Jerry Sandusky was convicted of multiple counts of child abuse. But what about the victims who had to be so brave as to tell the story of their humiliation and victimization? Each one had to revisit the memory which could re-traumatize and reactivate symptoms depending on where they are on their healing journey.
They, hopefully, will continue to heal and recover. As I prepare to do a video shoot on sexual abuse, rape and incest, a few notes to come to mind:
1) Every 2 minutes someone in the US is sexually assaulted (RAINN)
2) Approximately 2/3rds of all sexual assaults are committed by someone who knows the victim
3) Healing usually follows four phases
a) Telling the story and reviewing how the victim responded during the attack- the victims had to do this during the trial.
b) Dealing with acute reactions like shock, mood changes, isolation, etc. Even though the abuse happened years ago, the symptoms associated can be intense and impairing.
c) Reorganization in which the victim tries to make sense of what happened and deals with intrusive symptoms like flashbacks.
d) Resolution and integration in which the victim takes action, processes the trauma and memory, and moves to a place where the perpetrator doesn’t have power over the victim any more.
My prayer for each person who testified is that resolution and integration can finally take place. That each one will be free of nightmares, anger, fear, helplessness, depression, sleeping and eating disturbances, and other fall outs from sexual abuse. That as they choose to forgive their abuser (the memory remains, but the power of the memory lessens when forgiveness is released) and let go of bitterness, resentment and anger, that they will see the gift they give themselves by forgiving. Forgiving doesn’t mean what Sandusky did was OK, it doesn’t mean his behavior in any way minimizes the damage and wounding, it doesn’t mean that his behavior is condoned in any way–it means that each individual can finally move on and release the burden. Healing is usually a process in which layers of hurt and violation are uncovered and worked through.
Let’s pray this court decision is part of a process that moves the victims closer to that healing.