Sandusky trial ends... justice is served but the victims still suffer
Friday night, about ten pm for you on the East Coast, the jury came back with a verdict in the trial of The People versus Jerry Sandusky [I'm not sure if Pennsylvania lists their cases as The People of <insert county here>, so bear with me.] You can see a breakdown of the charges and verdicts, here. CNN did an excellent job of covering the story.
I followed that trial so closely, that I dreamed about it! I know I'm not the only person so involved in it; I'd venture to say the world was riveted at times. Such is the nature of sexual assault cases involving children-- look at the fall out from the repeated, institutionalised rape and abuse of children by the Roman Catholic clergy-- we want to protect children from such evils, and when they're abused anyway, we all feel like we're watching a train crash... we just can't look away, no matter how revolted, angered and sick we feel.
This might have been different than the “usual” sensational trials these days. But only in that an entire University is being called to account for pretending they didn't know about the rapes. It seems to me that we, as a People, are getting better about punishing people for helping institutionalise abuses and rapes. I'm hoping this is a new leaf that will blossom into the death of rape culture.
I'm not holding my breath, though.
I now I use the phrase “institutionalised abuse” rather often. I do this, because there is often nothing less than the entire establishment covering the abuse and rape. Let me explain...
Institutionalise means, “Establish (something, typically a practice or activity) as a convention or norm in an organization or culture”.
Something typical; a practice or activity. A convention. Conventions are norms, the “way it is”; the way we've always done it. Same with culture! Culture is, at it's very most basic the “way we've always done it, all together as a group of people.”
Rapes, abuses, child abuse, these crimes are institutionalise when the organisation has more vested in keeping it silent than in removing the criminal amongst them. Penn State Uni did exactly that. The people who knew spoke up, only to the guy above them. It was easier to pass off the responsibility, easier to wash their hands-- they'd done their job, right?
Any time we pretend not to see we're helping institutionalise the wrong we're ignoring. We're making it normal. That's what caused me such pain, and what added to the pain and suffering the victims and their families have gone through.
We, as a society have normalised rape and sexual abuse.
Before you say, “Oh no, we still punish such things!” Tell me the percentage of women who are raped who come forward and report it to the police. To the police, not their friends.
RAINN reports that 54% of rapes aren't reported. Fifty-Four Percent! Of those reported, only 12% result in an arrest. Only three percent will ever do prison time.
Tell me again we punish these things?
Over and over the reported testimony repeated the now-men saying they didn't say anything. Why? “Who would believe a kid?” “He's Jerry Sandusky!” They were saying, “I'm a no one. NO One! I'm not important, no one would have believed me. He is important, so they'd always believe him”
Yeah, we institutionalise rape. We make it normal.
How many women have been told it was their fault? How many kids felt they caused it? How many of us felt we “asked for it” some how?
We have normalised rape. One in every six women will be a victim of rape, or attempted rape in her lifetime. Fifteen percent of all children will be raped before they're 18. Roughly three in 100 men go through that. [RAINN quotes the stats at 1 in 33]. The vast majority of times the victim of rape is a woman. If you know six women, there's a good chance one of them was raped, or will be, in her life.
We have normalised rape. People tell rape jokes. There's an entire genre of “she was asking for it” jokes and anecdotes. How many times have you heard “you can't rape the willing?” Especially if the victim is a male? Some gents have the uncanny ability to maintain an erection when they're scared of their minds. Doesn't matter, though, anything less than an enthusiastic “Yes!” is No.
We normalise it. We accept it. We blink a little, say “Oh, I'm so sorry” and then go on our way.
At least, if it's adults. We're doing better when the person being raped is a kid. It just takes us awhile. Some times it takes years.
The men who were raped by Sandusky were vindicated. They were believed. They were given justice. They braved the media and spoke out against the man who hurt them, used them, abused them. Even his own adopted son was ready to testify. His own kid!
I hope Sandusky rots in prison for the rest of his life. I hope every single young man he hurt gets therapy and can move on with his life. I hope his son can, too.
I do know, though, that no one wins in cases like this. Everyone loses. We lose our innocence, our belief in the goodness of humanity, our trust in institutions. We lose ourselves, some times. I just hope we can all find ourselves when it's over.
All I can say, is I'm glad the jury did their job. I wouldn't have wished to be in their shoes for anything. "Thank you, jury. Thank you for believing those men, for knowing that rape is bad, and "But Football!" is no reason to allow it to continue."