ST. PAUL, Minn. - Ruben Rosario has been using the printed word to tell the stories of Minnesotans for more than 20 years in his column in the Pioneer Press newspaper, but on Sunday he told his own story in a front page column.
"He began to sexually abuse me, of course, when nobody was present, after he picked me up from school sometimes." Rosario told Kare11's Allen Costantini that the abuser was his 15-year-old cousin. "You are 7-years-old. It was painful. It was icky, as I mentioned in the column, but you do not know what has happened to you."
Rosario waited 52 years to tell his story publically, years after his abuser died of leukemia at 48.
"I never confronted him, out of respect for the love I have for his mother and my mother and by bringing it up, I did not want to break the family apart," Rosario said.
The rest of the family did not understand why Rosario did not rally around his cousin's illness, did not attend his wake, nor his funeral. They did not understand what had happened so many years earlier.
Rosario does not believe that his cousin abused other young boys. He said his situation, being raised by a working mother, gave him and his cousin opportunities to be alone. Rosario said the abuse stopped when his mother, his step father and he moved away.
Costantini noted that Rosario was in a "triple whammy" of abuse. He was seven, the abuser was a family member and Rosario is a Latino.
"Correct," Rosario responded. "That was another barrier (to coming forward) because it is a super taboo subject in the Latino culture. It is kind of like you challenge your manhood kind of thing. Even if you are 7-years-old, you start thinking, 'Wow, I am going to have to prove my manhood.' Through my teenage years when I am out on the playing field, basketball or baseball, you are more aggressive, trying to be more macho and you try to over-compensate for what happened to you."
Ruben Rosario became a successful reporter and columnist in New York City and Minnesota. He married his wife, who he calls his "guardian angel and the one who chiefly helped me throughout my life on this particular issue." Rosario told his wife about the childhood abuse 16 years into their marriage.
The Rosario's have two children, a daughter, 27, and a son, 12. Ruben told his son about the abuse just a day before the column was printed. He said his son's response was to "want to exhume the body of my abuser and beat him up." Rosario said it was a healthy response to the revelation and his son is OK with the issue now.
Rosario said he has been humbled by the response to his Sunday column.
"I have had over 100 emails. I would say most of them are people who either have been abused themselves as children or have family members who have been abused. My hope and my reason for writing the column is not only to get it off my chest, but by doing that, publicize an issue that is still a little bit in the closet.
"Maybe there is a kid out there, maybe there is an adult who knows that child is being abused and maybe this might prod them to get help or to have the child come out and tell somebody they trust."
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