This predator is like so many others; a respected pillar of the community, happily married, a father, avid sportsman, well-liked philanthropist, devoted to the welfare of children with a reputation beyond reproach. He groomed his victims from the most vulnerable of youngsters from his own charity and boldly cherry-picked and openly courted them in public, denying his inappropriate behavior even after accused by the victims, other adults, and despite 45 guilty counts by jury.
This is testament to the level of depraved delusion by this individual; one caught among the many still loose on the internet and every where your children are. It is evil shrouded in lamb’s wool.
Have we learned our valuable national lesson that child sex abuse is happening and listening to our boys and girls, even when it is painful to witness? Will we protect our children better? The secrecy and denial around sexual abuse allows it to flourish. Have we conveyed to victims that ‘when you speak up, the system will respect you?’ I must say, by referring to the victims by number and not directly identifying them, they have spared these individuals the trauma of public stigma and allowed them to courageously tell their stories with the hope of regaining anonymous lives. Sandusky enjoyed a vigorous defense and his right to face his accusers, including suggestions his accusers would gain materially by their accusations. So, their testimony in open court about embarrassing, traumatic matters in front of local and national news while facing the demon that did it is indicative of great courage.
Very many survivors of child sexual abuse repress the events until late adolescence or adulthood when contact or the statute of limitations has run out on who they might accuse, leaving the survivor feeling deeply frustrated and invalidated by any authority. Often attempts to directly address abusers do not go well and end up in more emotional victimization. It is recommended that work with a qualified counselor to assist with this. Getting help not only feels better for a more functional life but serves as a beginning for the inoculation not to allow sexual abuse to fester in ones’ soul.
As a therapist, I clearly understand the phenomenon that many who suffered abuse as children are watching this trial and feeling a catharsis, a special sense of release, that this monster is going to jail for life. It may not be the exact creep who molested them so long ago, however it feels so amazing to see a process of legal resolution achieved and they can nearly imagine ‘their creep’ in handcuffs. That is a very powerful emotion!
There are no winners here, only survivors, to be commended for their courage. For every one of them, there are at least ten victims who did not come forward and I am not speaking ill of them, only wishing them peace and courage in time to seek the assistance in time they may need. And there are the survivors who relate, I acknowledge them. After all, many with this disease were molested themselves as children, and did not know how to process the circumstances that festered into a disease. If we are to eliminate child sexual abuse, it will be via education at all levels, community vigilance, acceptance and counseling of victims, prosecution of offenders, and inroads in psychology to possible treatments.
photo courtesy ABC News