As we follow the prosecution’s case against Jerry Sandusky alleged years of abuse, it would be easy to get wrapped up in the horror of the experiences being shared by victims. The testimony is gut wrenching and horrifying. The trial has put a voice– unfortunately to many voices – to the reality of childhood sexual abuse. The testimony captures the shame, isolation, and fear that abusers use to control a victim. It shows how vulnerable so many kids are and how easily a predator can identify weakness and exploit a child. It reinforces the reality that abusers are shrewd in how they seek victims. In this case, young boys without stable adult men in their lives who are in awe of the stature and success of the abuser were sought out under the prominent and respected man pretending to be committed to bettering their lives.
The anger can – and does – become overwhelming.
The testimony and trial holds a different story that cannot be overlooked. The strength in the voices of these young men is undeniable. The real story is that of their resiliency and strength. The boys who were violated are now young men telling their reality – stories that they hid for years. A reality of being a boy who trusted and even idolized a man who took a special
interest in them and seemingly offered the attention they lacked and craved. They are refusing to keep Sandusky’s secret any longer and they are collectively telling a story of childhood sexual abuse.
Their testimonies share a common thread of asking – pleading – for the abuse to stop. They may not have been able to stop the violence when they were 10 or 12 or 15 but they are collectively stopping it now and saving countless other victims in the process. The strength each has shown is astounding.
Their testimony is a critical step in removing the shame and giving voice to the thousands of victims of childhood sexual abuse. Their strength and courage is medal worthy. They have found the strength to step forward in hopes that their actions can ensure that another boy is never subjected to the abuse they lived. The strength to tell a story they wish was not theirs in an effort to hold an abuser accountable.
We honor these young men and the resolution they have shown. We thank them for unequivocally saying that what happened to them was wrong and not their fault. We hold up their stories – their truth – with a commitment to keep fighting with them to keep children safe and our communities healthy.