The original post was written in June, 2012 after Jerry Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of sexual abuse
“Jerry Sandusky the monster is held accountable and his sex abuse victims are heroes for testifying.” This was the headline I saw as I opened the internet this morning. If you were on facebook last night, you couldn’t miss the news spreading across the posts. People shared anger, pain, applauded the jury, congratulated the victims for their courage, and felt that justice had been served. What you didn’t see where the people who cried out in disbelief. They do exist and they have raised their voices.
They don’t believe anyone would remain quiet about something this horrendous. They don’t believe in repressed memories. They will tell you that one or two children misconstrued acts of caring and support for something more. You might hear these one or two children were getting even as adults because they didn’t get the scholarship or award they believe they deserved. The rest just came along for the ride. Why even Sandusky’s adopted son made up allegations. He must have wanted a book deal. Two reporters clearly stated that it must not be true because the defense didn’t call him to testify. He wasn’t called to testify for strategic reasons well stated by defense counsel. But we need that little bit of doubt to be planted by reporters.
Do children (or adults) lie about sexual or physical abuse? Yes, they do it all the time when they say it NEVER happened. In the testimony of one victim, he told why he never came forward. The chance to leave his little town and troubled home for afternoons hanging around the Penn State football program were enough, he testified. “I thought, ‘I didn’t want to lose this. This is something good happening to me,’ ” he said. Someone is going to use that statement as proof the child wasn’t traumatized or hurt by this encounter. You have to understand the nature of predators. They make the child feel special and important, or they terrorize the child into believing it is their own fault this is happening. If you tell, something bad will happen. Truth is that something bad does happen when you tell, whether as a child or as an adult.
I wrote about feeling special and loved by my abuser in a previous post. It was the most confusing thing to know in my soul that this thing that was happening was so wrong. He said if I told we would both be in trouble, and he would have to go away. The darkness took over my being, and I just want to hide or maybe die. And yet, I was so desperate for someone to love me that I was afraid of losing this person. When it happened at the hand of older teenage boys in my neighborhood, it was different. But they used similar tactics. They threatened to hurt me, my dog, my home and told me we would all go to jail.
I never told anyone until I was thirty-six years old. I am grateful for a therapist that listened and believed. I didn’t tell anyone else until years later. Abuse followed me into adulthood. I have been through sexual harassment, domestic abuse, and rape. Again, I kept this pain and shame hidden. You see, I was afraid that maybe people wouldn’t believe me or would blame me.
Today, I tell my story here and to anyone that needs to hear to it. I want people to know they are not alone. It wasn’t until I first talked about my experiences that I knew anyone else ever felt the way I did. I could not believe that other people had experienced the same pain, the same shame, and the same feelings I had. I don’t wear it as a badge of honor. I don’t claim it as being who I am today. I am not what happened to me, but it will always be a part of me. I am going to use a cliché even though I hate them – I am a survivor and thriver, not a victim. I have found healing. I had a supportive therapist, people who heard me and believed me, and I know that God was always with me, even in the darkest times.
But if you ask me, I will tell you this. I still believe in monsters.
If you need help, call or chat online:
National Sexual Abuse Hotline 800-656-HOPE https://www.rainn.org/
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK