Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State coach, was convicted on 45 counts of child sexual abuse and plans to appeal. His own adopted son was prepared to testify against him if Sandusky had taken the stand, that he was also a victim of this pedophile.
Confronting an abuser and seeing justice done is important for victims. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse I have found that just speaking the truth is often not enough to come to terms with the past. For me, there is a fear of losing my sanity in the process of defining what happened. The abuse in my family was generational. My uncle who is now in his 70’s told myself, my mother and my sister that he had been abused by his father while we were visiting him in England. For years afterward, I knew that he had told us but could not recall what room we were sitting in at the time or if it was daytime or night. I just knew he had shared his burden and the rest was blacked out. Deep down, I knew why and it brought up my own repressed fears of being crazy and afraid.
In telling us, I don’t know what my uncle hoped to achieve or if he just felt it was now ok to do so since his father, my grandfather was dead. Perhaps he felt it was safer to wait until the threat had passed. And he may have been right. But for me, I was vocal and always had been. I would have spoken truth to power as I had in the past. I called my grandfather out at 13 by telling my mother about an incident that was inappropriate. It was the first time he had behaved that way since I was a child and I put a stop to it. He called me sick and crazy. But it was the truth. I have always spoken truth to power and after his death, I told my grandmother about my uncle but did not reveal the extent of my own abuse. By denying her the ability to confront her husband, I thought my uncle was wrong. I thought the rest of the family was wrong as well as they all knew the story. My mother struggled greatly with her own attempts to accept what her father had done. She repeatedly said that it never happened. She has since changed her tune.
I support Sandusky’s accusers and his adopted son. It is important to speak truth to power. Even if you question your sanity in the process.
“Liars do not fear the truth when there are enough liars” – Fox Mulder in X Files episode The Truth season 9
“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, it becomes less and less important whether or not I am afraid.” – Audre Lorde