When the scandal at Penn State broke, and everyone was scrambling to protect the school football legacy, and coach Joe Paterno, I went on the air livid no one was talking about the children who were allegedly abused by Jerry Sandusky. I dedicated a major portion of my SiriusXM show on Friday, November 11 to any victims of child abuse. I wanted them to tell their stories, so people could no longer distance themselves from those who have had to live their lives with memories of these heinous crimes.
One of the most powerful callers was Roxine, who wrote out her statement so she’d be able to get through it. She has given us permission to reprint it, and I encourage you to share it with all others and especially with those who would like to just “look the other way,” and not think of the actual effects of abuse on these children. If you’d like to hear the actual call, click here, but what follows is the text of Roxine’s statement:
I am the face of child sexual abuse
And this is the face of my abuser.
He was my grandfather. “Paw-Paw” sexually abused me from age 5 to 13. And people knew.
The events unfolding at Penn State involving the sexual abuse of children and subsequent cover-up has awoken that little 5-year-old girl who deserved to be protected, who deserved a childhood, who deserved to live, who deserved for someone to say something to make it stop – as did all of the victims of this sexual deviant at Penn State.
The sexual abuse of a child not only takes away their innocence, it takes away their life, because who that child was supposed to be is forever changed. And while we don’t carry scars that you can see, they are there. Internal, emotional scars, filled with trust and betrayal issues, fear and anger, loss; sometimes we are unable to find value in ourselves as human beings because we were once just objects used to satisfy someone’s abnormal sexual desires. Once we are old enough to realize that what our abusers did to us isn’t right, we begin to think that maybe we had no worth, because no one protected us, no one stood up for us, no one cared.
Used and discarded, we are left to seek out “love” and “value” in the only way we know how, through sexual behaviors that aren’t rooted in real relationships. We don’t know how to have relationships because we can never trust anyone fully. The relationships we counted on as children failed us. No one stood up for us. No one protected us. No one spoke up.
Because child sexual abuse is taboo, it makes people feel uncomfortable. And it is this uncomfortable feeling that leaves the door open for the abuse to continue. The incredulous thoughts of “not in my family, not him, not her, no way he or she could do that” make people question what they actually saw, or makes them doubt what they know is true. Because it is such a gut-wrenching notion to imagine a child being raped by an adult, people would rather rationalize it than deal with it. They would rather it just go away than have to face it. Our mental self-preservation mode kicks in and we try not to think about such awful, monstrous acts on a child.
Already, just a few days into this news story, there are articles, reporters and radio hosts saying they just want to be done with it. It makes them so uncomfortable that they just want it to go away. But for us, for the little kids who suffered the heinous acts of child sexual abuse, this never goes away. In a way, we welcome this conversation and want it to continue. It is the only way that some will listen. That little 5-year old girl is screaming at the top of her lungs for you to help her – if it doesn’t look right, if it doesn’t feel right – go with your gut – say something, do something, anything. Don’t just walk away because it makes you uncomfortable. Don’t sweep it under the rug because you don’t want to embarrass the family or the team or the university.
Children cannot protect themselves. It is our duty to keep them safe. Speak up. I would rather say something and be uncomfortable, than say nothing and risk losing another child. No matter what, always protect the child. If any of those involved had said something, they would be hailed a hero. Instead, they turned a blind eye. In my opinion, they are no better than the perpetrator himself.