Now that Jerry Sandusky has been convicted, count former ESPN personality Dana Jacobson among those empowered to speak out about a personal experience with child sex abuse. Jacobson, who hasn't returned to TV since leaving ESPN at the end of April, relates a story on her personal blog this morning about being violated by a male babysitter when she was young:
Like the young men who bravely took the stand in the Sandusky trial, I was molested as a child. That's still not easy for me to say, let alone write and share publicly, but if we've learned anything from the Sandusky scandal it's that the time for silence is over. As I heard one Sandusky victim put it, it's time to "find my voice."
It was something I couldn't do when I was molested. I didn't speak out, no matter how many chances I may have had. I just couldn't. Travis Weaver, one of the young men who testified in front of the grand jury in the Sandusky case but not at trial did an interview which aired on Rock Center last week. He said he was scared to say anything because he thought no one would believe him. I know that feeling.
That's what these monsters count on, our silence. They have the power and they know it.
Jacobson goes into detail about "the shame, fear, and overwhelming confusion" she experienced, and about how she eventually told her family when she was in her early 20s. She stresses the point that Sandusky's conviction is only the beginning of the recovery process for his victims:
When I did tell my parents and my brother, I remember the reaction as if it were yesterday. All of them told me how sorry they were that they didn't see any signs, that they didn't stop the abuse, that they weren't there for me. Just knowing they wanted to protect me, as I had expected them to do, helped ease the pain I was still feeling from childhood. I only wish I could ease the feeling of guilt I fear they will always have.
The truth is, no one suspected the abuse in my case.
Jacobson says she has also discussed her story with others close to her, but that this is her first public acknowledgement of it. "I've learned that each time I tell my story, I let go of some of the shame and guilt I've carried with me for years," she writes. "Those feelings so deeply buried at times they seem never ending."
You can read the rest of Jacobson's personal story here.