In matters of child sexual abuse, silence breeds shame, fear and anger. Conversely, victims who break the silence by reporting what has happened to them are often able to heal and to help other victims come forward.
When former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was charged and ultimately convicted of sexually abusing dozens of young boys, it was covered by news agencies all across the country. The brave victims who found the courage to speak out not only helped themselves and one another; they also helped abuse victims nationwide. In one recent case, a man says the Sandusky trial triggered memories that ultimately led to criminal charges against his abuser.
A 39-year-old Florida man named Jeremy has had a painful secret inside of him for the majority of his life. Until recently, these repressed memories were a secret he even kept from himself.
He had been sexually abused as a young boy by a 19-year-old man who lived in his neighborhood. The man also allegedly abused other neighborhood boys as well.
Like other abuse victims, Jeremy suffered a great deal as a result of these memories, even though they were repressed. He said he has struggled with drugs and alcohol in the past, which is a common coping mechanism for sexual abuse victims.
According to a recent news article, Jeremy’s life began to change when the Jerry Sandusky scandal was in the news. He explained: “I was 5 years old the first time [my abuser] molested me. After the Sandusky stories came out it started triggering memories. … I went forward to the police and that got the ball rolling.”
Jeremy and one of the man’s other victims told their stories to police. Within a month, a third victim had come forward. Their abuser was recently sentenced to a year in jail and 15 years of probation. It is unclear if any of the victims will also pursue a civil lawsuit against him.
Sexual abuse is a heinous and shameful act. But shame should rest solely with the abusers and not with their victims. By finding the courage to speak up and speak out, sex abuse victims can help themselves and others to heal.
Source: NWF Daily News, “Sex abuse victim tells his story, urges others to come forward,” Angel McCurdy, Jan. 16, 2014