What Should Penn State Do?

At least 1 in 6 men in the US are sexually abused as boys. Most will never disclose this. Most will never seek treatment. You know someone who was sexually abused as a boy. Please just know this.

I’m a psychotherapist in private practice in Pasadena, CA. I work extensively with male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. I’m also a doctoral candidate at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and writing my dissertation, Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse and Psychotherapy: Why Men Don’t Show Up.

Someone asked me today, what can Penn State do to really help the victims anyway?

I have a client who was part of the Catholic Church abuse situation. He actually received over 1 million in compensation from them, and he has a lot to say about what they could have done. Both he as his brother were sexually abused by two priests when they were boys. He is now 48 and says that he would give back all the money, and then give that much again, if it would mean he and his brother were never abused. He wishes the church would have found him help earlier in his life, like therapy, that such resources and knowledge of trauma and healing from abuse would have been more valuable to him than the money.

So, I think Penn State could do at least four things. They could make sure all of the victims, and their families, and their future families, have access to resources like therapists, specialists, online survivor communities (malesurvivor.org, 1in6.org), other organizations that provide healing to survivors, groups, education, etc. This is the most important thing they could do.

Then, they could pay for it. They could pay for all the therapy, not just for the victims, but their families, their future partners or wives, their children. All will be impacted by this for years to come, and all could benefit from therapy and other resources. Penn State should give enough money for everyone impacted by this situation to recover as much as they can and as much as they want to.

Thirdly, they should do research. With such a powerful university, with facilities and people to do research, they should do a case study analysis of how their institution, and others, allow such things to happen. How is it possible that these individuals, who I bet are not bad people, but loving and kind and compassionate people, cover up such a horrible thing? There is something that happens in institutions that seems like a cover up. But what is it, how does it happen? They should study this, and publish it, and make sure their findings are disseminated to other institutions, other universities, other groups.

Finally, they should initiate or be part of an educational and informative campaign. Over the past several years, there has been an effort to educate the public about male childhood sexual abuse. Penn State should join that effort, both financially and in action. Oprah was part of it last year with her two-part special on the subject. Penn State should find ways to continue this effort. Bring knowledge of the reality of male childhood sexual abuse to the public, there at Penn State, to faculty, staff, students, the community, and to the larger community, via public service announcements during their games, conventions and recruiting efforts, etc.

At least 1 in 6 men in the US are sexually abused as boys. Most will never disclose this. Most will never seek treatment. You know someone who was sexually abused as a boy. Please just know this.

I think there is a lot Penn State could do and should do to mitigate the pain these victims will suffer. There is a lot they can do.

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