In 2007, neuroscientist Lisa Genova self-published her first novel, “Still Alice.” It tells the story of a Harvard psychology professor and her experience with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The book became a best-seller and is now a major motion picture. Join Diane and her guests for a discussion of “Still Alice.”
Today is day three in the trial of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky. He’s accused of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15 year period starting in 1994. When the charges were first made public at the end of last year, a graduate of a prestigious New York city private school decided to revisit decades old alleged abuse incidents at his school. Last Sunday the New York Times published his piece. The number of responses to the article suggests that child sex abuse is much bigger problem than most acknowledge: Join us to discuss how to protecting children and teenagers from sexual abuse and how to help victims recover.
- Dr Richard Gartner a psychologist and psychoanalyst practicing in New York City, author of " Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life After Boyhood Sexual Abuse"
- Amos Kamil screenwriter, playwright, and brand strategist 1982 graduate, Horace Mann School
- Frank Cervone executive director, Support Center for Child Advocates.
- Dr. Liza Gold clinical professor of psychiatry, Georgetown University Medical Center vice president, American Academy of Psychiatry & The Law
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. The highly publicized trial of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky on charges of child sex abuse is escalating attention to the problem. Last Sunday, The New York Times published a piece on alleged incidents at a prestigious private school in New York City. Joining me to talk about child sex abuse, Frank Cervone of the Support Center for Child Advocates, Dr. Liza Gold, clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical Center. Joining us from a studio at NPR in New York, Dr. Richard Gartner.
MS. DIANE REHMHe's a practicing psychologist and psychoanalyst. And Amos Kamil, he's a screenwriter and playwright and a 1982 graduate of Horace Mann School -- that's a private school in New York. We do welcome your questions and comments. Join us on 800-433-8850. Send us your email to email@example.com. Join us on Facebook or Twitter. Some of the material in this program may be tough going for young people. So if there are young people listening, I would urge you to be thoughtful, and good morning to all of you.
DR. LIZA GOLDGood morning, Diane.
MR. FRANK CERVONEGood morning.
MR. AMOS KAMILGood morning.
REHMAnd, Amos Kamil, I'd like to start with you. You did graduate from Horace Mann, and you wrote about Horace Mann School in The New York Times. Tell me what you heard and why you decided to go forward with this piece.
KAMILSure. I was a student at Horace Mann from '79 to '82, and there were always rumors around certain teachers, and they were pretty prevalent. And a lot of the students talked about it in the cafeteria, and we always assumed that the teachers talked about it, too. About 10 years after I graduated, a few of us went on a camping trip. And during that trip, one of our friends came out and said, do you remember this particular teacher, Mark Wright? He raped me when I was -- when we were back in school.
KAMILAnd we all went around the camp fire telling different stories that which -- that one being the most severe but of different boundary-blurring incidents. And about 20 years went by, and the Sandusky case hit the news. And I started thinking about my friend. I said, how are you doing? And he said, I'm not doing very well. I wish somebody would write about it. And it took the form of the piece that ultimately was in The Times.
REHMI gather that what you've written came from your heart and was not intended to be an indictment of that school, or was it?
KAMILIt certainly wasn't. It was -- first of all, I want to say I'm a -- I was not a victim. I loved my three years at Horace Mann very much. It's a great institution. Yet at the same time, it -- all of these terrible things were happening behind closed doors. And I want to stress, this is not an issue only of Horace Mann. It's a rampant issue around the country as far as I understand. And, in a sense, one of the only reasons that it's a story is because it's Horace Mann.
KAMILAnd I think that that's not fair not only to Horace Mann, but it's a -- it hopefully will enable other schools around the country to take a look at this massive issue. If there's anything good that will come out of this, hopefully, Horace Mann will play a part in taking a leadership role on how do we look at this issue, how do we educate about it, how do we make our students and our kids feel safe and not paranoid? At the same time, that balance is a tough one.
REHMAnd what kinds of responses have you gotten to the piece?
KAMILOverwhelmingly positive. I've had, sadly, many more victims come forward representing six new teachers. It's been a very emotional rollercoaster since the story was published online last Wednesday, thousands of responses from around the world. Two Facebook groups, you know, have arisen just from Horace Mann. One sort of for the general Horace Mann population. There's over 2,000 people on that really discussing this issue.
KAMILWhere do we go from here, what -- and processing this whole issue. And another one more specifically for survivors, which has over 400 people on it. That doesn't mean they're all survivors but also people who watch, people who want to do something, people who want to take this opportunity to help heal not only the school but what appears to be the nation.
REHMAmos Kamil, he's a screenwriter, playwright, brand strategist and a 1982 graduate of the Horace Mann School. Turning to you, Dr. Richard Gartner, you wrote a piece for The Times last week, and you mentioned that in your experience, the Penn State case has prompted a great many men to come forward. Why do you think that is?
DR. RICHARD GARTNERWell, I think it's historically been very difficult for male victims to acknowledge having been victimized, and they are more likely to spend many years in silence. In the piece I mentioned, a man who was in his 70s and first came -- actually didn't come forward. It sort of burst out of him, and that has terrible implications. But I think they're coming forward because they have the example of people coming forward.
CERVONEEach time there's a story, a celebrity comes forward or something like Penn State or what happened in Syracuse -- there are many, many others in the last few years and certainly the Church -- it empowers people, who have felt they could not say those words to another soul, to find some soul to say it to. And then sometimes that means they come forward and get some help.
REHMI have a chart here published by stopitnow.org which says that adult retrospective studies show that one in four women and one in six men were sexually abused before the age of 18. That's from the Centers for Control and Prevention published in 2006. Dr. Gartner, would you think that those statistics may have changed somewhat?
GARTNERI don't think the statistics have changed. I think what has changed is that people are talking about it. I mean, if one in four women, one in six men have had unwanted sexual -- direct sexual contact by the age of 18, which is what those figures represent, first of all, that doesn't mean that they were all equally traumatized by it, but many were. I think the difference is that people are talking about it.
GARTNERI think when the Church scandal first erupted and I was asked what I thought about it, my first thought was, why hasn't -- you know, I'm surprised it hadn't come forward. It hadn't emerged earlier than that. And so each time a school or a coach or something like that happens to -- someone, you know, comes forward with an accusation, it helps people who have been silent to come forward. But I don't think that any -- it's happening anymore than it ever happened.
REHMDr. Richard Gartner, he's psychologist, psychoanalyst practicing in New York and author of the book titled "Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life After Boyhood Sexual Abuse." And turning to you now, Frank Cervone, what do we really know about the prevalence of child sexual abuse? Do these figures from the CDC ring true with you?
CERVONEWe know for certain that there is large-scale underreporting. You know this in a sense, in a colloquial sense, almost every case comes forward after months or years of nondisclosure. It's very rare that an event happens last night and somebody calls the police this morning, right? This is how adult sexual assault sometimes occurs, when a victim is found, when a victim comes forward, reports that she's been raped.
CERVONEKids aren't picking up the phone and calling 911. They're keeping it inside. And so we get involved with cases -- intrafamilial cases, of course, are -- we should know are much more prevalent, more common than the coach, the teacher, the...
REHMBecause it's somebody you know.
CERVONEIt's somebody you know. It's somebody who has more access. It's -- there's a person trading on trust, on access. The event's happening upstairs during a family gathering downstairs. The event's happening on a vacation, right? But in the cases -- we work with child victims whose perpetrators are being prosecuted criminally.
CERVONEAnd their family members are not supporting the child through that prosecution. So there's this is on-going family dysfunction. And when you tell the story, when you look at the narrative, you see that the child has been holding this story secret for months or years. That's a non-report. That's underreporting.
REHMAnd how much less likely are boys to report than girls?
CERVONEWell, the statistics are fairly alarming. There are -- the culture -- the cultural pressures weighing upon we, men, are tremendous that -- to be embarrassed, to, you know, that there's something wrong with us.
REHMFrank Cervone, he is executive director of the Support Center for Child Advocates. We'll take a short break here. When we come back, we'll talk also about girls. Stay with us.
REHMAnd welcome back. Of course, many of you have been paying attention to the trial of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky on charges of child sexual abuse. And what has happened as a result is that more people are talking about it, more people are coming forward, more people are acknowledging that either it happened to them or to someone we know. Frank Cervone is here. He is with the Support Center for Child Advocates. Also Amos Kamil, he is a 1982 graduate of the Horace Mann School.
REHMHe and Dr. Richard Gartner, a psychologist and psychoanalyst practicing in New York, are on the line with us from the NPR studio there. Also here in the studio is Dr. Liza Gold. She is clinical professor of psychiatry at the Georgetown University Medical Center. Dr. Gartner -- forgive me. Dr. Gold, the Sandusky charges are far more about boys. To what extent do you think sexual abuse of girls is also underreported?
GOLDWell, I think sexual abuse of children in general is underreported for a variety to reasons. You know, people say, well, children don't come forward, and it's true that many children don't come forward. But I've had many patients who've told me that they actually did come forward as children and were met with disbelief or were shamed or were told they were making it up or lying. And, at that point, they will not -- excuse me -- they will not continue to try to press the issue. They internalize. They keep it to themselves. So, you know, there's a lot of denial.
GOLDYou know, if we saw a child in the middle of the street and cars were zooming back and forth, pretty much everybody would stop and do something to help the child. But the idea that someone comes to us and says someone we know -- and, as Mr. Cervone said, it's much more common to be intrafamilial. So if a child goes up to the mother, you know, a girl or a boy, and says, you know, dad is doing this to me or older brother is doing this to me, you can imagine the kind of feelings that a mom would feel going both ways in terms of saying, you know, it can't be true, what are you talking about, et cetera.
GOLDAnd so blaming the victim for misbehavior is often a common response, as is if it's, you know, a stranger or a coach or somebody with power, institution, the priest, the coach, the family benefactor. For example, one of the ways strangers get access is by being a benefactor to the family, and then the family doesn't have a problem with creating access to the child. So denial is a very powerful thing all the way around it.
REHMAnd how do you think these children who wait because they're not believed as children -- how do you think they are affected when they finally do come forward and talk about their experiences as young children, Dr. Gold?
GOLDWell, it adds another layer of anger, often anger that they're not equipped to cope with as children certainly and have very -- a lot of difficulty often coping with as adults because there's anger about the betrayal, but also because it's colored the relationship with that person who may be a very important person in their life, a parent, you know, a guardian, a sibling, somebody. It adds to their feeling of loss. You know, this person could have done something about it, and why didn't they? It's often the knottiest, one the knottiest problems in therapy with adults, is the person who didn't save them.
REHMAnd, Amos Kamil, you talked about the fact that you spoke with one young man. He said he wasn't doing all that well. What did he mean? Did you probe that at all?
KAMILYeah, he's a very good friend of mine. And he basically was starting to relive a lot of the trauma that he had gone through and the silence that he had carried around with him so long. And it just brought him right back there. He was brave enough to talk to me and is included actually in the piece. And I wanted to say something about my own personal journey in writing this. It sort of tracks well with what I'm hearing from a lot of victims who want to seal in the silence because they don't want to tell on a coach or a neighbor.
KAMILAs I was writing this -- and I want to stress this: I'm not a survivor here. I'm just a guy who heard a lot of stories, so I don't want to put myself on that same level. But even in the fact of writing this, I was hearing these horror stories. Day after day, I would wake up with nightmares screaming at 3:30 in the morning. Literally, I was -- I'm not -- I wasn't trained to take in this kind of information.
KAMILEven -- having said that, I was writing about this, and then I was starting to feel guilty. Well, I'm going to ruin these people's reputation. I'm going to lose friends and respect. I'm -- what am I doing? I'm not an expert. No one's going to believe me. So, in some weird way, it tracked what a lot of the victims tell me. And to a certain extent, I still feel this way.
REHMDr. Gartner, in your own practice, what's the typical age for somebody to some forward and say, you know, I was abused, I was raped, I was fondled, and it's really thrown me off?
GARTNERWell, first of all, let me say in my practice, I see many more men than women, so just to keep that in mind.
GARTNERAt least for men, it's much more typical for a man to wait, at least until his late 20s, but much more likely his late 30s, 40s, 50s or even 60s before coming forward. And often these people -- I just want to follow up Amos' point -- these kids also feel responsible for what happens, that somehow they seduced this older person, and that makes them feel even guiltier.
GARTNERSometimes I ask them to notice, say, a 6-year-old child, if they were abused at the age of 6 on the street, and think, if that happened to that child, would you think that this kid was responsible for what happened if the same thing happened to you? And they go out and they look and they say, well, no, no. I wouldn't blame him, but I still blame myself. I know I could've stopped it. It's very difficult to address that issue. But with time, it eases.
REHMBut, Frank Cervone, does speaking up early, does coming forward and having somebody support you immediately, does that mitigate the damage?
CERVONENow, the healing begins. It's the start of the healing, and, obviously, the clinicians can talk better to that. What we see are -- everybody knows him, the kid who's acting out at school, the boy who gets in the fights a lot. Often, that's a reflection of something deeper that's going on inside. Perhaps it's depression. Perhaps it's anger. Our jails are filled with men who were victimized as kids. Then they engaged in some anti-social behavior.
CERVONEJust think, if they had gotten healing, how their lives might literally have been turned around. They might have been on a different path, the healthy path, a fruitful path, a path in which they then can become good parents, rather than incarcerated, rather than abusive. What we're seeing in every story in the Sandusky case, each one of these victims who has come forward -- certainly we've seen the testimony so far of two -- have been stories of anxiety, of turmoil, just this wound festering deep inside.
REHMSo, Dr. Gold, for you seeing victims, women primarily, how can you help them when they come to you at a later age as opposed to coming in with their parents at a very early age? What can you tell them?
GOLDWell, it's not so much necessarily what I tell them as what they tell me, and we, together, try to work through what is a very, very complicated set of life circumstances. And it may not end. It may have just begun with the childhood abuse. There is often dysfunction in the family, chaos, loss, inability to cope productively or adaptively with other life challenges that creates more problems for these individuals.
GOLDSo we often have to start somewhere. And often we don't even start with the abuse because you have to wade through the other stuff that's happened since then to get back to the abuse, to stabilize them enough in the present so that they can, you know, go back to that time because there's a lot of pain associated with that. People have to be strong enough in the present to deal with revisiting that kind of past pain.
REHMAnd if the statistics are anywhere near correct, it would seem as though there are an awful lot of people walking around with these kinds of memories, with this kind of dysfunction growing out of those memories, Frank Cervone.
CERVONECertainly we're seeing, across the literature, increased incidents of behavioral health issues: acting out behaviors, nightmares, bed-wetting, changes in appetite, obesity and overeating, childhood issues, adult issues. Not all of those are coming out of child sexual abuse. We can be certain that there are ideologies...
REHMA lot of other things going on. Sure.
CERVONE...a lot of problems in being human beings today. But the connections are, at the same time, undeniable, that there are thousands of victims kind of walking about the earth, waiting for help.
REHMBut, Dr. Gartner, would you see the method of treatment being different for men from that of women?
GARTNERTo a certain extent, there's a, obviously, huge overlap in the symptoms that are felt by men and by women. But there are three areas that are particularly problematic for men. One is the sense that you're not a man if you're a victim, that -- in our culture, people are socialized to believe that victimhood is the province of women, unfortunately. And so for a man to say he was victimized, even to himself, is to say, I'm not a man. And that's really very difficult. Second, there's all kinds of concerns about sexual identity and sexual orientation.
GARTNERParticularly if a boy is abused by a man -- that is, a boy who is headed towards being straight -- there are all kinds of questions that he asks himself. Was I chosen because I'm gay, even though I don't know it? Is there something about me that gives off this kind of a message? Just, basically, why was I chosen? And then for a boy growing up to be gay, he may not, in any way, be prepared to acknowledge that yet.
GARTNERHe may be hurried into that kind of gay identity before he's prepared to -- so he's not able to, very easily, to come up with a positive sense of himself as a gay man. And then the third one -- and, of course, this happens for women as well, but I think more for men -- is the fear of becoming an abuser himself because that's one of our myths.
GARTNERSometimes it's called the vampire myth, that if you've been abused, you're almost inevitably going to become an abusing adult, particularly if you're male. And the statistics do not support that, and yet it's very prevalent. And that means that many men go around thinking they're going to abuse children, even if they have no other thought about that, no fantasy about it, no desire for it, that somehow it's going to come upon them.
GARTNEROr they feel that if other people know that they were abused that they will think that they are victimizers. And so they will not be allowed to see, say, their children or their grandchildren or something like that.
REHMDr. Richard Gartner. He's psychologist, psychoanalyst practicing in New York. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Amos Kamil, I want to ask you a question that, you know, has been brought up over and over and over again: the issue of remembering things that may not have happened. Did you worry about that at all as you talked with the folks who had gone to the Horace Mann School?
KAMILI did from a reportorial standpoint. Just -- I wanted to know that what they were telling me was the truth. But as I started to talk to a wide swath of my former HMers, all the stories started to sound the same. And the grooming process really started to have a structure to it, depending on who the teacher was.
KAMILSo it was something like pick out the kid who's going to be least likely to talk, bring him in a little bit closer, or her a little bit closer, and let them call you by a nickname, or, if it was sports, take him out -- all these things that look normal -- take them out to dinner or go to the movies. And then, slowly, once you gain that trust, it's sort of like reeling in a fish. So these stories started to appear over and over and over again, people from the 1990s back to the 1970s. So I personally was starting to believe them. I can't speak to memory. I'm certainly not an expert on that.
REHMAnd going to one more thing, before we take a break, Frank Cervone, what is the statute of limitation on child abuse accusations? Because that's something that's so important here.
CERVONEEvery state has its own. These are generally issues of state law, and so each state legislature is making determinations. Where I come from in Pennsylvania, after the disclosures in the Philadelphia clergy abuse, the statutes were extended substantially. So today in Pennsylvania, child victims -- perpetrators of child victims can be prosecuted criminally to the child's age of 50, right, if the event occurred when the person was a child.
CERVONEAnd for civil liability -- this is the so-called window legislation, whether victims can file civilly for damages -- the age is now 30. That is, 12 years after reaching the age of majority. Many states, it's still only two years after the age of majority.
REHMTwo years after the age of 18?
CERVONEThat's right. So...
CERVONE...just generally in the law, the statute of limitations are what we call tolled. They're held up until a child turns 18, and then the clock starts to run.
REHMDo you think that those laws should be changed?
KAMILDiane, this is...
REHMLet's take a short break here. And when we come back, it's time to open the phones, 800-433-8850. Stay with us.
REHMAnd it's time to open the phones. We'll go first to Dean in Stony Brook, N.Y. Good morning to you.
DEANGood morning. I'm a journalism professor at Stony Brook University. But I was a newspaper editor for 14 years. This issue was a big part of our coverage. We uncovered a Boy Scout scandal very like this. And I have two comments. One is the Mann -- the boys at Mann can take a lot of comfort from the fact that, because it's a Manhattan prep school, this issue will now get coverage in a way that it never has before just because the national media is huddled there on the Hudson.
DEANAnd the second is that the victims that we covered repeatedly told us that the coverage was really important for them because finally someone had believed them. I don't want to discourage people from reporting, but I want journalists in particular and police to understand that one of the first reactions to a report from powerful people is to attack the victim. That's what happened in Idaho Falls, Idaho where I was an editor. The most powerful man in the community went after the victims and essentially, you know, discredited their story in any way that he could.
DEANAnd it took probably two years before he finally apologized to them. So there's that. And, for people who are trying to think through this case, there's a great documentary that was done by a frontline offshoot called "In A Small Town"-- it's on WNAT's website -- and it walks you through what happens in the aftermath. The reporting is just the beginning of the journey, in my experience, for the victim, and it's a really difficult journey.
REHMAll right. Thanks for your call, Dean. Go ahead, Dr. Gold.
GOLDAnd in my experience in working with patients, some of whom have reported formally, some of whom haven't, who have just reported within families, et cetera, it's absolutely a common thing for the victims to be blamed, attacked, not supported because people don't want to believe that, you know, their family members, their institutions, whatever are harboring or have harbored this or that such a thing could go on and they wouldn't notice it.
GOLDAnd the way the legal system is set up, people who've been victimized often feel, once they report -- as the gentleman just said, it's just the beginning -- they feel that they end up victimized twice because it's so common for a defense tactic in this kind of situation to try to discredit the victim often by applying -- inappropriately applying psychiatric diagnoses that somehow imply that, you know, because...
REHMSomething's wrong with the victim that...
GOLDRight, as if someone who has a psychiatric diagnosis doesn't know the difference between, you know, a truth and a lie.
REHMAmos, I'd be interested in the kinds of reactions you've gotten. You said they were mostly positive, but have there been some who are saying, you know, how could you be so disloyal to your school? And do you agree with Dean that, now that the Horace Mann School is involved, this is likely to bring that school down?
KAMILWell, I think a lot of people were asking me why now? And the question I sort of shoot back is, why not then? Why have we waited so long? And, basically, the issue that was just brought up about blaming the victim, I'm seeing in real time on one of these Facebook private sites as people process thing -- this thing. There's definitely a blaming of the victims going on. I have victims calling me and emailing me on the side, saying, I've never been so hurt. No wonder I'm not going to talk. So I'm watching what was just said play out in real time.
REHMDo you believe that, at any time, the principal of Horace Mann School, the superintendent of Horace Mann School had any idea of what was going on?
KAMILThat's a really hard question to answer. This -- we're going back certain -- many years. But my sense was that more people then knew than didn't. And there was a couple of -- there's a particular -- one particular case where a kid in 1993 wrote a letter to the administration. And it's in the article in the administration. And he was told, essentially, that if -- unless he had videotape, there was nothing that the school could do about it. And he went away and, subsequently in the last few years, committed suicide, so...
CERVONEYeah, so it's -- this was...
REHMGo ahead, Frank.
CERVONEThis is why we, in a sense, in victim advocacy, we urge investigators and others to have a kind of default premise that the child will be believed. We start there. All right. We encourage just as we encourage parents to take that kind of approach. In the first...
REHMBut then what happens when you've got these folks on the other side, saying that child does not know what he or she is talking about? You heard from the journalist who wrote about the Boy Scouts, who said this very powerful citizen comes along and besmirches the child. What do you do then?
CERVONERight. You have to let the story come out. The narrative has to be told, of course, in the court of law, in the interview. The state of the art in interviewing is for a community to have a forensic specialist who's doing an interview of a child, and that interview is videotaped. Now, everybody gets to see it and evaluate her credibility. Then we pick up the other pieces. What we also know about child sexual abuse is there's often very little other evidence, right.
CERVONEWe think of rape kits and the like. When the event gets called in the next morning, the adult woman, who's a victim of rape, is brought to an emergency room, and she is tested. And physical evidence is collected. In child sexual abuse, it often happened weeks, months, as we're seeing in the Penn State case, years later. There's no evidence. All we have is the child's story.
REHMAll right. And to John here in Washington, D.C. Hi there, John. You're on the air.
JOHNHello, Diane. You know, this is such a prevalent situation. I can't imagine a parent these days sending a child to a boarding school without really taking a lot of precaution. I went to a boarding school in -- outside of Seattle. It was sold and closed in 1970 for decades of child abuse. The Briscoe Memorial School and the Archdiocese of Seattle had to settle. And many of the men that were in the suit, recently as two or three years ago, were in their 50s and 60s. So I guess it varies from state to state how long you can sue or...
JOHN...the diocese or the authority involved can be held responsible. But...
REHMAnd, John, may I ask you a question? Were you one of those individuals who was abused?
JOHNNo. Luckily, I wasn't because I had a parent, a mother who came to the school to inquire about the physical abuse, the beatings that we were getting. And I think the kids that were more likely to be abused were the orphans or where parents didn't show an interest or didn't visit their kids. I was allowed to go home once a month after three years of being there. The first eight months, I wasn't even allowed to go home.
JOHNMy mother would come and visit me for 15 minutes or a half hour, and it was, like, an hour's drive outside of Seattle. So after a month, I was able to -- I got the beating when I came back from home to the school. And a month later, I was able to show her the markings and the bruises from the beating that occurred a month earlier.
REHMDr. Gold, that's a whole different, additional form of abuse.
GOLDWell, it -- and, yes. And, again, you know sexual abuse is, obviously, a type of physical abuse.
GOLDBut it has a much more -- in some ways, it has a very different kind of impact, obviously, because it's such a violation of a person's self-identity. And one of the things that happens is that people do grow up to really have a very difficult time figuring out who they are and how they relate to other people in the world, particularly when the abuse -- and this is true of physical abuse also -- but particularly when the abuse occurs with people -- by people with whom they have very ambivalent relationships.
GOLDThey both love them and hate them at the same time. It's not black and white, even strangers and, you know, the whole process of grooming. Why do they go through this process of grooming? Because if you create that ambivalent relationship, if the child both loves you and doesn't -- and hates you, it's a much more difficult thing for a child to figure out.
REHMAll right. To Lansing, Mich. and to Anthony. Good morning to you.
ANTHONYGood morning, Diane. Thank you for taking my call.
ANTHONYIt's such an important issue. My question has to do with institutions. The other trial in Pennsylvania that I'm really following closely is the trial of a high-ranking priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, who is accused of covering up the child abuse scandal. And I've also been reading articles about Orthodox Jews who are trying to say that you need rabbinical permission before you can go to civil authorities.
ANTHONYAnd I want to know, is there any way to break the institutional mindset that says we need to protect our own institution rather than protect the children who are being abused? Is there any way to break that cycle?
CERVONEI think you make a great point about systems of power and about how we are as people when we get together and create institutions. The several cases you mentioned demonstrate to me how close and conspiratorial even the most noble of institutions can be, that -- and telling us that transparency is so important. It's not just an idea. And leaders have to put out the message that's it's OK to challenge us. This has to come top-down as much as anything, so, you know, here's...
GARTNERIn that sense...
CERVONEGo ahead. I'm sorry.
GARTNERSo in that sense, I think that this is where the Horace Mann story can actually help this issue in a huge way because it's not just in private -- public schools. It's everywhere. And graduates from Horace Mann can help lean on lawmakers here. There's a marquee bill that's in the Senate right now and say, let's extend this 'cause it's helping to seal in the silence, the statute of limitations. So I think that that's another institution that needs to change, and, hopefully, there's light there.
REHMSure, sure. Amos, are any of the teachers at Horace Mann School, that the kids talked about, are they still alive?
KAMILThe people that were mentioned in the article, none of them are alive. But since the article went up on Wednesday, allegations have come pouring forth against six living teachers no longer associated with the school. But they're out there, and, from what I understand, these people -- predators will do this until the day they die.
KAMILSo one of the things that needs to be on the agenda of even the small Horace Mann group that's looking at this thing is stopping the people right now who are out there, help -- also helping to heal the victims that were victimized at Horace Mann, and also holding HM accountable as well. But there are people out there right now who have abused people not only in the period that I talked about in the piece. Now, I have people who have come out in the early '70s and much later, even in the '90s.
REHMAmos Kamil, and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." And to Tulsa, Okla. Good morning, Patty.
PATTYGood morning, Diane. I love the show.
PATTYI am -- I was raped at 10 years old. My mother was raped as a child. My grandmother was raped. We were all raped by relatives, and we had our different reasons for not reporting it. But I want to tell you that I become curious over hearing some of the logic behind not reporting these people because of their power. Let me go to Sandusky's case specifically. I'm no football fan. He has been an endeared personality. Everybody loved him all of these years.
PATTYAnd they just won't accept -- they feel like he did everything he could. My point is, if it were his son or grandson as a child, things would have been handled completely different by him. And as far as reporting it to known people or who you think are protecting people, like police, I will give you an example. We have a prominent college in Tulsa, and I know of several rapes on that university. They did not want that information out for fear of what it might do for students coming into the university and bringing in money.
REHMDr. Gartner, can you comment on that?
GARTNERWell, you know, what I'm hearing -- first of all, I want to say that it's not just a legal issue, which we seem to be talking about, but it's really a healing issue. And I want to point that up. And the most important harm that is done in sexual abuse, I think, is the betrayal that's been mentioned. It's an interpersonal kind of an event, and it has interpersonal damage that's done.
GARTNERAnd that's the heart of what needs to be done when we're trying to work clinically with somebody who's been sexually abused, to work on the ramifications that have taken place in later years, about what goes on in their relationships with authority figures, with partners, with children, with everybody.
GOLDYes. And I think that that's one of the reasons why the absolutely key feature in whether you're trying to get a group or a person to report, whether you're trying to help someone heal is support. Because there has been such damage, the need for support for individuals who have been victims of this is even greater. And that's why often you see one of the first things that happens now, not so much in the past, is that -- when you have story like the Horace Mann -- groups of people start coming together. They instinctively understand the need to support each other.
REHMDo you think that all of the publicities surrounding both the Sandusky case, Philadelphia case -- priests, do you think this is going to change anything, Frank?
CERVONEIt's the only thing than can change it. We know Philadelphia is a very Catholic town, and many, many faithful Catholics are waiting for this decision by the jury. And if it's an acquittal, they're going to say, oh, they had it all wrong. How very sad that will be.
REHMFrank Cervone, Dr. Liza Gold, Amos Kamil and Dr. Richard Gartner, thank you all so much. Thanks for listening, all. I'm Diane Rehm.
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