From the Executive Director's desk

June 6, 2012


Today, in a central Pennsylvania courthouse, the curtain was raised on a dramatic spectacle. The overture, lasting through months of pretrial motions, cross-motions, and appeals ended. The opera of the Jerry Sandusky trial has begun.

As with any spectacle, many elements of this trial will seem larger than life and theatrical. With his toothy grin and bulbous nose, Sandusky may look clownish at times, yet the crimes he stands accused of, 52 counts of abusing 10 boys over 15 years, raise a feeling of horror and revulsion in all of us. The alleged victims' restrained resolve in the face of widespread scorn powerfully declares that a great wrong has been done, demanding justice. Watching it all, a vast army of opinionators create a buzzing cacophony drawing our attention but distracting our focus.

Euripides himself could not have dreamed up a better script, and Wagner would be challenged to pen a score worthy of this story. Criminal trials posses an inherent drama which fascinates us. This trial has riveted the nation's attention like few others. When we are part of a crowd, it can be much harder to turn away from the drama playing out before us. But, as with all pieces of theater, the truth of what is happening on the stage is often far more mundane to the players than it is to the audience.  

This is not to say the alleged crimes are mundane. Millions of survivors know sexual abuse can be a fact of life so commonplace as to be an ordinary, yet horrific, part of their lives. For some of them, and for many who were not themselves abused, every detail of this trial has the potential to trigger strong reactions -- the stakes seem extraordinarily high.

It is important to remember that very few of us will have any influence on what happens in that courtroom. Lawyers and judges will speak their lines and play their parts. This drama will unfold at its own pace, according to a script none of us will have a hand in writing. The powerlessness of being a member of the audience to this tragedy can be especially painful for some. That feeling might lead some people to think that they can't do anything to help those brave young men who are taking such a courageous stand.

That's not true.

The pursuit of justice is not the same thing as the pursuit of healing. Twelve men and women will alone determine justice. But there is much that the rest of us can do to help these survivors, and all survivors, in the equally important pursuit of healing.

Regardless of the verdict, the outcome alone will not heal the harm these survivors have endured. Long after the final gavel has sounded and the news trucks and cameras have moved onto the next scandal, some of these men will still be hurting. All of them will continue to need our support, care, and strength for years to come as they come to grips with what was done to them and undertake the difficult work of healing from it.

The courage and resolve of each of these brave men should be an inspiration to every one of us. By standing with them in spirit, by clearly saying that every survivor of sexual abuse deserves compassion and support instead of ridicule and demonization, by showing with our words and deeds that healing IS possible for EVERY survivor we can empower those who were powerless for far too long.

By helping these young men, we will be helping heal ourselves as well.  



















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