This is going to be a short diary, because I'm on my way out the door. I arrived safely in Bellefonte last night, and will be attending day one of the trial of Jerry Sandusky today, along with fellow Kossack Roxine.
As a quick recap for those who may have missed this over the weekend- Roxine and I are putting together a book for the victims at the center of this case who are set to testify this week. There are 8 of them in total, ranging in age from 18-32. Through the prosecution team, we will be able to get a copy of the book to each victim directly. Our goal is to have it in their hands before they testify if possible, which is why we are in a bit of a time crunch here.
For more backgruond, read the following diaries:
Tree Climbers: Send a Message to the Penn State Victims (Action Diary)
PLEASE HELP: We Are the 1 in 5-Stand With the Penn State Victims
TREE Climbers: In Judges Chambers with Jerry Sandusky
TREE Climbers: We Stand in Solidarity with the Penn State Victims (ACTION DIARY)
So here is how this works-If you want to have your message seen by the victims before they testify, you need to submit it by 5PM EST today. You can leave it in the comments, or send it to email@example.com. If that address gives you any trouble, use Roxine@Treeclimbersinc.org Please sign with your real name or initials if possible. If you don't feel comfortable doing that publicly, you can message me privately. Or don't! Whatever you feel comfortable with. I have chosen, along with a few others, to state my name publicly as a show of solidarity with the victims who will be forced to reveal their names in open court.
We will be putting those messages together into a binder which will then be passed on to them, hopefully before they take the stand. However, we have decided to put together something more formal as well. A book that will be professionally bound and personalized for each of the young men. If you would like to write something to include in this volume, we are extending the deadline to June 29th.
The messages we have gotten so far have been amazing! I have done a bit of work on the book, and wanted to give you all a sneak peek at what it looks like so far:
For Someone Awakening to the Trauma of His or Her Past
For everything under the sun there is a time
This is the season of your awkward harvesting,
When pain takes you where you would rather not go,
Through the white curtain of yesterdays to a place
You had forgotten you knew from the inside out;
And a time when that bitter tree was planted.
That has grown always invisible beside you
And whose branches your awakened hands
Now long to disentangle from your heart.
You are coming to see how your looking often darkened
When you should have felt safe enough to fall toward love,
How deep down your eyes were always owned by something.
That faced them through a dark fester of thorns
Converting whoever came into a further figure of the wrong;
You could only see what touched you as already torn.
Now the act of seeing begins your work of mourning.
And your memory is ready to show you everything,
Having waited all these years for you to return and know.
Only you know where the casket of pain is interred.
You will have to scrape through all the layers of covering.
And according to your readiness, everything will open.
May you be blessed with a wise and compassionate guide
Who can accompany you through the fear and grief
Until your heart has wept its way to your true self.
As your tears fall over that wounded place,
May they wash away your hurt and free your heart.
May your forgiveness still the hunger of the wound.
So that for the first time you can walk away from that place,
Reunited with your banished heart, now healed and freed,
And feel the clear, free air bless your new face.
I was sexually assaulted when I was 12 years old by a group of boys. It was a small town and I was horribly ostracized and bullied. Somehow...I knew that if they really, really had been through what I had been through, if they truly understood my story they would not say bad things about me. I believed that if they really knew, they would understand.
This thought helped me immensely when I faced people who judged or blamed me. And there were many in our small town. My whole fifth grade class was invited to a party, but the girl told me that I could not come to the party, because her mom told her she had "heard about me" and that her mom didn't want "girls like me at the party". I cried. Felt different. Did my stint trying to make the pain go away. I laughed with them when they made fun of me. I tried drugs, smoking and cussing. I acted tough even though I didn't feel it inside. I didn't set boundaries because I was afraid of the fight. The feeling of losing the struggle was such a big trigger for me, that I would have rather given in. I still have trouble with that feeling today.
I got therapy. I recommend this. I drifted. Picked the wrong husband twice. But I found my purpose. My purpose became helping other survivors. Today I am a very successful counselor. I work with all kinds of folks, not just survivors today, but that was my main expertise in the beginning. Find a purpose. You have one. You must find a way to take this pain and make it into a positive strength. We together must validate the pain of this crime. The secrets, the triggers, the truths. You possess them. Don't fight them, find them and share them. The world needs to know the truth about this crime even as it makes others uncomfortable. Know and be compassionate for their discomfort. I always knew that if I had a choice, I would shut my eyes to the pain of this crime. It is not nobility but my lack of choice that meant that I would accept and be humbled by the pain of this crime. Not that I was better than anyone else. Today I understand why others who haven't been there choose to shut it out. Who wouldn't? If they could.
Those of us, who have been there are there for you today. I thought I was gay. I thought I might become a perp. I thought I would hate men. I struggled with all these types of thoughts. In the end I help men today...and I don't hate them. In the end...I didn't become a perp...men especially worry about this. As long as you accept the pain, and don't suppress it, you will be fine. It's the suppression that creates perps. You don't have to suppress, you have us. It didn't make me gay. I just wasn't born that way. And today, I help many gay kids find support. I could relate a little to that pain because of my fears. I was afraid it would make me sterile. I was afraid I would go to hell. Today I know none of those thoughts turned out to be true. Some do, some don't but most important is not what happened to you but how you choose to deal with it. Choose love. Choose to love yourself the best you can. Eventually we get there. Eventually we find the path of truth and know who we really are in the world. Bad things happen to good people every day. Innocent people. Choose a path that makes a better life for you.
Sending thoughts and prayers your way. We stand together as one voice against this crime.
Katie Jensen Ms LMHP
You may ask yourself sometimes-"why did this happen to me?" It can be hard to understand why you were singled out. You probably wonder at times if there was something you did to deserve this.
The truth is, you didn't deserve any of this. But it may benefit you to know that you have helped many people around the world by coming forward, in ways you don't even realize.
I am also a survivor of sexual abuse. I was 10 years old when it happened, and I never told anyone for over 17 years. I finally did this past January-after reading about what happened to you. Your case affected me profoundly. I remember watching the coverage of it in the media and thinking about how awful it must have been to go through that. To have to sit there and watch as the most personal and painful details of your abuse was made public, and became part of public debate and discussion. So much of the coverage was around Joe Paterno and the Penn State football program-and in the midst of that, nobody seemed to care about the impact this was having on you.
So I spoke out. I wrote a post on a very popular website, and I told the world-it happened to me too. It happened to me, and it is awful, and it can destroy your life. And as adults, we have to be more responsible when it comes to protecting our children. We cannot allow this to happen again.
It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, because I was so scared of facing it, and even saying those words out loud. But I thought about the courage it took for all of you to come forward and tell the truth. I thought about the fact that one of you was even bullied out of school for speaking out. And I knew that if you could do it, so could I. So I did.
Since I spoke out, my life has changed. I have joined forces with another sexual abuse survivor named Roxine Behrens. Like me, she found the courage to speak out after reading about your case. Together we have created a nonprofit organization to help other survivors of sexual abuse. We hope that you all are the first among many survivors who we will help through our organization.
And none of this would have ever happened if it weren't for you.
By coming forward, you ensured that this man would not be able to hurt any more children. And you empowered other survivors across the world to find their own voices, and use them to protect other children too. Like a pebble thrown into a lake, your disclosure will have ripple effects for miles and miles. You have saved countless children from suffering your same fate.
Be proud. It is OK to be proud. You survived one of the hardest things a person can live through, and come through the other side. You are an inspiration.
Hold your head high and be strong.
With love and solidarity, always
I will be gone most of the day, and will not be able to respond to comments. I will be posting a diary tonight detailing what transpires in the courtroom over the next 8 hours or so. With opening statements and the beginning of the first victims testimony, it is likely to be a very emotional day.
How you can help
1. Recommend, republish, and share this diary
I know, I know, it's a bit obnoxious to ask to be recommended, but we really want this to stay visible so that everyone who wants to participate has a chance to do so. Even if you are unable to participate, please recommend and share so that others who would like to submit a message see this on time.
2. Send a message
Leave it in the comments section, or email it to us privately at firstname.lastname@example.org. All identifying information will be kept confidential. Please see the first diary for ideas on how to make your message more personalized.
One important thing to say to them-"I believe you". The defense team is going to try to impeach their testimony and will be accusing them of making false allegations. As a survivor of sexual abuse myself, I can honestly say that is one of the most hurtful things to be accused of
We estimate this will cost around $300. If you can afford to donate anything, please do so-every little bit counts!
Please note that if you make a donation of $25 or more you will get one of these bracelets:
We are giving these bracelets to the victims and their families as well-so it can be one more way that you can show your solidarity and support.
My heartfelt thanks to kishik, 2thanks, Smoh, and all of the others who have helped keep this going in my absence, as well as everyone who has read, shared, and contributed. This community never ceases to amaze me.