The son of disgraced former Penn State Assistant Football Coach Jerry Sandusky challenged the stereotype of what makes a man and urged society to take on the delicate issue of sexual child abuse during a visit to the University of Nebraska-Kearney.
Matthew Sandusky was the guest speaker Tuesday at UNK’s 26th annual Criminal Justice Conference.
Sandusky stated the culture in which he was raised prevented him from coming forward about abuse in the home.
“Being tough and, you know, you get to talk however you want to talk, talk dirty and be mean and aggressive. Like that’s what being a man is; that you’re taught as a boy,” Sandusky told Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KXPN, “And that’s what I was taught as a boy: you fight, you hold your own, you do your thing. If you’re beaten, you just shut your mouth, you don’t complain. So, we really need to figure out and think about that. That’s the message that we’re sending to young boys today.”
Sandusky, the adopted son of Jerry Sandusky, came forward about child abuse in his home during his father’s trial in 2012.
Jerry Sandusky is serving a prison term after being convicted on 45 counts of sexual child abuse.
Matthew Sandusky said the issue must be confronted, because it has become so common.
“There are more people affected by child sexual abuse than any other disease, illness that you can name,” according to Sandusky. “But yet, we can’t even talk about it. We’re afraid to mention, because we look at it, it’s an adult person doing these sexual acts on a child. At the end of the day, it’s an adult doing these sexual acts on a child. Why are we not talking about it?”
Sandusky said it is extremely difficult for victims to confront their past, but worth the pain.
“For me, it was about facing the fear and it was about, really, going into the fear, running into the fear and feeling my way through the pain, feeling my way through it and understanding that fear, it’s self-imposed,” Sandusky said. “The great point about that is that if it’s self-imposed that means we alone have the ability to destroy it. If we create it in our minds then we can destroy it.”
Matthew Sandusky and his wife, Kim, have established an organization called “Peaceful Hearts Foundation” to raise awareness and help victims of childhood sexual abuse.
Brent Weithorn, KXPN, contributed to this article.