Sandusky Verdict: Guilt and Responsibility

Sandusky was found guilty Friday night. As I read the news, I cried. So few survivors receive this kind of justice and public acknowledgment of the wrong done to them. I am so moved by the courage of the survivors who came forward and spoke their truth. I am also thinking about survivors who were not able to speak out. Or who did and were not believed, did not receive justice. I am also keenly aware that a trial verdict is not the end of the healing road.

I am still thinking about justice and healing. I am also thinking about guilt and responsibility. Sandusky, as is the case for any sexual predator, is responsible for his own actions. What responsibility do the rest of us have, individually and as a community, for helping to prevent other acts of abuse?

If you are a survivor, how are you feeling about this verdict? Please work hard not to compare yourself to any other survivors. Please honor whatever choices you have made regarding speaking out or not. Your primary responsibility is to your survival and well-being. That you are alive today to read this means you have succeeded. It is not and was not your sole responsibility to protect future victims; we all have to shoulder that burden together.

Reading ‘Who Would Believe A Kid?’ The Sandusky Jury (NPR helped crystallize my thinking about the need for better bystander intervention to prevent child abuse in the first place. And as always more education about sexual abuse in general.

This article contained the following quotes by Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly:

“One of the recurring themes of the witnesses’ testimony, which came from the voices of the victims themselves in this case, was, ‘Who would believe a kid?’ And the answer to that question is, we here in Bellefonte, Pa., would believe a kid,” she said.

and the wife of a Penn State faculty member:

“But it should not be a reflection on the university and the people that work there, the people that go to school there,” he said. “This is one evil man who did some evil things.”


This presents an overly simplistic picture and one that runs the risk of not contributing to ongoing education and prevention work in a useful manner.

One “evil man” abused children over fifteen years while a community looked the other way. I read Jerry Sandusky case: A timeline of key dates and think about all the different opportunities for sooner intervention. Children were not believed, for a very long time.

This happens every day, in all our communities, and will continue until we all learn to see the signs of abuse and to speak up to protect children.  We have to share that responsibility. We cannot stand by and do nothing.

What can we do to prevent sexual abuse? We can continue to raise awareness and educate others. We can believe trauma survivors and support their seeking healing. We can learn how to stop being complicit with rape culture.

Stop It Now! has some excellent prevention information and resources.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center has a great series on bystander intervention by Jackson Katz, Ph.D. :

Part 1: Penn State: The mother of all teachable moments for the bystander approach

Part 2: Penn State & the bystander approach: Laying bare the dynamics in male peer culture

Part 3: Moving Beyond Penn State: Bystander training as leadership training

This entry was posted in Abuse, Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse, Mental Health, Psychologist, Sexual Abuse, Trauma and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Sandusky Verdict: Guilt and Responsibility

  1. Pingback: How to Avoid an Abuser: Understanding Grooming | Dr. Kathleen Young: Treating Trauma

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