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...

A Time of Fear and Hope

The thoughts of a fifteen year-old girl in 1938: “When I was born into the world as an American citizen, I was given freedom of speech, and freedom of religion. Because of these rights and others, because America is democratic, because I live in a beautiful wholesome country, because these things were given to me, I owe my deepest respect to America. By being a good Christian, by being honest, by being loyal, and by obeying all laws as a good citizen should, I can repay to America all the wonderful things that she has so freely given me. I owe my strength and my life to God and to my country. At this critical time when attentions are at war, I fear to dream of our country being thrown into these useless and horrible wars. War is senseless. War is murder. There is one predominating prayer in the hearts of American youth, and I honestly believe it is a prayer for peace. It is a prayer that America may not have to go through all the heartbreak, poverty, and murder that inevitably comes with war. So now in my heart there is one thing which I believe America owes me more than anything else. It is a perfect peace. If I give unto America all that I owe, if I cooperate with her, and if I serve her and honor her, then America must “let freedom ring, ” and America must give me –peace. ” The author of this essay was my mother, Sanna Jane...

Suicide

If You Are Thinking of Suicide A personal letter for you:  If you are a teenager (or an adult) and you ‘re thinking about suicide, THE most important thing you should do is make a connection with someone who’ll listen and help you figure things out. Think of your life at the moment as this: You live in a big house. Everything you know and see and do and feel is in that house. Your family, your friends, your enemies, your computer, games, sports, your understanding of yourself, of your God, your entire universe… all of these are in your house. Then one day you open a door you ‘ve never noticed, you never were aware of. What ‘s behind the door? Another world, a larger world, one where you can find friends and not feel isolated or humiliated or worthless. It ‘s not a perfect world but it is one you can live in and actually like. You have made a discovery. You ‘ve found a world where the people who judge you now will either come to love you more, OR you will learn that how THEY feel no longer affects how YOU feel. The idea to commit suicide usually comes after being abused, belittled, humiliated, embarrassed, bullied, isolated, or betrayed. It can come when there seems to be no way out, when you ‘re in a box, when everything seems hopeless. It can come after several of these experiences, or just one, or all. Humans respond to these experiences with two extreme feelings: unendurable pain and rage. People who actually kill themselves do this to get rid...

Work and Meaning

Our lives are specks. Planet Earth is a speck. Our galaxy is a speck. We live in an infinite universe where looking at a star means looking into a past so distant that earth had not yet stirred with life. We don ‘t sense our insignificance until it is brought to our attention: A natural disaster. A moment of awe, while seeing spectacular beauty for the first time. An intellectual epiphany in which we grasp but for a moment the impossible scale of existence. It is at such moments that we can find meaning in our lives. But these moments do not come often. And so, for the great part of our lives, many of us are seeking the “meaning of life. ” Some of us avoid the question by staying busy. Who has time to ponder such questions when there ‘s so much to be done? Sometimes though, even for busy people, the question strikes us. We complete a project. We finish the work week and have no plans for our days off. We win a competition. Our children grow up and leave home to start thier own families. Some people who ‘ve made a great deal of money ask the question in a different way. They stand alone on the deck of their yachts and ask “is this all there is? ” The question is eternal: What did St. George do after he slayed the dragon? I usually think of my memoir as the most important work I ‘ve ever done. Perhaps because of this, I ‘ve found it difficult to write anything else. What is the point of writing something new unless it is as profound or useful to others? I ‘ve no interest in writing for vanity but I ‘ve always wanted to tell...

Reporting An Offender You Love

After I wrote my memoir, I collaborated on a second book entitled “Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life after Boyhood Sexual Abuse. ” The theme is that what causes trauma in a child abused by someone older, is not so much the physical act, but the betrayal of a relationship. No child grows up with an innate understanding of an ideal relationship. At the deepest level, children learn what relationships are by their own relationships. If a boy gets into a relationship with an older man, he will think that the man cares about him. But when it becomes obvious that what the man wants is the boy ‘s body, the boy may feel betrayed. And so as he grows up, he may “know ” that all relationships are fake, or that they aren ‘t what they appear to be, or that they are simply a way of “getting what you want. ” You hustle people for one thing or another. Conversely, you feel that you have no worth other than what your body can be used for. Your idea may work as long as you are young and attractive. But when you grow up, and you realize that the man you thought who cared about you is now grooming a younger boy to replace you, you may well feel an emptiness and anger and ultimately, well after the events have passed, betrayed. If you are a boy who ‘s father is molesting your friends, you may grow up believing that your father cared more about your friends… or your friend ‘s bodies, than you. This is part of the trauma of boyhood sexual abuse. Several...