When St. Louis-based rapper Json heard about how his songs on sexual abuse, “Secrets” and “Secrets (Pt. 2),” impacted victims, it moved him to shoot a music video for the tracks.
As the video was shot, their impact was affirmed, as well as the need for more.
Json penned the first “Secrets” from the perspective of his wife, Lawanda Watson, who had been raped by her father at the age of nine. Json wrote the sequel from his standpoint — how sexual abuse hurts a spouse.
He released the songs in 2012 and 2013 on his fourth and fifth studio albums, Growing Pains and Braille, respectively. As Json continued to perform the songs at shows, he continued to receive gratitude for them as he prepared to drop another LP this year.
“Everywhere I’ve been, it’s rocked people,” Json told Rapzilla.
In Philadelphia, a woman in her 60s thanked him for “Secrets” after a concert and revealed that she had been sexually abused over 50 years ago. Json was the first person she had ever told. In California, he heard the testimony of a teenage boy whose mother had been sexually abused, gotten pregnant from it, considered abortion, but ultimately kept him.
These stories led Json to include the songs as bonuses on his upcoming album and shoot a music video for them. He hired film director Julio “Kre8tor” Montalvo for the task. Kre8tor asked Dianna Hobbs, CEO of Empowering Everyday Women (EEW), to act in the video.
Json didn’t know Kre8tor’s wife had been sexually abused. Kre8tor didn’t know a six-year-old Hobbs had been sexually abused. And until the day of the shoot, Hobbs didn’t know the extent of her role — reciting the lyrics to “Secrets” as if she was Json’s wife in a counseling session.
Her tears in the video are genuine.
“On set, I broke down so badly, Kre8tor had to stop shooting,” Hobbs wrote on her blog.
She wasn’t alone.
On a routine second attempt to shoot the video from a different house, the homeowner volunteered his sister to play the role of counselor. She arrived with no context of the content or Json as an artist. She, too, broke down in tears as the skit commenced.
No one in the room had known that she, too, was sexually abused.
“You have four women involved in one project, and all four have experienced the exact same thing,” Json said, “they don’t even know each other and they’re all from different parts of the world.”
Every 107 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network — which Hobbs and EEW, inspired by the experience, partnered with to start the No More Secrets campaign. The movement aims to raise awareness and encourage victims of sexual abuse to open up and find help. DontKeepSecrets.org, which launched on Monday with the music video, will offer resources for victims that include a hotline and outlet to share their stories.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re from, what your background is or where you’re at the social or economic ladder,” Json said. “Everybody or people that they know of has this issue somewhere, somehow, and we don’t want people to feel like they’re alone in the fight.”
Hobbs now serves as the Director of Strategic Communications for Lamp Mode Recordings. Json, the President of Lamp Mode, hopes to organize conferences to teach church leaders how to deal with sexual abuse.
“The saddest thing is it’s rarely talked about period, but then in the church it’s talked about even less,” Json said. “There is no praying this out. This is something that anybody that’s experienced will deal with until they meet the Lord Jesus or until they die and don’t meet him. We want to help people walk through this thing because it’s a very difficult thing to walk through.”
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