As you characterized during a recent press conference, I too didn’t realize that what had happened was as wrong and damaging as it turned to be until much later in life. Not until 2009 was I able to concisely recall the true scope and details of what happened to me. I’d been trying to figure out why I was struggling so much with physical intimacy for quite a while by this point.

Fortunately, the Sheriff that I spoke with in 2009—in the town where this abuse happened—actually believed my story and subsequently acquired a full confession during the arrest of the nasty old man. I owe a great deal of gratitude to Detective Williams. Unfortunately, the NC statute of limitations ran out by the time I reached age 21, so some 38 years later—and after five dreadful, punishing years of litigation—I had to face reality that I have no means with which to pursue recovery. I'm so crippled by the trauma I've been unable to work since 2009. Many victims in my situation were fortunately able to prevail legally during litigation for various reasons, sometimes receiving millions of dollars in damages. I consider Jeff Anderson and Marci Hamilton to be largely responsible for the great progress made while advocating for the prolific numbers of victims of child sexual abuse during the past decade. The incredible disadvantage to which victims of CSA are constrained, requires monumental effort inside and outside of the courtroom simply to assert basic human rights—is staggering. The public perception and engrained prevalence of a belief that victims are to blame ultimately makes it difficult to successfully punish perpetrators and win civil cases. The amount of time and hard work required to change things to favor the lives of victims isn't easy to quantify. The Catholic Church actually spends millions of dollars around the world, particularly in America, lobbying legislators and making it harder for victims to seek justice and civil settlements. Without financial settlements, victims have no way to gain access to the lengthy and very expensive treatment, leaving them essentially stuck, scraping away at an an empty life of turmoil and tortured misery.

One of the comments you made about child sexual abuse victims really stands out from the many other idiotic things you've said; “It's not the worst thing that's ever going to happen to you.” on the surface is obvious why this is such a stupid thing to say, but underneath the obvious there exists some rather sinister realities working directly against victims and in favor of perpetrators that merit mention.

In 2009, parishioners belonging to a Diocese in NC made this very exact comment to me after hearing of the arrest of the priest who repeatedly assaulted me. 1,300 of them joined a Facebook group, “Justice for FR Kelleher,” within days of the news. Despite the full confession by the priest during arrest, the Church failed to inform their parishioners of this fact until the Assistant District Attorney filed a motion in court years later. The Facebook group remained active, filling with comments disparaging and denigrating me until about an hour after the motion disclosing the priest’s confession. Poof! The cowards almost immediately removed the Facebook group. I still have every single post ever made, for my book.

This is the society you've fed with your vitriol and false perceptions about child sexual abuse.

At 54, I remain strangled with severe PTSD and major depression, with no access to treatment, causing me an incredible impedence to living a productive, stable and happy life. Despite Pope Francis’ supposed promise to support survivors of priest sexual abuse, I can confirm that the church does everything in their power to avoid supporting survivors like me. And trust me, I've tried every possible angle to appeal to whatever extant sense of humanity one might suppose exists within the Church.

In one of the cited podcast interviews you participated in, I believe you claimed that at 13 years old you lost your virginity to a 28 year old man (ostensibly one of your perpetrators) and how you figured the experience was consentual. You went on to elucidate that the age of 13 isn't too young to have sex with someone older, and how you were “sexually mature” enough to proceed, which is what matters—your factual consent being granted through implication.

These statements really took me aback, for a couple of reasons; you're vastly mistaken regarding the actual meaning of consent, confusing factual consent with actual consent and your inference about how your implied factual consent should serve as the general basis for consent. This is distorted and highly flawed thinking. Even from a layman's standpoint about consent one must recognize first and foremost that sexual maturity cannot be the basis. A young person’s ability to grant consent for sexual activity should be solely related to their emotional and intellectual propensity to adequately weigh the pros and cons of taking such an immense responsibility into consideration. Such an ability is fundamental to moral and legal consent. This is what separates humans from animals, to make this decision based on consideration that goes beyond our physiological aptitude. If animals had this capability one can imagine we’d likely not have such an epic overpopulation crisis and so many homeless pets. But something even more nuanced and precious is at play here; with emotional maturity we’d all hope to behave in such situations in a way that our older, hopefully wiser selves would be proud. Hoping that our naive, impressionable and vulnerable 13 year old selves would have wisely chosen not to “write a check” that our wiser, adult selves would prefer not to have to cash. Beyond these rather pragmatic reasons, there are others that tell us why a 13 year old cannot give consent for sexual activity.

A more esoteric, yet still very simple, example specifically addressing your errant reference to sexual maturity as the basis for consent, consider precocious puberty. For some, puberty can occur as young as five years, manifesting physical sexual maturity making them capable of engaging in sexual activity like adults. In other words, a very young child who happens to have developed sexual physicality equal to that of a 20 year old, could indeed participate in sexual behavior quite readily. The child might even enjoy the experience having willingly agreed or having been easily coerced to participate—or perpetuate it—seemingly without repercussions. What's missing from the equation is emotional and intellectual maturity. This is another example of how sexual activity between adults and children can be so terribly dangerous.

It’s important to know that myriad studies have found that the brains of children and young people are distinctly under-developed to the extent that critical judgement, on many levels, is absent and/or distorted. The pre-frontal cortex—responsible for our ability to evaluate complex scenarios and situations involving challenging dynamics that might involve risk have yet to fully develop at such young ages. In particular, children and teenagers are much more predisposed to irrational risk-taking behavior, seemingly lacking the ability to adequately weigh the consequences critical to successfully determining a reasonable risk/reward ratio in a healthy manner.

I think you also said that (more or less) you were likely in denial—and might still be—as to whether or not your experiences at such a young age were technically victimizing. This is an important observation, and I highly suggest you seek a safe way to investigate the possibilities.

Perhaps you've heard the term “arrested development.” The term refers to a circumstance in which someone experiences a traumatic situation potentially resulting in a future inability to continue a normal maturation trajectory—now having been suddenly stopped or “arrested.” This is quite common in child sexual abuse scenarios, often resulting in victims being unable to continue growing emotionally as time goes on because the traumatic shock from the sexual assault literally prevented them from maturing normally. One is myriad ways that humans cope work trauma. All sorts of things can take place within a CSA victim’s physiology in response to sexual trauma.

When recently watching your appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher, on HBO,—actually the first time I’d seen you on video—I noticed your behavior “in person” was oddly out-of-sync with your commentary and not at all what I’d expected. To be fair, I hadn't been especially focused on the chaos and controversy that emerged in the wake of your publicly available commentary or appearances.

I found your behavior during your interview with Bill Maher especially instructive. I asked my wife how old she thought you were, and she said she thought “maybe 24-25.” I thought, hmm... something is amiss here. In all honesty your behavior reminded me of exactly how I’ve observed the way young men around 14 act when unsure of their sexuality. Boys who overtly attempt to engage literally everyone in their proximity by flirting, as though a 12 year old little girl. I've seen it a hundred times.

I also noticed that while interacting with Maher, you were a very poor spokesperson for whatever cause or ideology you were attempting to further, or maybe were only serendipitously promoting. Just terrible! Why? Because you weren't being serious. Giggling, blushing and shrugging are not the hallmarks of personal conviction. Nor are these affects the most convincing that one's views are something other than convenient predilections to predicate controversy. That's what sells—I get it. You just weren't convincing anyone that you take yourself seriously, nor were you taking the venue or interview seriously.

Such an odd juxtaposition, indeed. In my experience and observations, at that point, I became rather disappointed in the “Alt:Right’s” bizarre enthusiasm for your novelty and convoluted value to their agenda. What a great scam you had going. Basically all I could see is you sadly behave as though you're a chronically self-loathing gay man whose only apparent marketability—aside from the shock factor, which you’ve admitted to repeatedly—is being an excessively mean human being, picking on others like a pathetic schoolyard bully who is forever focused on the most secreted of their vulnerabilities—the same way a child does. Not a huge market for that I imagine unless someone wrongly believes you are somehow anathema to those “crazy, PC-Obsessed liberals” the Alt:Right is determined to “unthrone.” Yawn.

Milo, just as Donald Trump's idiosyncratic defects are ridiculously conspicuous and practically displayed as if a badge of accomplishment or social increment, so are yours. Although the degree of sociopathy in your case is debatable, it's clear the self-destructive path you publicly allege to have recognized and abandoned in your “late twenties” has simply just become transmogrified into hate from a habit of drink and debauchery. Don't be fooled, you're new substance of choice is just as inebriating and no doubt profoundly destructive evidenced by the recent controversy causing the loss of your book deal and speaking schedule..

Your public comments about consent with respect to child sexual abuse have effectively granted a sort of adhoc, perversely-sick permission to every pederast and pedophile out there seeking a rationale for their disgusting violations and assaults on innocent, young lives. This pursuit, I'm certain you're aware, is about a long standing myth embraced by various nefarious groups who believe children should be able to have sex with whomever they choose despite their age. To whatever extent it occurred, I'm afraid, the permission you’ve given cannot be undone, not really. NAMBLA, I believe, has actually attempted to push such an agenda in defense of criminal charges of pederasty in the court of law. An absolutely absurd and vile attempt to normalize child sexual abuse.

I’m honestly concerned your hopelessly careless comments have accomplished something even worse and more damaging to CSA survivors; The hundreds of thousands of survivors of child sexual abuse (still living) who struggle everyday with the familiar and suffocating guilt that so begrudgingly becomes embedded in their damaged psyche, are now—yet again—very possibly second-guessing whatever progress they may have finally managed through incredibly difficult, wrenching determination and effort just to simply let themselves off-the-hook; to abandon the overwhelming compulsion to blame themselves for something they absolutely had no complicity in causing or allowing. You see, one of the many popular tomes recited by people who like to demean and verbally attack child sexual assault and rape victims is “You wanted it, you asked for it, you let it happen and you didn't resist.” Basically, you have consent.

The scariest thing is that your salacious comments validate these absurdly sick and twisted accusations whether intending to or not. Whether they come from external or internal sources. Some will believe they validate the idiotic posturing by NAMBLA and other prevalent purveyors of child sexual assault. The absolute wrong side of history.

Who knows how many of your fans and followers are CSA victims? Who knows how many are still living with secrets, afraid to step forward? Who knows how many young gay people found strength in your notoriety and defiant posturing? How many now feel confused or defied now that you've so emphatically and outspokenly claimed that children aged 13 possess the emotional and intellectual clarity to consent to sexual activity with an adult, and who therefore, aren't at fault? Who knows how many are now further discouraged having heard your comments?
Sexual maturity is NOT the issue. The issue, is undeniably one of intellectual and emotional maturity, which is obviously not inherent in the factual consent your perpetrator inferred.

I read your public apology. That's fine. Now the hard part arrives. You've got to take responsibility and do everything in your power to repair the damage.

Perhaps one day you'll mature enough to recognize that you've likely revictimized a considerable number of CSA victims with your words and actions. Maybe you'll write another book that tells the story about how you came to realize how dangerous your rhetoric of hate and absurd lack of accountability may have actually hurt such an already vulnerable population, who, are at the very least, undeserving of such carelessness.

Maybe you'll experience an epiphany.

Maybe you'll donate your advance from your next publisher to an organization that supports child sexual abuse survivors. Maybe you'll dedicate some of your time to advocating for child sexual abuse survivors.

The time is past due for Milo Yiannopoulos to grow up.


Kezaiah Starbuck
Atlanta, GA