In an exclusive interview, Oprah Winfrey sits down with Matt Sandusky who, for the first time, speaks about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his adoptive father, Jerry Sandusky.
He thought he was the only one. "At bedtime, his ritual began...bedtime was the bad part" Matt says the abuse started when he was 10 years old.
It was easy for his hero to manipulate him
"I felt people envied me instead of people looking down on me," he says. "You were the person that he chose to be beside him to do all of these things with him, and you had all of these other people—grown people—wanting to be there and be in your position.""The picture that he paints of what went on in the Sandusky household on a nightly basis will no doubt outrage and disgust you," Oprah says. "But more importantly, what I'm hoping is it moves you to really become aware of what a child crying for help looks like." Find out why Oprah says Jerry Sandusky's methods of grooming and manipulating children were classic signs of a pedophile.
The interview aired 7/17/2014 at 9 p.m. EST, 8 p.m. CST.
I transcribed most of what Matt Sandusky said below the jump -
A summary and some direct quotes are listed below. Because I am typing real-time, this will not be formatted properly, but I thought it important to capture as much of Matt's words as possible.
Began living in the home full time at age 16
Called him Dad, Dottie Mom.
Referred to Second Mile at age 7 to work on self-esteem.
His single mother enrolled him in the camp to provide him with positive role models.
Met Jerry at the camp at age 7 or 8.
"Matt became an instant challenge for me...I didn't want to lose him..so I kept trying and trying to pull him in" From Jerry's book Touched.
not the man in the van, the weirdo in the raincoat - but rather the master manipulators.
When did the manipulation start?
From the very first time - 9 years old - from the first moment he met me. That's where he started his process - the grooming process.
The first thing I noticed that he did when he picked me up - his hand would be on my knee while he was driving.
Coming from where I came from, we didn't touch, didn't hug, didn't kiss, didn't tell each other we loved each other.
It was awkward and weird, but I thought maybe that's the way he was with his family.
It was a gradual thing, it happened in summer camps and anytime he had time with me - he would move further up my leg with his hand..
At 9 years old I felt awkward. It felt so different from anything that I had experienced in my life - [I could] not truly understand the feelings I was having or what it was for.
You don't know what you're feeling - it's not something you feel on a daily basis.
He just progressed - going up my leg, being in your shorts, throwing you, grabbing on your genitals as he throws you.
12 years old - he's progressed to full-on being in the locker room after racquetball had to take a shower. That's where a lot of the sexual abuse really happened.
That goes into everything - it started with wrestling - at a very young age blowing on your stomach, lifting up your shirt, him laying on you - he would be aroused, but just laying on you.
Even at that age, I thought in my mind the only thing I could tell myself was that he was gay - and I wanted him off of me.
I didn't know what to call it, I just knew it wasn't right.
I didn't want it, but there wasn't anything I could do.
I came from a very broken home, a very poor family, an abusive home. 90% of the time with Jerry Sandusky was everything a child would want. He gave you things, you had fun, you went places you would never go without him - but the 10% of times when he was doing these things, it can't even compare - that 90% it gets obliterated - of the damage that was done to you
But you are willing to accept at that moment to let him do what he wants - it's not worth me causing an issue, it's not worth me upsetting him
Little boys who don't have a father figure in their life, people who aren't looking out for their best interests, that's what they [pedophiles] play, he played that up.
The overnight visits were good. Except for that one part - bedtime. Bedtime was the bad part, but any other time we were in the home, with the family, it was fine. You look at that family and you say wow, I wish I had all of these things - but at bedtime, his ritual began.
He would come into the room and say goodnight - that's what he called it I guess. That was part of what happened in there. You had to sleep in your underwear or in these Penn State blue mesh shorts - because he said you sweat when you sleep so you had to allow your body to breathe - so you were always in your underwear or shorts to sleep.
From there he would go to tickling you, blowing on your belly, pulling you off the bed and rolling on the floor with you - obviously as it progresses it becomes more sexual in nature
He goes from blowing on your stomach or chest, he moves further south until he's in your inner thighs and then he moves up to your genital area. As you go further with that it's not blowing anymore. Then it's - as I now know and have the words for - it's oral sex. He's doing that to you and it's very confusing.
It's very confusing for you because you have a reaction. It's something that at that time you definitely don't know what's happening, but that's just what it is I guess. I don't want to say that it's pleasurable, but it's not the most painful thing I guess.
YOUR BODY BETRAYS YOU
For him to have done those things to me for him to have performed oral sex on me, forced me to do the same to him, for him to kiss me on the mouth...
He digitally penetrated me and he did try to anally penetrate me, but I was never anally penetrated.
In high school, Matt tried to break off all contact. Jerry constantly called, stopped by his biological mother's house, took him out of school. He started act out, skipping school, and doing drugs. At 16, Matt had several run ins with the law and was arrested after he and a friend accidentally set a barn on fire.
Jerry Sandusky then gave him an agonizing choice - serve time in juvenile detention or avoid that fate and move into Jerry's home. A little over a year after he moved into the home, Matt tried to commit suicide
After the suicide attempt, the really sexual abuse stopped. The manipulation, control, hand on the leg, pulling me into a separate room, those are the times he's reinforcing and checking in with me that I'm not telling. From the environment I came from, the things I was doing, he was always reinforcing that the police were coming around but HE was handling it.
That's him reinforcing that he is control of the situation.
At 18, Jerry and Dottie adopted Matt - the pressure to change his last name was because Jerry was a coach and Matt would get reduced tuition.
Why did it take so long for him to be caught
It took so long because of who he was in the community. It's hard for people to believe that someone that powerful, someone who has dedicated their life to children, it's hard for people to wrap their head around how he could do those types of things.
As to why the law took so long, it's about children and victims not being believed when they tell.
I think he thought he was in love with me.
I think he believed the things that he was doing to us - that was love to him, that was him taking care of us, that was him being there for us when no other person would have been. In his own warped way, I truly believe that he believed that he cared and that he was loving us.
I think - I think in his own mind, he doesn't see what he did to us as hurtful, as damaging, as traumatic. He believes that he was giving us so much that that's him showing love.
Matthew said Jerry Sandusky asked him to attend the first day of the trial as a show of support. Testimony started with Victim #4, who Matt knew.
The first witness was Victim 4 who is the victim that I had the most interaction with, that I knew fairly well. As he's talking, I'm looking at him and it seems though he's looking at me, and he's telling his story, but his story isn't his story, it's my story.
That's when the door really opened up and it just hit me, from every single detail that this now man now, is talking about, like how does he know this? How does he KNOW that I was in a program, how does he know that I was given money? How does he know that in the showers, Jerry would pull your hands behind your back to pretend like he was wrestling with you to force your hands to his genitals.
How does he know all of these things? How would he know MY STORY.
He owned what happened to him and that was his story, but his story was my story.
I went into my own bathroom, I looked into the mirror at myself and I had to ask myself the question - what am I going to do.
Do you keep your mouth shut? If you keep your mouth shut you're protected, you don't have anything to worry about. Or, are you going to do the right thing, the hard thing, and go to the AG's office and tell them that you were sexually abused as a child.
And I had to take everything in when I made that decision. I had to take everything in - I was married, that's going to impact my wife, my children, that's going to impact my children. It would have been better I feel for me to have carried it myself, I truly believe it would have been better for my children and my wife.
Because I can handle it. I can handle people attacking me. I handled the abuse. I can take it. My wife is an innocent. My children, they're innocent. For people to attack them. Yes, absolutely, the simple answer would have been for me to keep it, for me to handle it on my own.
I was a coward - I had numerous opportunities to tell law enforcement what happened to me, and I didn't. I was afraid of that man.
I did all of these horrible things, but they stuck with me. I owed that family everything. Everything that I was, I owed to them. At that point in time, that's what I felt.
Dottie Sandusky accused Matt of lying and stealing Jerry's rings (selling them on Ebay). Matt denies this -
Whenever I talk about the police always being a threat, right after Jerry was convicted of the crimes of 10 other children that I wasn't involved in - one of the very first things they come out and speak about is that I'm lying and I stole things. They're attacking me right after he's convicted.
Regarding whether or not Dottie "knew"
For me, I find it very had for someone to have been married to someone for so long, to have been in that home, for him to say he was going to tuck a child in, tuck me in and have him be gone for 45 minutes...in my mind I find it hard to believe that she wouldn't have had some inclination...
She's walked into the bedroom in the evenings when I would be on top of him and we would be on the floor - nothing sexual was happening but there is a child laying on top of her husband - but other than that she's never seen anything I know of.
He was really a touchy feel-y guy - even the public saw him as being that guy, I'm sure she saw that but did she know what it was, I can't answer that.
I'm not bi-polar. I'm dealing with psychological issues from the abuse and I have been for a very long time as all children - as you grow older and you don't handle it when you're younger, the problems don't go away.
The physical part you can erase - you can deal with that. Pain is pain at the end of the day. Pleasure is pleasure. You can deal with that. It's the stuff you don't know - you feel trapped ultimately you feel alone.
59.7 million paid out to 26 of 32 men who came forward...
Matt is one of the victims. There are people who say he did this for the money. I took it really personally at first, that it was an attack on me.
At the time I spoke up, I didn't know there would be money - I didn't want to file a claim against Penn State - but I did.
My story is well documented. It's in the record, people thought things were happening to me, they thought they walked in on things but weren't sure. For me to come here and speak on national TV, knowing that I'm going to be attacked my wife/children will have to pay for that - there is no reason for me to lie. I'm coming forward to help.
Matt and his wife founded The Peaceful Hearts Foundation
Goal is to prevent CSA and provide resources to other survivors.
I think we can make a difference, but we can't do it alone...
It's going to take everybody, parents, adults, legislators, a combined wide-based group effort to make a difference.
Denial doesn't work.
This is a great opportunity for us to ask - do we really care about child sexual abuse in this country, or is it one of those things that we are going to continuously overlook...
7:03 PM PT: I took notes throughout the interview and transcribed a lot of what Matt said - for those who don't have the OWN network. I did not take the time to make it "pretty" - but assure you, it's pretty important.