Friday, July 06, 2012
Two recent stories raised my ire - once again - about the
culpability of those who enable sexual predators. By enabler, I am referring
primarily to the predator's spouse, partner or parent. I sit here and
wonder why citizens aren't held legally responsible for notifying authorities
if they become aware of an adult molesting a minor. If you watch someone being
murdered and do nothing, or you help a murderer not get caught, you are an
accessory to that crime. Molestation murders a child's soul. The child may
live, but their life will never be the same.
While everyone was riveted by the allegations against Jerry Sandusky
and a corrupt system that allowed him to continue hurting young boys, I was
focused on Dorothy Sandusky, the dutiful, religious wife who turned a deaf ear
to the victims who called for help, and a blind eye to the provocative scenes
she witnessed. Of course, at this point, I believe that Mrs. Sandusky had to be
in total denial about the crimes she never tried to stop. But what led her down
this path? When did she consciously or unconsciously decide to ignore the truth
in order to preserve the reality she wanted?
Partners of Predators aren't necessarily mentally unbalanced or amoral
people. Nor are they driven by uncontrollable impulses, like the Predators
themselves. They may be kind and loving and decent in every other respect - as Mrs.
Sandusky supposedly was. Is it loyalty, denial, weakness, fear that forces
their hand? Perhaps. But that doesn't let them off the hook. In fact, I
personally find the partners of predators even more accountable, because the
predators themselves donâ??t believe they are doing something wrong. Their
actions are criminal, but they truly believe otherwise. Meanwhile, the partner
is allowing crimes to be committed in order to hold on to a life they know, a
life they may not want to disrupt. Chuck Williams, a professor at Drexel
University, and an expert on dealing with child abuse, when speaking recently
about the spouses of child abusers said, "they often sense that something
is wrong but rationalize that the cost of taking action might be greater than
turning a blind eye." And it doesnâ??t stop there.
It was reported that when Dorothy Sandusky first heard about the
sexual abuse charges leveled against her husband, instead of expressing either
horror or sympathy for the victims, she said, "for all Jerry's done for
these kids all these years, how could a few of them turn their stories around
and make him seem so bad". And after Victim #4 movingly testified about
his sexual abuse, Dorothy took the stand and coldly alluded to what a manipulative
child he had been. Which brings me to the other story I referred to at the
beginning of this article. This story hasn't been in the headlines, and like
thousands of others, will never get the public's attention. But it's just as
The following is a post I received from a reader of an article I
wrote entitled "Sibling Abuse - Children Abusing Other Children":
"I was abused by my brother who was 6 years my senior. I
remember when I was only 5 or 6 years old, I went to my mom and told her that
my brother (who was 12) was making me touch him down there. She called me a
liar and told me to go away. It didn't stop with sexual abuse. He abused me
verbally, physically and emotionally. My mom saw it; she had to. But she always
ignored what he did wrong. The abuse continued for years, way past the point
when he should have known better. And to this day, she makes excuses for him.
This has affected my whole life. I have been in a series of abusive
relationships as an adult and have just recently realized why. Yet I am the one
who has been pushed aside and ignored. Since starting therapy I have tried
to talk to my mother about this. Her response was that if it was so bad when I
was little, why didn't I call social services? She is still blaming me!
My therapist says that I shouldn't waste any more energy on my mother.
She will never acknowledge her part in my abuse let alone apologize for
The time has come for those who do nothing to be held accountable.
Roni Weisberg-Ross LMFT