In the recent national discussions about sexual assault on college campuses, victim advocates have said that many rape victims are afraid to come forward because of how they might be treated by the public. Sex abuse victims often have to face the very real possibilities that few will believe their story and that many will actually blame them for what happened.
Victim blaming is often the response to allegations made against public figures who are as beloved as Jerry Sandusky once was. Recently, a young man named Aaron shed his anonymous title of “Victim 1” and wrote a book about his experiences as one of Sandusky’s sex abuse victims. In news interviews, Aaron has said that what he suffered after coming forward and making allegations may have been worse than the sexual abuse.
Aaron was 11 years old when he joined “The Second Mile,” Sandusky’s youth charity. He says that Sandusky began sexually assaulting him by the time he was 12. He was unable to tell anyone about what happened until he was 15.
When his allegations prompted an investigation into Sandusky, word got around. Aaron says he felt like the people in his hometown of Lock Haven were more suspicious of him than of Sandusky. He added: “There are still naive people in my community . . . Whenever they said something, whenever they bashed on me for something, said I was a liar, they never apologized and still say I’m a liar.”
Of course, hindsight is 20-20, and most people now realize that Jerry Sandusky went on to sexually abuse dozens of young victims. Hopefully, Aaron’s decision to speak out now (as well as back then) will spark some much-needed public conversation and soul searching on the part of early Sandusky defenders. As traumatic as sexual abuse is, victim blaming adds serious insult to injury.
Source: PennLive.com, “Victim 1 says aftermath of reporting Jerry Sandusky ‘worse’ than abuse,” John Luciew, May 15, 2014