Last week as I scrolled through the Sandusky grand jury report, I couldn’t help but to think of a friend of mine. He was one of the first people I met when I moved to Maryland about 8 years ago. We immediately hit it off and became really close friends. A few months into our friendship he told me about the abuse he suffered at the hands of a male family friend, from the time he was 6 until he was 11. He didn’t tell anyone about this abuse until he was a college student and at the insistence of his therapist.
In college he developed an addiction to drugs and sex. Both of which abused his body. He didn’t know what a healthy relationship consisted of. The men he involved himself with were always old enough to be his father and knew they were taking advantage of his insecurities and aided in his drug abuse.
After divulging information about his abuse to his parents, instead of being supportive, they ostracized him and went into denial. Where he thought he would receive hugs of encouragement, he instead received arms extended from his parents that forged a distance between them.
Years later, although he had long given up drugs, he still hadn’t come to terms with other demons in his life. By the time I met him, I saw the self destructive behavior and experienced it first hand. I remember urging him to get back into therapy and get rid of some of the bad influences in his life.
In 2006, my friend died from a lethal combination of heroin and prescription drugs. At his funeral I saw his mother walk up to the casket to hug him. The hug he received in death was what he yearned for in life.
So many times, sexual abuse either goes unreported or it’s not even acknowledged when it is reported. Although the percentage of sexual assault among boys is drastically less than that amongst girls, it is still prevalent.
Whatever the outcome of this Penn State mess, it is shedding a light on the fact that sexual abuse doesn’t discriminate and that there shouldn’t be a stigma of shame when it comes to coming forward.
I cried for my friend as I was reading the grand jury report. I cried for my own son in hopes that he will never come across predators in his life and I cried for the boys that are now grown men that carried this Penn State experience around with them for so many years.