An Open Letter to Sandusky’s Victims

I heard today’s news that Mr. Sandusky waived his right to the hearing. I know that those of you who were prepared to testify today had no doubt steeled yourself for the event. I suspect that when you heard of Sandusky’s decision, you were both relieved and upset. But from what I understand of the law and of criminal proceedings, it may be best that you only have to testify once. You know as well as I that you are speaking for untold numbers of boys who can’t come forward. The fact that you are willing to testify tells me that you are capable of heroic deeds. You may not feel like a hero, but others will give you this name. I do. I’m proud of you. I support you all the way. What you’re doing is heroic because you’re saving the mental and spiritual lives of other, innocent boys. You’re doing it because child molesters NEVER stop on their own. Someone has to confront them. It’s a shame that no adults had the guts to do it. Yes, some may have told their peers and superiors. But is that what a witness does when he sees a man raping a little girl? No. That witness calls the police. And the police (if they aren’t intimidated by the offender and his crowd) will do something about it. I also want you to know, from my experience and after talking with many others in the field, that you may not feel satisfied after confronting your abuser. I hope you will. But if you don’t, it merely underscores what we already...

Defenders of the Faith

Child molesters like to place the responsibility for their acts on their victims. A common ploy to accomplish this is a threat. Sometimes the threat is delivered directly to the child: “If you tell anyone I’ll hurt your mommy.” But often the threat is sent in code, or delivered by proxy to a larger audience, a family, members of the faith and defenders of the faith. Because child molesters lack the ability to empathize with the child their identity is attached to something else… their sexual obsessions, a group of fellow molesters, an institution which nourishes and protects abusers and provides every kind of security for now and evermore. As such, the “naming” of an offender compels the group or institution to defend itself. We’re seeing this today in the Catholic Church. Molesters are inventive with their threats and the way they are delivered. Borrowing from cases of domestic violence, it is common for example for a wife-beater to injure or kill a family pet to set the tone. “Disobey me and this is what will happen to you.” The word’s need not be spoken. The violence itself is the message. “Do you want to see your grandmother left without someone to care for her?” Pedophiles don’t have to resort to violence to send their message. Some of their threats appeal to a child’s own identity, or sense of belonging, or their neediness: “Do you want to ruin the family name?” “Do you want people to call you a pervert?” “What would happen to you if I went away? If the family split up? If we lost everything?” “People...