Well, it’s already started. With the nation still reeling in shock over the child-rape scandal at Penn State, the excuses and misplaced empathy for Jerry Sandusky’s enablers have quickly usurped the public anguish, which should rightly be reserved for the child victims.
Victims? What victims? The nation’s eyes have become fixed on the ignoble fall of a noble man, Coach Joe Paterno, in what many see as an unjust end to a luminous, generation-enriching career.
We really ought only to be thinking now of the real victims. There are eight young male victims listed in the 40-count indictment against Sandusky. Two of these are listed due to eyewitness testimony, though their identities are still unknown.
The truth is we may never know how many victims there actually are.
Some are grown men, who may never come forward even when and if Sandusky goes to trial. Deeply embedded shame and chronic depression keep many victims of childhood sexual abuse in lifelong shadows. Some of these victims will never reveal, even to their most trusted intimates, that they were ever sexually abused. Yes, the shameful scars go that deep.
One or more of these victims may already be dead by his own hand, in one desperate act to stop feeling the torment that just won’t go away. Suicide — rather than vigilante violence against the attacker — is the more common outlet for helpless rage among victims of childhood sexual abuse.
Other victims commit suicide slowly through alcohol or drug addiction in a lifelong quest to numb the psychic pain. Even understanding why the pain is so intense, when the wounds are so invisible to others, provides enough psychic confusion to drive even the strongest soul to pure madness.
Some victims deeply internalize their sexual abuse and grow up to become abusers themselves, repeating the act of first sexual stimulation on the unwilling victims of a new generation. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Jerry Sandusky reveals at trial that he himself was once an innocent victim, as he pleads for mercy from the court of his peers. It’s no excuse and should be given no mercy. The vast, vast majority of sexual-abuse survivors never commit the crime of agony that was committed against them.
No, nearly all victims of childhood sexual abuse grow up and do the most harm to themselves, in a never-ending quest to numb that soul-wrenching pain and confusion which was sown so carelessly into their young psyches as their physical boundaries were so heinously violated. Childhood sexual abuse is truly a gift that just keeps on giving and giving and giving. And costing and costing and costing.
These are the things we should be thinking of now. The wrecked lives of the innocent boys violated by Coach Jerry Sandusky.
Next: Well, this shifting of focus away from the victims and onto the enablers is how good people become enablers of crimes against humanity, isn’t it?