All forms of media have reported on the developing news of Assistant Football Coach Jerry Sandusky and the child sexual abuse which took place at Pennsylvania State University.
Just as those broadcasts were being replaced with Black Friday sales stats, child sex abuse accusations against Associate Head Basketball Coach Bernie Fine of Syracuse University in New York emerged. Reports of Fine’s exploitation of kids began well over 30 years ago, according to the media.
My gut tells me that these investigations may only be the tip of the iceberg.
It wouldn’t surprise me if allegations of sexual improprieties between other coaches and children became as prevalent as those involving priests in the Roman Catholic Church.
I’m not impugning every coach out there. However, coaches and priests are looked up to and idolized by adults, as well as children.
Both roles command respect and require proximity, along with a certain amount of trust and subjugation of power from others. Surely, I’m not the only one to notice these similarities.
Is this disturbing news?
Are these stomach-turning revelations?
Without a doubt.
Is this unsettling?
Hopefully, in addition to making you enraged.
While listening to breaking news about Sandusky and his alleged victims I, too, became incensed. I’m sure it’s not for the reasons you think, so let me explain…
The Court of Public Opinion
I was listening to my car radio, while running errands. The host interviewed a national news correspondent, who said:
‘These boys’ lives are ruined. How are they going to live normal lives? Their lives are ruined. How can they be expected to pick-up the pieces and go on with their lives? How?’
That’s quite a fatalistic point of view, don’t you think?
Let’s view this from the reporter’s perspective, since I’m sure quite a few of you might agree with him…
A child was used to bring sexual pleasure to an adult. Therefore, the outcome of the child’s life is predetermined by these events. Their life is ruined and the ending is both unalterable and inevitable.
That’s when I became a little crazed and I thought to myself, quite sarcastically:
‘This child has already been exploited by an adult they’ve trusted.
Now, other adults can continue the exploitation by writing them off.
That’s it. Their lives are over. It’s a fait accompli, a done deal.
They’re doomed. Their lives are o-ver.’
I wanted to scream out of frustration.
I believe as a society, condemning these kids to a life of ruin, telling them their lives are over and that they’ll never be able to live a normal life after being abused is to victimize them, again.
A Well-earned Perspective
Some of you must feel I’m insensitive and uncaring, after all that these kids have been through.
I’m here to say, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Raped doesn’t have to mean ruined. Victimized doesn’t have to mean you remain a victim for the rest of your Life.
Like everything else in Life, I believe it comes down to choices and consequences.
In the end it’s your Life, so ultimately, it’s your choice as to how you’ll react and respond to what happens to you.
That may sound harsh to some, but I’m speaking with authority.
I’ve earned the right to take this stand.
I know well of what I speak, because I experienced that same abuse from the ages of three to nearly seventeen.
The residual impact of this experience included a spectrum of eating disorders and combating feelings of suicide, as a form of refuge and relief from my loss of self.
Re-claiming My Personal Power
I’ve felt the way you think these kids may feel; the way many of you believe these kids will feel, or should feel, for the rest of their lives.
I hit rock bottom.
And when I did, I found that the way you get out of the prison someone else imposed upon you is to choose to live your life on your own terms.
I rejected their unspoken power over me.
I was damned if I was going to give in and allow them to take my future away from me.
As a child, I had no choice.
The sexual abuse was something I was subjected to, it wasn’t anything I sought out or was responsible for.
As an adult, I had choices.
I was faced with the choice to become a victim or to be a victor. I made the choice to reclaim my personal power.
The children who were subjected to these child sexual abuse scandals can make that same choice, too.
My Suggestions for those Abused
Here’s what I’d like to share with anyone who’s been abused:
You are not alone.
There are many victors out there, waiting to support you as you come forward.
You can choose to heal.
So why not choose to heal, now.
Speaking about what happened to you can empower you.
Sharing your story can free you, no matter what your story is.
Own your experience so you can own the life you choose. That’s the only way to step outside of the prison that someone else has put you in.
I’m encouraging you to identify and talk about the abuse, openly.
Remember the shame is theirs; the shame belongs to the abuser.
The shame doesn’t belong to you.
So, don’t own their shame.
Don’t carry it around inside of you.
Don’t allow them to control one minute more of your Life than they already have.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not going to tell you it was quick and easy to come to terms with what was done to me.
Far from it…like fighting many of life’s considerable challenges, I attacked this demon from many fronts.
Along the way I’ve amassed quite a tool kit of healthy, adult coping skills:
- I have a writing journal and a Gratitude Journal.
- I have an extensive library of spiritual and self-help books and CD’s.
- I’ve been in and out of therapy and support groups, when needed.
- I’ve learned how to meditate, use affirmations and visualization.
- I’ve learned EFT. The Emotional Freedom Technique is a method of stress relief using the meridians or energy points of the body.
- I update my Active Vision Board, regularly.
- I get regular physical activity, especially outdoors. This helps reduce stress, increase endorphin and serotonin levels and enhance sleep.
- I have an incredible ‘family of friends’ that I can call on for laughter, support, a strong shoulder or an open ear when I need them.
The amazing thing is this; over time with a lot of hard work, a lot of help, and after quite a few tears, I’ve created a truly rich, bountiful and joyful life.
- I have love, abundance, a grateful heart, a strong body and a peaceful mind.
- I’ve learned to forgive those who took pleasure at my expense.
- I’ve found the love of my life.
- I’ve learned to accept my body and I appreciate all that it offers me. I’ve even learned to box, meditate, belly dance, weight lift and practice yoga.
But more importantly, I’ve developed the personal power to face even formidable challenges, or ‘Life Lessons’ (as I call them) and make tough choices without losing my joy.
I’ve learned to live a fiercely positive life.
And so can you.
Whatever your personal heartaches; whether abuse, disease, disorder, loss or disappointment; whatever your trials, worries, challenges, fears, or dreams; you can learn to tap into your own personal power to live a fiercely positive life full of gratitude, abundance, joy and confidence.
I believe that all my experiences have all led me to this.
My Life Lessons forced me to discover some of the great secrets of Life in order to survive, timeless secrets that other survivors and victors have also learned.
I believe I’m obliged to share those with others. Even more than that, I feel honored to share these with you.
If I can inspire one person, especially a child struggling to be hopeful of a brighter, happier, more peaceful future to come forward and reach out for help, then I know the atrocities and experiences I’ve faced were worth it.
If I know one thing for sure it is this…
If I can do it, you can do it, too.
You can make it to the other side.
Even more than that, I’m here to proudly share that you can make it to the other side, joyfully.
This I know for sure, because I live each day happily.
Overcoming adversities to find and live your happiness is what my blog The Power To Live and my manifesto are all about.
Your past does not define your future, unless you allow it to.
It turns out George Herbert, the English clergyman & metaphysical poet, was correct when he said ‘Living well is the best Revenge.’