The Washington Post

Penn State scandal raises the question: Should molestation victims ‘come out’?

Students at Penn State hold a candlelight vigil for the victims. (The Washington Post)

He ends the letter with a reminder to stay strong on the witness stand and with a sentence that sounds wishful, “If every man who has ever been molested would speak up, you would see that we’re all around you.”

Perry, who has spoken out about his molestation before, posits an intriguing idea: Should victims come forward to speak about their experiences to help encourage others?

Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant football coach at Penn State University, has been charged with abusing boys over a span of 15 years. Though Sandusky has publicly denied the accusations, the situation has been credited with inspiring other victims to come forward to talk.

The Post’s Petula Dvorak reports that the news has one silver lining: It’s encouraging victims to come forward and share their stories. At one national sex abuse hotline, the phones are ringing 54 percent above the usual rate.

It’s also creating a dominoes-like effect: A Syracuse University assistant basketball coach was fired after similar accusations were made against him. The first accuser said he was inspired by the boys in the Sandusky case.

A similar pattern happened after the 2002 case of an abusive priest in the Archdiocese of Boston. That one accusation set off a firestorm of reports from which the Catholic Church is still recovering.

On Twitter this week, celebrity blogger Sandra Rose momentarily became a celebrity herself when a tweet about molestation went viral. “Let’s face it, who wasn’t molested as a child? We all were,” she wrote. “But you don’t become a lifelong victim, you move on and you leave it behind you.” Her name became a trending topic as many of her followers chastised her for what they saw as a blithe, and untrue, response to the situation. She quickly recanted and wrote she should have only said “many of us were.”

Rose, who wrote she was a victim of molestation herself, is not far off. One in six men have been sexually abused by the time they are 18, Chris Davies, a counselor at Fairfax County’s Office for Women & Domestic and Sexual Violence Services, told The Post’s Dvorak.

As Perry suggests, if those men were to all come forward, it would be about 17 million men in the United States.


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