Friday, June 22, 2012

Sandusky and Male Child Abuse Survivors

If you have watched the news, you've probably seen the story about the Penn State Football coach and the child abuse victims.  Of course, in the Sandusky trial, you see people suggesting he is too righteous of a person to ever do anything like this.  His wife testifies that she never observed anything going on and his friends act as if he is greater then any saint.

Would I expect much less where someone is on trial for child abuse?  Nope - no way, no how and not in my wildest imagination.  I know of NO and I mean absolutely NO child molesters that readily admit they molest children.  I know of NO friends, family and supporters that would come out and suggest they know anyone is a child molester.  It just doesn't happen in our society and in human civilization.   If you know of any, please share the news story with me.

However, when I saw that the prosecution was ready to call Sandusky's own adopted son, I felt this pit in my stomach.  You see, for male survivors of child abuse, it isn't easy to come forward.  It is not easy for guys (especially younger kids) to even comprehend what is going on, much less how to articulate it.  When young boys are raped and molested, they generally don't have the language or understanding to communicate what is going on.  Part of them may understand it is wrong (if they are even able to do that), but most likely the fear of repercussions will keep them silent.  If they do understand what is going on, there is usually no way on this green earth that they will come forward unless they have a supportive environment to do so.

It is so easy for adults to look and say, well any child should know that this behavior is wrong, but the adult is looking through the eyes of experience and knowledge, not through the eyes of the child.  Even a child that has been through all types of abuse and grows up with this, their mind does not develop this critical thinking even though their body matures.  So, to treat a kid as having an ability to know what is right or wrong or even articulate abuse, is just making it more difficult for child abuse survivors to come forward.

Let's go back to Sandusky's adopted son who was ready to testify if needed.  I'm sure he did not want to and I"m sure there was part of him that probably thought his adopted father could do no wrong.  Yet, when male survivors begin hearing what others go through, they start to find the language so they can articulate the experiences they have endured.  At that point, it becomes a point of anger and rage that someone that is supposed to have loved you could do this not only to yourself, but to others.

For me, I know that if I took my abuser to trial, there would not be much that could be accomplished.  For one, the statue of limitations in Iowa is so ridiculous that I could not even bring charges against these people.  Even if I managed to file a lawsuit against them, they have nothing and so it would be an excruciatingly difficult experience for little resolve.  Yet, if I knew that others were going through this or there was potentially future victims at the hands of my abusers, I would not hesitate to testify and suffer through the horror of such an experience.

Unfortunately, all too often in our legal system, the victims are the ones put on trial.  They are manipulated during the abuse and then after as they begin to break the silence and tell their story.  We don't seem to get it as humans and we sure don't get it in our country.  yes, we have come a long ways in helping child abuse survivors come forward, but we've got a long ways to go.

Everyone wants to think that guys just don't get molested and everyone wants to believe it happens by those dark, evil looking people hiding in the bushes.  Yet, I have heard so many stories over the year of what others have gone through and each time, it tears your heart out and rips it in shreds.  Being on the Oprah Male Survivor show with 200 other men, opened my eyes even further.  I saw the first hand pain in the eyes of those that were there and the fear of speaking out that was evident.

It takes great courage for anyone to speak out because of the shame and guilt that was instilled into the victim at the time of the abuse.  It takes great courage to break the silence for fear of how the world will treat you, chastise you, try to silence you, or make you out to be the one that did something wrong.  I applaud everyone that stands up and speaks out whether it is against a priest, ministers, school teacher, community leader or fmaily member.  The more we can stand up and shine the light of truth on this evil, the less room it will find in the fabric of our society.

 Blog Post And Images (c) 6/21/12 Don Shetterly - use and reprint by permission only You are welcomed to share the link to this blog post, but ask for for permission before reprinting this article. Thanks!

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