Crushed

Does anyone else just feel crushed by this Sandusky child rape thing? I can't stop following it, but it's been making me so sad since it first came out. I can't stop thinking about those boys, who needed help, and no one would help them.

I think about all of my friends who were sexually abused as kids–so many of them.

I think about all of us parents who send our kids out into the world and make the absolute best guesses about who we can trust with our precious children.

I think about all the people who knew and didn't say anything.

I don't know what to think. But I can't stop thinking about it.

49 thoughts on “Crushed”

  1. I feel exactly the same way.It also prompted me to sit down with my two little boys & have a very, very explicit conversation about adults & inappropriate touching (which I know is just the beginning of what those boys suffered, but I’m guessing it started there). I told them that even if it was an adult that they trusted & that we trusted like a coach or a teacher, it was NOT OK for an adult to touch them on their pen*s or bottom and they should get away, tell another adult, and tell us.
    Then I thought of all the adults who KNEW about what was happening to those boys and did NOTHING and I’m filled with rage & sorrow all over again.

  2. Same here. I made the mistake of reading the first few pages of the grand jury report. I feel physically ill every time I think about it. How can you, as a 28 year old man, round that corner, see a child being raped and do nothing? How can you live with yourself? I am tiny and I would have grabbed anything from tennis shoes to soap and hurl them at the creep’s head and got that poor boy away from him. They all wanted their sponsors, their careers, their money, their games to stay intact, so they all hushed it. It’s despicable beyond belief. Really incomprehensible. I can’t stop thinking about it. And for me, the saddest part of it all is that these were “At risk” children who had been selected by the charity so that something positive would happen in their lives and they would have a chance at education/career etc.

  3. Yes, surprisingly affected by it. As a somewhat positive note, it did spur me to have a very simple age appropriate talk with my almost five year old. Including the most important part, you can always tell mommy and daddy anything-we won’t get hurt, we won’t get mad-in fact, we will be proud of you for telling us anything that makes you uncomfortable and we will help you/your friends.

  4. I’ve been feeling less sad and more filled with rage. Directed at all those people who are DEFENDING the witnesses, complaining about their football season, and the tarnished legacy of certain individuals. Just rage.It also made me have a talk with the boy – we’ve had talks before so it is part of an on-going conversation, but I HATE that I have to have these talks.

  5. I am a single mom with an ex-husband who is barely involved in our son’s life. I would love to have a man who thought my kid was cool spend some time with him- but after this I wouldn’t let that happen. My heart breaks for those kids. And I am angry about how it has affected the rest of us as well.

  6. Right here. I am sad and angry and physically ill over it. I keep having visions of my son, who is 8 years old, in Sandusky’s clutches. Cue vomiting.I want to personally wring the neck of not only Sandusky, but every person who knew what was happening and did nothing, AND the morons expressing sympathy for those involved. I don’t care what their excuses were/are. Nothing is more important than the safety of a powerless child.

  7. I live in State College. We are numb, tearful, stumbling, and sick to our souls over this. We are heartbroken for these boys (now men) who are probably only two degrees separated from any one of us here in this small town, and who were victims of such premeditated, monstrous depravity.I wonder if that monstrous depravity just isn’t too much for us to confront. There’s been so little storm directed at Sandusky. Rather, so much of that outrage has been leveled at the graduate student who failed to physically intervene when confronted with such atrocity. Is it possible that, when faced with horrible evil committed in a rigidly hierarchical institution, that too many of us would do the same? I think that we would all take the shame of our inaction with us to our graves, but I wonder if inaction in the face of horror isn’t an unfortunate byproduct of our human nature. At least two other eyewitnesses to separate incidents, though obviously horrified by what they saw, failed to intervene. This nytimes article brings up some relevant, but uncomfortable points: http://tinyurl.com/83fnjo4
    How do I arm myself against tendency to freeze and not act? How can I help my little son develop the psychological muscles to not only stand up for himself if ever (please God forbid this) he’s faced with such a monster, but also to stand up for others? My mama heart breaks over all of this.

  8. Ditto here. Feeling a lot of anger about the enablers who allowed it to continue for so long, disgusted at the hero worship that can happen where someone is put above reproach. And sadness knowing that this incident is not an isolated event. There have been, and will continue to be, others. It’s heartbreaking.

  9. It’s just sickening. I think that I had let myself think, as the mama to a little boy, that maybe he wasn’t as at-risk as little girls. I don’t know why I thought that but I felt like, “oh, boys are safer” – not that even thinking that would have stopped me from having the conversations about inappropriate touching, etc. (And how do I have these conversations with my speech delayed child? It’s so frightening that someone could take advantage of him.) It just rips my heart out, to think of these mothers who knew what a monster Sandusky IS and for some reason, were kept quiet. How did they do it? I would have been howling from my rooftop to bring this son of a b*tch down. I know there are many reasons people keep quiet but don’t we all know that if we keep silent on these situations, we’re only guaranteeing more abuse for another child? I have no sympathy for Paterno or anyone who went along with keeping this child abuser in contact with CHILDREN. And I can’t even imagine the amount of boys he abused…the only thing I do hope comes from this is a greater awareness of abuse that happens to boys, too, and how we can’t be ashamed to talk about all of it.

  10. I admit I haven’t been following this as closely as I should, yet a completely parallel scenario is playing out in my own community that has my head spinning. A very revered, respected man in our town – a pastor who was involved in everything from providing low cost community health care to helping the homeless to youth ministry to scouting – someone I’ve never met but feel like I know due to his prominence in the community, committed suicide on Sunday. On Monday, it was revealed that the state police had begun an investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse. He apparently had a years-long relationship with a 12 year old boy. People feel angry for sure, but also something more. Hoodwinked? Ashamed of themselves for never suspecting it? Still not sure.I live in a somewhat isolated area geographically, and this Sandusky thing was just another tragedy that happens Somewhere Else, but not Here. And now we’re all being thrust into the reality that it can happen anywhere, even in our safe, small community.

  11. Yep, I’m sickened by it as well. The image of an adult man raping a little boy flashes in my mind whenever I hear or think of of the case.~Shudder~
    I’m stunned by how many people allowed this abuse to continue:(

  12. It pops up in my mind frequently, too. It is horrible – I almost wrote unspeakably horrible, but it isn’t. We’re all speaking about it. That is a good thing, in my opinion, because sexual abuse often has a haze of shame around it that keeps it secret and blames the victims. We all need to keep speaking about sexual abuse, and empowering our children to stand up to it, just as we’ve put a national focus on recognizing and standing up to bullying. I only hope we don’t lose trust in the many people who are good, kind, and willing to invest their time and energy in ‘at-risk’ kids. They do not deserve our suspicion.

  13. @Bird, I live a few hours south of you, I’m guessing, and have been following that story as well. It’s heartbreaking.And, yes, my reaction has gone straight to rage re: Penn State. My husband and I were talking about it the other night and he offered a different interpretation of the grad assistant’s motivation and I *YELLED* at him. Ahem. It really touches a nerve.

  14. Its unnerving to say the least. And I find that I stay away from the news stories and TV coverage… I hope these young men find closure and peace and go on to live awesome lives despite the evil done to them.As for my LO. He’s so young – just 1… But we talk about this stuff. I know, I know – its weird. But I just want to be in the habit of it. I want conversations about touching, sex, inappropriate, appropriate, ALL OF IT to be a normal continuous conversation that we have. So even though all he can do is say doy, goy, and whatever other word he’s made up, when I change his diaper I say only mommy and daddy can touch you here because we’re changing your diaper, etc. Just things like that. Is that weird??? I just feel like I have to start the dialogue somewhere! Why not now?

  15. @ Sheila: I don’t think that’s weird at all. I think it’s better to keep it out in the open and clear from the start. Good for you!My daughter is 2 1/2 and she knows all the correct words for everything, and she knows it’s OK to say “stop” if anyone is touching her that she doesn’t want to, but always feel like I could do more.
    If it helps others, I have found “Protecting the Gift” to be very useful in formulating what to do if you suspect abuse, and how to talk about it with your kids.
    This whole thing makes me sick to my stomach every time I think about it. Thanks for the post, Moxie. It’s cathartic.

  16. @Sheila – Seconding @monkeymama’s and several other Moxites’ past recommendations of Gavin de Becker’s “Protecting the Gift.” In fact, I just referenced that book IRL in a long email to my friend who is hiring a nanny for the first time – de Becker devotes a portion of his book to the kinds of questions to ask childcare providers.

  17. I feel physical pain for those boys every time I hear an update on the story. And I’m sickened by the student protestors. I don’t care – all the good joe paterno may have done as a football coach – he’s a human being and father first and he failed miserably at both. It’s the harshest I’ve ever felt towards someone in a news story like this. It really, really hit a nerve with me.

  18. Is it just me or does anyone else wonder HOW so many cases of abuse there are? It sickens me to think so many men do this to children. I just can’t believe that people can do this. How can it be prevented? How can those who have these tendencies be helped before they act???I think of this often when I am checking the child molestation registry to make sure no one in my neighborhood is on the list.
    My heart goes out to the victims.

  19. I work as a childcare provider in a school age program. I’ve had a lot of training over the years on reporting/detecting sexual abuse in children. I have 2 kids of my own and am a single mom. Here’s the thing: It’s GREAT to talk to our kids about appropriate touch and boundaries, but let’s not put it all on them. It is NEVER their fault, and knowing that what is happening to them is wrong won’t make it any easier for them to bear or escape. We need to be careful as parents, and trust our instincts.One big red flag for me when looking at care providers for my own children is overly friendly staff who want to form relationships with me outside of the care setting. Sexual predators don’t just groom the kids, they groom the families. I bet Sandusky had great rapport with the families of those boys. I imagine when one of the boys finally talked to his family, they were met with some initial disbelief because he was so engaged and involved and a positive influence. The vast, vast majority of pedophiles/sexual predators have no criminal record and usually work in a position of trust with children. Many are religious leaders or coaches. So yes, check the sex offender registry, talk to your kids, but trust your gut. Ask your older kids how the adults who take care of them in your stead make them feel, if any of those adults give you an uneasy feeling, even if they are relatives.
    We can’t be there every second of the day, but we can trust our guts and be there for our kids.

  20. I’m not really following the story – just what I hear on the 5 minute news blurb on NPR. I know my head’s in the sand, but I’m also a little happy not to be burdened with details. But, I’ve read all the comments here and want to chime in – Sheila, it’s not at all weird to talk to your 1-year-old. I have done the same thing. My kids are 3.75 and 1.75 right now. And carmie, thanks for the new perspective. I think you are right-on about not putting it all on our kids, but it’s a perspective I haven’t considered before.It really sucks that we have to be suspicious of everyone and not ever really trust anybody. It also really sucks that when we talk with our kids, what we’re really doing is clueing them in to ugly nastiness.

  21. preface … i have absolutely no foundation for this ramble, just my “impression” from the comments here, and I’m just throwing this out there.Is there any possibility at all of this being a socioeconomic class-ist problem?
    i.e. 1 ) kids being abused were underprivileged/at-risk, 2) Abuser was a person of authority, both over the kids, and over the witnesses, and 3) Witnesses (and possibly other suspicious folks) just decided that the victims were not worth risking career/status over?
    This lack of reporting, intervening, or just DOING something really makes it seem like the ones that knew what was happening considered the children to be “disposable”.
    Ugh… probably should mulled this over a little more, but I’m posting anyway.

  22. @Carmie, thanks for sharing that. I’d never considered the possibility of a predator grooming the families as well and that’s something I’ll keep in mind as my son gets older.

  23. @Bird and michaela- are either of you in Maine?I too have purposely tried to keep my head in the sand and just reading these comments and the original post… I can’t get it out of my head either but I have to because I feel like I can’t handle it. My son just turned a year old. I can’t imagine someone hurting him, or maybe I can but it fills me with RAGE and FEAR and HORROR.

  24. Thanks for bringing this up, Moxie. I am filled with disgust, rage and fear. How am I supposed to ever let my almost 5 year old go without me on overnight camping trips or overnight extracurricular trips that are supposed to be a normal part of being a kid when I feel unable to trust ANYONE?I have Protecting the Gift sitting out and need to read it. I also signed up for an email series about child sexual abusers from http://www.enoughabuse.org . The only thing I can do is educate and empower myself and my child, and trust my instincts. I hope that will be enough.

  25. I too am deeply disturbed by the incident, and looking to find more that we as parents can do, I found a source called Darkness to Light. It says that 1 in 4 kids will be sexually molested by the time they turn 18. It also points out that this usually happens by someone the child knows, and oftentimes, someone the parent knows. The abuse is able to happen when our children are in a situation in which they’re alone with an adult. But we can’t always avoid that. Anyway, here’s a link with more info if anyone is interested:www.d2l.org

  26. I am scared to read Protecting the Gift, even though I have it. Stupid, I know, but the couple of pages I flipped through just filled me with huge worry/stress. I know he’s probably got stuff in there on HOW to deal with it, but I just couldn’t get past the “real life stories.” Sigh.I realized that hearing stories about horrible things happening to kids is 20x worse now that I have one. So I’m trying not to absorb the sordid details the news likes to report. I am definitely not planning to read that grand jury report.
    I do think we’re in danger of becoming numb to some of these things, when the details are so casually provided on the Internet, or when shows like Law and Order go into graphic details.
    Re: Anna’s comment about socio-economic factors, I think she has a point. I’m guessing that none of the adults saw much of a legal threat here. It would have been a whole different story if it was happening to the kids of the rich donors, etc.
    I’m from Pennsylvania, so I have a lot of people in my FB feed making excuses. Ridiculous.

  27. I have a 12 year old boy (as well as 9 and 6 year old boys), but the 12 year old is just starting to really go out and do things on his own. When they are little it’s so easy to keep your eye on every.little.thing they do. But now that he’s older, he is (rightfully) testing out his independence. That’s so hard for me as a mom – how to help him stretch his wings and grow – yet not scare him to death either. He’s a very cautious kid who is aware of things around him. We’ve had The Talk with him many times over the years. But it’s still scary. And it’s scary to think of adults that we know and trust could do something so awful to our children.

  28. Reading all this, I agree (fear, horror, outrage)–but I also find myself thinking, what if this is, horrifying as it as, the way people are? Adults sexually abuse kids. All the time. Everywhere. It’s always been silenced, covered up. And of course, it’s mostly been dads and brothers abusing daughters and sisters. And every time it happens, we’re shocked, shocked! What would happen if, instead of seeing these incidents as horrifying aberrations, we saw them as regularly occurring and yet unacceptable events. How could we prepare for them differently? Not as individual parents trying to teach individual kids who are too young to defend themselves how to navigate situations we can hardly wrap our minds around, but more systematic preparations? Janet Malcolm’s book “In the Freud Archives,” describes the scandal (in the insulated world of New York analysts) over Jeffrey Masson’s contention that Freud revised his initial hypothesis that most if not all of his young, female patients were telling the truth when they reported various forms of what we’d now call sexual abuse. According to Masson, Freud did this for venal reasons–the dads were paying his bills, so he needed to believe that their daughers’ stories were fantasies, not reality. But what if Freud, like us, were simply horrified by the recognition that this kind of behavior (sexual betrayals within the family, violations of the incest taboo) was so widespread? What if he were too horrified, finally, to accept it? Sorry for this screed, but I’ve thought a lot about this, and the cycles of denial, horror, and fear seem so fruitless.

  29. As a parent one of my biggest fears is that one of my children will fall victim to a sexual predator. We are trying, my husband and I, to instill a very open dialogue with our kids so they never feel afraid to tell us anything but I know, too, that the guilt that an abuse victim feels will often supercede any ability they may have to talk to us about it.We mention often that it is not okay for anyone to touch his “private parts” as he is currently referring to them (5yo) and if anyone ever does, or tries to, you tell me or daddy right away, etc. It really, really, terrifies me. I’m probably very over protective of my kids because of my fear, to be honest. I’m VERY suspicious of teachers, administrators, and most anyone who talks to my kids. I tend to think they have alterior motives.
    As for this case in particular, I think it’s just another prime example of what our society values. Football, millions of dollars, legendary coaches, definitely. Poor needy children, not so much. Unless of course, they become football players.

  30. @michaela- (not trying to hijack this thread, sorry Moxie et al) if you feel comfortable, please get in touch with me via my blog? I’m in mid-coast Maine and I’m looking for… local people who might have similar interests, experiences, etc. Same goes for Bird. Thanks in advance. Sorry again to intrude!

  31. I am very disturbed by this story as well. What worries me is wondering how many people are being retraumatized by watching this story unfold because they were victims of child sexual abuse. I am a medical provider and have seen numerous patients in the past few weeks who have been retraumatized.So, as we all “discuss” this case, let’s remember that many people will be disturbed by this story for very personal and deeply hurtful reasons.

  32. Just throwing this out there….in your discussions of not having people touch your child inappropriately are you also mentioning that they should not be asked to touch others in that same way?

  33. We collected items we loved. That made us feel good and we did not especially want to get rich on them. And we never spent a fortune on them. He bought a 1940? AC tractor and combine from a collectible business. It is big, but I just can’t remember it’s name right now. It cost him $375, but it was an exact replica of one his father bought new and used. When my husband died, it went to one of his brothers and will stay in the family. We feel they were worth every bit of what they cost to us, as they brought us wonderful memories.

  34. I admit I try and keep the story at a distance for a whole host of reasons. But I am thinking about how to start the conversation with my own very young children about good touch/bad touch. What to say. I have always been firm with them that if they don’t want to be touched they have every right to say so and it should be respected. (like if someone doesn’t want to be tickled or doesn’t want to give a hug/kiss, it is more than all right to feel that way and have their boundaries respected)How does one begin the conversation “Hey there are scary people out there” but without inspiring a great big fear of the world.

  35. When I think of Sandusky and what he was doing, it’s so awful it makes me sick. But that man is ill. He needs to be put somewhere where he can’t hurt any more kids. Even worse to me is the non-action of the people who knew. These are people who are not in the grip of a mental illness. They are capable adults who took the easy way out. I’m sorry, I am a whistleblower type. If I saw something, I’d be running to the police, not to my boss. I would have run into that shower and decked the man and taken that boy out of there. I know I would have because I reported a teacher who tried for years to get me into bed and finally grabbed me and french kissed me during a voice lesson. I reported him and I know that that laid the groundwork for him losing his job. The next time he did it (and he was a compulsive lech, I knew he’d do it again) he was fired.Articles like the NY Times disturb me almost as much as the molestation and the non-action of the people who knew. Because it almost makes it OKAY for someone to do nothing. The author is saying that inaction is normal for humans. NO IT IS NOT!! What is normal is to run in there and rescue the child, regardless of what would happen to oneself. This is how we preserve ourselves as humans. We save the children. We have compassion.
    Ask any 6 year old. You beat up the bad guys, save the kids, and send the bad guys to jail. That is what is right. Anyone who doesn’t do everything in their power to act like a superhero is a coward. I don’t care if you will lose your job (and you won’t, if you save that kid), there are other jobs. But that kid only will have one childhood and one life. Save him.

  36. This story is very sad and scary. But it’s also just the tip of the iceberg, and that’s what I try to keep in mind–it’s something we MUST NOT let happen, but it’s something that happens ALL THE TIME. Thus, while I recognize that feeling of not being able to imagine it for our own children…I think we have to get over that or they will never be able to tell us if they DO get abused, b/c we can’t countenance it. I LOVE Gavin de Becker and Protecting the Gift. He says, you know, you CAN trust people…but you also MUST teach not only yourself but your children to take action when you DON’T trust someone–don’t feel bad about not trusting them, don’t let them stay in your life if you can’t figure out WHY you can’t trust them, don’t protect them from your distrust and make excuses for them…just don’t trust them, get rid of them, period. Thus it disturbs me when kids are constantly expected to put up with whatever adults want to do with them in a non-abuse scenario (tickling, kissing, hugs from virtual strangers aka aunts/uncles/grandparents who live far away, etc).If we want to save our children, and the world’s children, from abuse, we have to stop acting like this is an aberration, and start trusting ourselves and our kids and admitting that people we know do these things–and then make them stop.
    I want to just send everyone out there some love and good, kind thoughts. Peace be with you.

  37. I live in Pennsylvania, which has collectively been totally floored by this — every day more would come out about what’s happened, and everyone gets angrier and angrier — and the steady drip-drip-drip of more horrifying details, the obviousness that not everyone can be telling the truth — it’s mind-boggling.I also get frustrated with the media for how this is being discussed. It was not a “shower incident,” it was the rape of a child. This is not a sex scandal, it is a tragedy of immense proportions. How dare anyone say anything about “healing” beginning at Penn State? HEALING? Those kids are permanently damaged! Also, WTH did NBC see fit to air an interview with Sandusky? He too is entitled to the presumption of innocence, but there is nothing, NOTHING to be gained by hearing from him now except the satisfaction of prurient curiosity, and maybe ratings – while his victims and victims everywhere are re-traumatized.
    I hope very much the national conversation will turn to how this kind of cover-up can be avoided at universities in the future. The very idea that universities have some kind of investigative power that precluded calling the police FIRST is, I believe, one of the factors that precipitated the whole sorry situation.
    But the truth is, as several have pointed out, that this happens all the time — this just happens to be a very high-profile example. A friend of mine works in developing policy for dealing with sex crimes and victims, and she says that the average number of people who know a child is being sexually abused before it is reported is 16. SIXTEEN people! Can you imagine?

  38. I made the mistake of reading the first few pages of the grand jury report. I feel physically ill every time I think about it. We are trying, my husband and I, to instill a very open dialogue with our kids so they never feel afraid to tell us anything but I know, too.

  39. “With some deft outreach and some hard work, even the angry students on the streets this week are likely to become, like their predecessors, happy and loyal supporters,” he said. “Colleges and universities are much bigger than any one individual or scandal. Their crises become part of their history.

  40. @ARC I could not get through Protecting the Gift. I was super sleep deprived, had an infant and a toddler, and was a general basket case, but that book sent me into paranoid hyperdrive. Like I was convinced that when my husband went to comfort my 2 year old daughter at 5 am that he was molesting her. Finally I just got it out of my house.She’s 7 now; I should probably try again.

  41. I have 2 nieces that are about 9 and 13 years old and my Mom would always remind them that they have to protect themselves from just a simple touch from a stranger, someone they trusted, and even their own “guy” friends. It is so sad to have these children be a victim by some pervert person.

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