Getting Past the Biggest Block

11 December 2011


I have been trying to write this post for a while. Since November 5th actually as that was the day that one of my heroes was knocked of his perch and the resulting scandal landed too close to me.

I have viewed the seedy world of college football as an avid fan, a recruit and a player. I always placed Joe Paterno in the too short column of good guys. We now know that there is an irremovable tarnish on his once sterling reputation. Any adult who knowingly abdicates our collective and inherent moral obligation to protect children deserves a reserved corner in hell.

While it is easy to conjure ex post facto outrage, the three big reasons that prevent child sexual abuse from being the light our hair on fire issue that it should be are: the abusers almost always have friendly faces, the abused almost never have faces, and the abused often allow silence to be the second abuser.

He wasn’t a beloved football coach with a child-focused charity, he was a priest with a youth group in his charge. It wasn’t in a field house shower, it was the church rectory. It followed the same too worn path: find vulnerable child, groom with attention, then affection, make incremental moves across a line until a confused child forgets where it is. Just writing these words ties knots in my stomach.

I do not write this post seeking your sympathies. I write because I am no longer willing to let my silence continue to victimize me. I write because I am willing to stand with survivors everywhere. I write to be another face for the faceless. I write because more than 25 years, and a life well lived later, this still makes cry in a fucking coffee-shop as I type. I write this post because I feared I might never be able to write anything else if I didn’t write this.