I am a sports fan. Actually, fan may be putting it lightly. When it is baseball or NCAA football season, I spend a good chunk of time sitting in front of a television or computer screen hyperventilating. My heart beat quickens, my stress level rises, I feel a sense of dread mixed with euphoria that I cannot easily explain. Why am I telling you this? Well, I want you to know how much sports mean to me. I want you to know where I come from when I write this…
I could not be happier that Joe Paterno lost his job at Penn State.
When news first broke that he had been let go, I felt a sense of sadness for the man. His coaching career has been remarkable. The students at his school clearly love him. It is an absolute shame that this is how things are ending.
That being said, a man that used to work under him is currently being prosecuted for 40 counts of molestation and rape against male children. Let that sink in for a second. I’ve heard that number many times today, and typing it just now, I still feel ill. It’s true that Paterno himself did not do anything to physically hurt any of these boys, but the question remains: Why did he not react in a more vehement manner? After he was informed of the situation, how could he continue to allow such a disgusting abuser to walk in and out of his locker room?
I would like to introduce you all to my friend Matt. I went to high school with him. Matt is one amazing guy. When he was young, he was molested by a close family friend. For years he was silent, however, recently he has been speaking out. He is the founder of a nonprofit organization called Commit 65 that is raising awareness for victims of child molestation. Matt’s motto is “Speak your silence!” It is a great motto, to be sure, but I would like to add to it. In many instances, there are those of us who should take on the motto “Speak THEIR silence“. Giving those that have been made victims by such a terrible crime a voice is an amazing gift. If Paterno had made himself heard, if he had spoken the silence of the boys being abused right under his nose, maybe a serial molester would have been stopped. Maybe the numbers would be smaller than the disturbing 40 counts.
Now I would like to introduce you to somebody that I love more than I can say. I would like you to meet my mother, Lois. She is a beautiful, strong woman. I aspire to be to my children what she has been to me. When I was younger, I learned that my mom was a victim of childhood molestation. She was abused by a family member and has lived with the pain of what she went through with a dignity that I am awed by. My mother should not have to live with the scars that were given to her as a child, no person should have to, but they do. Every day. So many people are quietly going about their lives feeling alone when they don’t have to.
Matt and my mom were given a voice. They were given the power to speak. Their silence is no more, and I am so proud to know both of them. There is no shame in being the victim of a crime. No person should feel like what was forced on them by an abuser was their fault or something to hide. If you’ve been the victim of molestation, I encourage you to find someone you trust and speak your silence! If you know of someone that is abusing children, speak the silence of the innocent. Stand up, make it known, and make sure it ends.
By speaking up and founding Commit 65, I am positive that Matt is going to change the world. If you can help him with his crusade, I urge you to do so.