Sexual abuse is so prevalent that it affects nearly every family in some way. Latest national reports on sexual abuse of children states that 1-in-4 girls and 1-in-10 boys report abuse. With these national averages, you could be a victim of abuse or you know some one who has been. One thing is for sure, it is a crime committed by cowards who have victims that are too young to defend themselves. Children can’t process the trauma, leaving them overwhelmed by feelings of sadness, shame, guilt, confusion, fear, anger, and sexual overstimulation.
The media continues to inundate us with more details about the horror that befell young boys at Penn State University at the hands of two monsters: Sandusky and Paterno. I find myself thinking about the many victims of sexual abuse I have treated in my practice. How they have all been forever scarred. While the initial wounds may heal, the trauma of sexual abuse is always apparent. It is evident in their self-esteem, mood (depression and anxiety), relationships, body image, promiscuity or aversion, and broken hearts.
There is this great debate over whether or not Paterno is as bad as Sandusky. We will take Jerry Sandusky’s mental disturbance for granted. He is a sick man. While this in no way minimizes his role in the abuse of 8 or more young boys, he was compelled by an irresistible urge. According to Wikipedia, pedophilia is defined as a psychiatric disorder in persons who are 16 years of age or older typically characterized by a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children (generally those under the age of 14, though onset of puberty varies). The prepubescent child must be at least five years younger than the person before the attraction can be diagnosed as pedophilia.
What was Paterno’s excuse? He had none. Or at least none that is acceptable. His motivation: power, money, and prestige (at the risk of the lives of many). I don’t understand how any responsible, reasonable, sane person could stand by knowingly while children were being hurt in such a blatantly horrible manner. I have to assume that Joe Paterno was a sick man too. A man without a heart. A man without honor. A man without a conscience. A man without courage. A man who was no man at all. His illness was narcissism. He was selfish and indifferent to the plight of others.
Sandusky and Paterno are one in the same. Paterno might as well have been a pimp. He provided Sandusky with the means and opportunity to continue to exploit and torture young boys. So many lives could have been spared if someone would have had the courage, no, the common sense, to do the right thing. I hope that every symbol, statue, remembrance of Paterno is forever wiped from Penn State’s history books. Their horrible acts will be forever burned into the minds of their victims. But the rest of us should not be exposed to anything that remotely references these monsters. I hope that Sandusky’s new neighbors welcome him with open arms, and grants him the same kindness he bestowed on his victims.