The Secondary Evil of the Sandusky Trial


“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”  Winston Churchill

So the Penn State scandal with Jerry Sandusky story is raining out headlines with vivid and graphic details given in the prosecution’s testimonies from the victim’s memories of their interactions with the former coach.  They are shocking accounts, gross, inhuman and a description of personified evil.  It is difficult to imagine a world in which children are not safe, let alone a world where they are preyed upon by those entrusted to care and shape their development into adulthood.  The stories make your stomach turn, they are difficult to read or listen to.  If the accounts are true, Jerry Sandusky mis-used his God-given free will to enact evil on children.  In addition, driven by motivations of fear and pride, the administration did nothing to protect these children; they colluded to enact systemic evil in their free-will.  The victims will have a lifetime of recovery and rehabilitiation emotionally and psychologically.  The story is overwhelmingly sad. 

But that is not where the story ends.  The stories are not just public record, they are broadcasted in vivid detail on radio, television and print news.  There is a secondary evil in the Sandusky trial.  Every person, particularly children, who have been abused in their past re-live their abusers mis-use of power over them through the power of memory.  Some victims have never come public with their stories of abuse and it is particularly painful for them.  The power of the secret typically manifests itself in obsessive behavior and keeps them trapped in a destructive pattern of silence.  Other victims, even after having experienced years of emotional and psychological healing, now living productive lives of freedom, can still experience moments of re-lived trauma just in the listening to the story of abuse from another. 

As the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape reports  :

“For survivors of sexual assault, the details of the alleged child sexual abuse and the continuous buzz about the story have the potential to prompt a different kind of fallout — triggering or reliving the trauma of their own assault.”

I’m just an individual, but I wanted to just express my human sorrow for victims out there who are re-living their trauma through the re-telling of the Sandusky story.  I just wanted to say that it’s not your fault, you are not alone and there is real hope and freedom for your future.  I stand in solidarity with you, you are not a victim, you are free. 

 “When we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilize them into a common search for life, those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope” – Henri Nouwen  

This is the prayer I pray for those formerly victim friends of mine who are experiencing a re-traumatization.  Go through it fully, on the other end is the freedom you seek, that is our shared hope.  You are not alone.