Tuesday, November 15, 2011

False Heroes

I wrote the post below Sunday night and then decided not to share it. I am reluctant to add to the darkness of the world.. Yet I keep coming back to it.
I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Of violence and neglect. So was my sister. She killed herself when she was 25.

As the days after the revelation of crimes against children unfold I find so very little real concern for the victims. So little true awareness of how this changes and molds and contaminates a young life and how hard it is to survive this.

So I share my feelings with you – unchanged since Sunday except now I’m angrier.

It seems fitting to follow a post about real heroes with one about fake icons.

I didn’t think I had anything to say about the horror of child abuse by Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky but as this weekend progressed and I got more information and saw the absurdity of the Paterno worship I truly thought my head would explode.

First of all the media needs to stop calling this a “sex scandal”. Consenting adults were not discovered screwing under the bleachers. Children were brutally attacked.

It might be a scandal to the powers that be at the university but it is a crime to anyone with a brain cell. A crime left unreported. A crime allowed to continue for years. I guess Penn State got its play book from the Catholic Church.

When I first heard about this I thought the graduate student coach mentioned had heard about an attack. No, he saw an attack happening and did nothing. This giant athletic man could do nothing to stop a man twice his age and in seemingly typical fat sloppy ex-player shape from attacking a child?

He’s been programmed well.

No one went to the police. Ever. Not the President of the university. Not any of the athletic directors. Not the man who saw an attack.

And not the man who so many are now mourning for and dedicating last games to and holding vigils for.

In the crowd at Penn State’s last football game I saw this sign

"Two of my favorite 'J's' in life: Jesus and Joe Pa."


I think these students are old enough to stop and think about their heroes. I think they’re old enough to get over the notion that one man has the power to make them sports idols or real men.

Even better they need to get over the belief that being a sports idol makes you a real man.

This young woman gets it.

Yet she felt she had to wear sunglasses and a hat and not give out her name.

Perhaps she should be a hero.

Or this young couple.

“Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime”
~ Herbert Ward


DJan said...

Whoa. This is so powerful, Dianne, and I am so sorry for the loss of your sister and your own horrible abuse. I too was puzzled by the response of the students.

Although I have never myself been abused, I know how devastating it can be to the lives of those who were. I had a conversation at my local coffee shop with a young man who was also surprised and confused at the response of the students who apparently had no sympathy or understanding of the crime.

Ivanhoe said...

What I will never understand is that so many people saw or heard and did nothing. If I caught this em-effer or any other for that matter - I don't think I could even restrain myself and not to kick his a** right there. So sad to know that football is some University's priority...over kids.

ellen abbott said...

With sincere apologies to all the truly good men out there, I still have to ask. what the fuck is wrong with men? Both those men should be imprisoned, the one who did it and the one who knew about it and did nothing. Isn't that called 'aiding and abetting'?

nitebyrd said...

Dianne, this is a perfect post. I'm very glad you decided to publish it.

The sign that young couple is holding up is brilliant and sums up the whole Penn State thing perfectly.

How can anyone hold these men in high regard, not for what they did for the University, but for what they didn't do to help the children.

Jeni said...

As you are prone to do with your posts, you hit the nail on the head! Last week was a very frustrating time -in my head! I had a multitude of emotions raging about there flipping back and forth from sorrow to anger and to shame. First and foremost, those children -how horrible to have to deal with something like that. I am sorry to a small extent that a man who had for so many years created one image of himself and then, forgot one of the most important tenets in that role -being able to forget about image and calling the police, pushing for some action about investigating this travesty. At times, it does seem that Paterno is the one being punished the most in this whole sordid mess because all Sandusky's experienced thus far is a bit of damage to his home -a window broken and someone evidently egged the house over the weekend. The others involved forgot the same law in the state of PA as did Paterno -the mandate to report even a hint/suspicion of any kind of child abuse! My older grandson and I had a big discussion about this mess and how difficult it is for kids when things like this happen -especially to young boys because there are so many other factors that come into play when this happens to them. Not saying it's a walk in the park for young girls but for boys, there is more shame built in to this for them to feel they must deal with. What would I have done in McQueary's shoes? I'd like to think I'd have been able to think straight enough to have tried to stop the attack, that I'd at the very least gone and called for the police to come to the scene but until we are -any of us -faced with a horrific situation, we don't really know exactly how we will respond in the moment. By the no-actions of these people though, in an effort apparently to not bring Penn State into any bad light, poor publicity, etc., they have created a scene that does exactly the opposite and the worst of that being children left behind in their wake, to deal with this virtually alone. It is all one big mind-boggling thing to try to figure out what steps would be the best to take for prevention in the future and help in the present for those in need.

Bijoux said...

Amen to everything you said. It's heartbreaking. I don't know whether to pin the blame on some assinine male code, the church of sports or the almighty dollar. Probably a combination of the three.

Jay Simser said...

Again I find myself thanking you for your insightful, thoughtful post. I find the worship of Sports and sports figures to be one of the things wrong with our society. More money is spent on them and the venues in which they perform than on education. Every little school seems to have a big expensive gym,

The picture of the young couple also got me. Because I saw the child on their lap. I wish for him a brighter future than the victims of abuse have. Hugs,

I'm With Stupid said...

I saw a video of some kid going up to Joe Paterno's house and kneeling down and praying on the front lawn. WTF? I'll just never understand that shit.

The whole story is just disgusting. And worst of all is that this protect the institution (and our jobs)first mindset exists everywhere from colleges to corporations to the govt to the Church.


Ron said...

"It might be a scandal to the powers that be at the university but it is a crime to anyone with a brain cell. A crime left unreported. A crime allowed to continue for years. I guess Penn State got its play book from the Catholic Church"


It's NOT a sex scandel. It's an out and out right CRIME.

As Nitebyrd shared..."The sign that young couple is holding up is brilliant and sums up the whole Penn State thing perfectly."

Thank you so much for sharing this, Dianne. It needed to be said.


Mike said...

'He’s been programmed well.'

That's the problem with people in general. They program easily. No thinking nessecary.

Sylvia K said...

I am so glad you posted this, Dianne. It did/does need to be said again and again. Like Mike I think people in general have been programed -- No Thinking Necessary! I watch the news and can't believe what I am seeing and hearing???? How could a sport and those connected to it take precedence over these young mens lives???? I hurt for you and for the sister you lost and I'm so glad Hope has you for a grandmother -- she most certainly will not be abused in her home!

I have been and continue to be so sickened by this whole disgusting affair and wonder just what will change in the end??


ds said...

What will become of the children? Excellent point, excellent post. Brava, Dianne (emphasis on brave)!

Happy Elf Mom said...

Love you. Emailed you. I am just sorry for all the families, even this guy's. Because what on earth. Just... why.

Rambling Woods said...

I don't think you added darkness as much as honesty and I admire you for that. I was not sexually abused as a child but physically and emotionally and so many people knew and did nothing. It sent my sibling to drugs and I thought I would lose her, but she survived and is going really well. I am so angry about this situation that I can't express it. It makes me sick ....hugs...

Tracy said...

What a courageous post and I applaud you! I am so sincerely sorry for your haunts of childhood and as equally as sorry for the loss of your sister. That's what 'these' people who continue to worship Joe Paterno and all those who did NOTHING just don't get..there are children, young boys who's lives will never ever be the same. We will lose some through the torments of the mind who won't be able to recover and will turn to alcohol or drugs if they haven't already and we may well lose one to suicide; God forbid. and all because no one, NO ONE did a damn thing to protect any of those boys. Yes, football is king, and aren't we all proud...a sirty rotten shame!
Thank you Dianne!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Oh Dianne....I am so sorry to read about the loss of your dear sister and the fact that both of you were sexually abused as children....
It is obvious from this Penn State Horror Show that people's concerns are in the wrong pew, so to speak. That this could have gone on and on and on---and nobody did anything....And even now, this is not being treated like the true crime it is---says so much about the lack of morals in our country. What happened was so very wrong in every way---immmoral in the extreme---yet the people 'in charge' seem to take it all very lightly. It certainly does appear that they have all taken their cue from The Catholic Church.
I do not understand this lack of a moral compass in all of these people. I just don't get it!
The damage done---as you said, lasts a lifetime. To shove this under the rug for all the years they did---And even now, the Perpetrator is denying that he did anything wrong....It is enough to make your head explode!!!
Thank you for writing this, my dear....I am glad you decided to post this---It Is Sooo Very Important, though so deeply painful for you. You are such a brave person, my dear. Sending (((((((HUGS))))))).

Hilary said...

The whole thing is unfathomable, sickening and so disheartening for a society that is supposed to value its children above all else. I'm sorry for your own pain and loss, my friend. This has to pick so cruelly at your wounds. I hurt for you. I hurt for those kids.

Au and Target said...

It's very brave of you to speak openly about your experiences of abuse. You will inspire others to speak out, and hopefully get the help, protection and support they need. I can't understand how anyone can do that to someone. And your poor sister! Dreadful.

I had to go check the news to see what this was about and I must say it has me baffled. I still don't quite understand what happened, but if teachers were in with kids in the school showers, and this is not acceptable in your culture, then how come so many people saw this and did nothing? Something doesn't seem right.

It's also interesting to note that "where" has a lot to do with "wrong".

In my British schools teachers never showered with students on the premises but when we were in the communal shower areas in the public baths/swimming pools in town, EVERYONE was in the showers - mums, teachers, kids etc. Only the sexes were segregated, and that was only after the age of 6 or so. We didn't have showers in my Dutch schools but we did all dive into the communal showers at the public baths just in the same way we did in Scotland.

For some reason it's icky to my mind for teachers to share shower areas with kids in school but not in public. Relationship power issue maybe?

Linda Reeder said...

Good for you! And hugs to you as a survivor.
I posted something similar two days ago on my blog if you want to check it out.

HermanTurnip said...

Nobody did anything because they were blinded by a shiny bauble called "football" and their love for their mythic Penn State.

People really need to get their priorities in order. What's a game of football next to the innocence of a child?

This whole thing really disturbs me. It's getting to the point where I really question the good in people.

And to Penn State and their hardline stance....too little too late. May you be tarnished forever.

Cherie said...

You're so right. As a fellow survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I can attest that it affects the course of the rest of one's life. (Not that the rest of life has to be tragic, but it's certainly in the mix.) As I highly limit my news media exposure, I couldn't understand the controversy of the Penn State scandal. The only thing I'm confused about is why they're not all up on conspiracy charges. What's most horrible is that this kind of thing happens every day.

Grayquill said...

Evil stuff, painful stuff, horrible stuff, huge loss! The letters are getting a bit blurry as I am attempting to place these letters onto the screen. I am so sorry! Life is not suppose to be like that.
There are no words to make this better.
If there is a time for anger, this is it.

Daryl said...

thank you for deciding to post this .. you echo my anger and my one cry throughout this: 'if that guy had stopped what he saw and reported it to the cops all the others that animal molested would have been saved'

today I heard the animal insist he did nothing wrong .. and the guy who saw it now insists he did stop it ..

You know now I dont care about them, all I care is that those raped get help getting past it and that animal gets sent to jail

Marg said...

I am so glad you did this post. More people need to talk about this and the kids that were molested. It is just terrible that they cover up things like this. It is horrible. I totally agree with you on all points. They should all go to jail and stay there.

Akelamalu said...

I know EXACTLY where you're coming from Dianne. :(

Tabor said...

While I never crossed the dark side of this world I am so angry at how this was all handled. You are correct in that it should be termed child abuse scandal or rape scandal. My husband even muttered about how he wasn't sure this could destroy someone's whole life and I tried to give him a feel for the impotence and fear and probably nightmares that would result in forms of PTSD for years and years. I am so sorry you were robbed of part of your childhood and I wish I was near and could rock and hug that little person.

Vinny "Bond" Marini said...

At the least Morally bankrupt all of the leaders at that fine school. But I would love to see McQuery, Paterno and the rest also face criminal charges for aiding and abetting

And today I hear that 4 months ago Paterno sold his house to his wife for $1

Planning ahead I guess for the lawsuits against him

Hilary said...

I don't even know what to say. There are no words.
There are horrible people in the world, and that's a fact.
I hate it as well. I can't stand to see it on TV.
It is hard to keep focused on all the good there is, in the face of it.
Thinking of you tonight.

Cloudia said...

wise powerful post. Sorry you carry these scars. You are a strong advocate and have touched many I'm sure with your words and witness.

Warm Aloha to you my sister,
from Honolulu

Comfort Spiral

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Linda said...

My good friend Rhonda and I were discussing this topic over breakfast yesterday and she said almost the same thing as you when it came to this scandal and those of the Catholic Church. Neither one of us can understand why one single person didn't stand up and say "This is horribly wrong" and go to the police.

Is football really that important in the big picture of things? Is any sport more important than the lives of young men (or women)? I sure the hell don't think so but sometimes I feel I am definitely in the minority.

Imaginography said...

Very moving Dianne. I am so sorry for the loss of your sister years ago and I am sorry for all the current victims of abuse.

I am not very familiar with the story or coverage being in the UK, but I am puzzled by the medias use of the term scandal. Seems they are looking at it from the Universities point of view and not the victims. That says a lot about system of authority. It also partially explains the other students strange reaction. he set himself up as a great man publicly and that is the "truth" they perceive. Of course the victims know the real truth. It's a conspiracy of authority and public image that those poor victims could not have a chance of fighting.

Granny Annie said...

Today you have done a eloquent job of speaking for the victims.

Reb said...

Well said Dianne! I am saddened to hear that you have such intimate knowledge of the subject. Maybe as a bit of justice for praying to false idols (football) the field at Penn State should be paved over!