To the Editor:
It is humanly impossible for one person to bear the rage, betrayal, and shame experienced after sexual abuse. Victims must have a community willing to bear witness to their pain and openly share the outrage and horror with them. Without that support, the victim has nowhere to turn the rage but on him or herself, in a relentless barrage of self-destruction.
When Penn State chose to cover up for Jerry Sandusky, it became just as guilty of abuse and evil as the predator himself. As well we know, most institutions exhibit that same cowardice.
The Board of Trustees of Penn State has an opportunity to help the victims heal. Responding with swift, meaningful restitution, involving financial support for treatment, tuition reimbursements, legal action against those who chose to ignore the abuse, and a commitment to changing the culture of the institution, they can show the courage to be part of the healing process, and part of a bigger solution to the pandemic of sexual abuse.
Harvard Medical School