Laveranues's decision to share his story on The Oprah Winfrey Show did not come easily. He has struggled with fear and old feelings of shame. For Laveranues Coles, this decision is an act of bravery.
When Laveranues was 10 years old, his mother, Sirretta, met the man who would become Laveranues's stepfather—and make his life a living hell. For three torturous years, Laveranues says his stepfather sexually abused him at gunpoint. "My mom took a night job," Laveranues recalls. "From there, that's when he started creeping into my room."
In the beginning, Laveranues's abuser kept his gun close at hand, using it as a scare tactic, not as a threat. But things quickly escalated. As their contact became more frequent, Laveranues's stepfather pointed the gun at his head during the assaults. Fearing for his life, Laveranues kept this horrific secret. "He would tell me that if I ever told my mom," Laveranues remembers, "he would kill her and then kill me. My soul was damaged. I felt like I was trapped."