When the Jerry Sandusky story broke in November, my whole life changed. I was on a path that I thought fulfilled me, a lifelong student I was 1/2 way through my MBA, had established myself at work and was in line for a promotion. I had successfully started a small side business that was bringing in much needed additional income (my husband, a victim of the economy, had lost his job in 2011 for 8 months). I was surrounded by the love and laughter of my three wonderful boys and cruising right along towards what I thought was my destiny.
But on November 8th, my whole world changed. Fears and feelings I thought I had long conquered suddenly surfaced. I was appalled, angered, incredulous that my life story was being played out on National TV. Children, sexually abused, over a long period of time and people knew. Child sexual abuse and cover-up. I read and absorbed every news story, every article, every comment, seeking an answer to a question I had long buried. How could this happen...again?
I always thought that it just happened to me. That somehow I was defective and therefore deserved to be punished. That I was bad, tainted, dirty. And, even though I "told" and the grownups did their investigation and the rapes stopped, everything just went back to "normal." No punishment, no counseling, no acknowledgment, no apology. No hugs, no "I'm sorry," nothing. Just an atmosphere of avoidance - like it never happened. Always the big elephant in the room when I was with my parents and siblings. Them pretending that it never happened and me, begging them to tell me it wasn't my fault.
But here's the thing. Secrets can only be buried for so long. Especially secrets involving the sexual abuse of children...
Secrets Refuse To Stay Buried
Two recent high profile pedophilia cases are Jerry Sandusky and the Catholic Church - both consisting of the prolonged, systematic sexual abuse of children and subsequent cover-up. But recent news stories in both seem to indicate that those secrets just won't stay buried.
Spanier, who was removed from office by Penn State trustees on Nov. 9 — four days after Sandusky was charged — is seeking the court’s help in getting access to a trove of emails from 1998 through 2004.Catholic Church
According to the lawsuit, filed in Centre County court, the emails were thought not to be recoverable until a few weeks ago... when Spanier, Paterno and other high-ranking administrators appeared before the state grand jury investigating Sandusky last year, everyone thought a new email system installed at Penn State in 2004 had eliminated emails prior to that time.
Somehow — and the court documents do not make it clear how — at least some of those earlier emails became retrievable “in recent months.”
Memos unearthed from long-secret archives show the complaints were not just under lock and key — but guarded by locks, keys, alarms, safes and computer security programs.As I mentioned, my life changed in November. I've always heard of people talking about their "calling" in life - and I have spent 44 years pursuing what I thought were my passions. But now I know what I must do. While I did "Tell" about the child sexual abuse, and child protective services did investigate, nothing in my life changed significantly. In fact, as I've mentioned before, I was forced back into my pedophile's life (he was my grandfather), and we had to pretend for the rest of his life, like nothing happened. The only other person I told was my husband.
One 1994 list shown to jurors Wednesday lists three diagnosed pedophile priests and 13 more deemed "guilty" of abuse, often because they had admitted it. Yet most remained active priests until the "zero tolerance" policy adopted by U.S. bishops in 2002. And some remained priests years later.
Honestly, I felt complicit in my silence. It's probably the self-blame a lot of victims of child sexual abuse put upon themselves, but I somehow felt that if I had stood up all of those years ago and spoke out about child sexual abuse, that it might somehow have helped these boys - or other children, from being abused in the future. That maybe my speaking up could have prevented other children from suffering the same fate.
And so began my journey - my calling. To speak for those who cannot speak. To take the blame and shame of child sexual abuse off of the victims and put it squarely on the shoulders of the perpetrators. To reclaim the power taken away from me as a child - my voice. We could never talk about it again in my household. I think they felt embarrassed and ashamed that they failed to protect me and I felt like I wasn't worth anything, being told implicitly by the way things played out that it was HIS life we must protect, HIS reputation - not mine. I was expendable. Worthless. Nothing.
And even now, there are some who want to silence my voice. The already strained relationships I had with my family are all but broken and some current relationships are tenuous at best. Let's face it, child sexual abuse is a difficult subject for anyone to talk about.
But we MUST talk about it - because there are children today who are being sexually abused. And the repercussions of that abuse are lifelong.
Pedophiles can only exist in the silence and secrets apparently displayed here. But together, we can shine the brightest light on child sexual abuse and prevent other little girls and boys from ever knowing the heinousness of this type of betrayal.