Just posted online, Patrick Fleming, a psychotherapist and co-author of Shattered Soul: Five Pathways to Healing the Spirit after Abuse and Trauma (WordStream Publishing, 2011)and Broken Trust: Stories of Pain, Hope, and Healing from Clerical Abuse Survivors and Abusers, writes on why it imperative for abusers like Jerry Sandusky to tell their story:
The trial of Jerry Sandusky is over, and he has been found guilty. The victims have told their haunting, painful, dramatic and heart-rending stories of abuse at Sandusky’s hands. One of Sandusky’s adopted sons is also claiming that he sexually abused him. We will probably hear more and more of the victims’ stories in the coming weeks.
As painful as the stories are to hear, it is crucial for the victims’ healing that they are finally able to tell their stories. There is, however, a vital part of the story that is missing, a part that we will probably never know: Jerry Sandusky’s real life story, the hidden story that explains what happened to this man who ended up doing these horrible and criminal things to his victims.
It is good that we are hearing the stories of the victims as they voice the pain, trauma, victimization, betrayal of trust and exploitation of vulnerability that they experienced. As a psychotherapist who has counseled hundreds of survivors of childhood and adolescent sexual abuse, I know these stories well. I know, too, what courage it took these young men to speak out about what they endured. The road of healing ahead of them may be long and difficult, yet telling their story is one of the vital and most freeing parts of that process.
I have also counseled many dozens of perpetrators of abuse and listened to their stories and challenged them to take responsibility for what they did to their young victims. I have also helped them to reconstruct the path that eventually led them to abuse. From this experience I know how powerfully healing and liberating it is for them to own and tell their story as well.