As a mother I talk about how much my life has changed since having children. My priorities are different, there are always lots of tasks on the to-do list that I never accomplish, and I really miss getting a good night sleep.
One thing I don’t talk about is how much my view of the world has changed since I became a mom. My biggest fear is that one of my children will be abducted or abused. Sometimes I have to shut-off the news or a tv show because I can’t bare to think about my children being involved in a similar situation – the very thought is too painful.
Juliana has always attracted a lot of extra attention when we are out. I see people watching her in stores. Strangers talk about her blond hair and ask me questions about her, many questions that go unanswered because they aren’t appropriate.
On one occasion when Juliana was much younger my mom was with her in the mall and she noticed a man sitting on a bench watching them. Later she noticed that same man watching them in another part of the mall. At that point she picked up Juliana and immediately brought her home.
I went through several years where I would feel physically ill if Juliana was out in public with anyone but me for more than an hour. My heart still skips a beat when she ducks out of my view in a store.
We don’t leave the kids with anyone except their Grandparents or very close friends. Juliana has reached the age of birthday parties where parents drop-off their kids. Her party was in a public place that anyone could come in and out of and some kids were dropped off so their parents could enjoy 2 hours to run errands – none of these parents had met me before that day. Maybe I am over protective but it seemed odd to me.
As they get older they spend time with more adults that I don’t know – I have only met a small percentage of the teachers and staff at Juliana’s school yet they interact with her and know her name. I need to trust that we have chosen a safe place for her.
Teachers, coaches, counselors and mentors – these are the people that I trust with the most valuable part of my life. We are supposed to believe that schools and community programs are designed to enrich their lives not cause them harm. That they are a safe place for our children.
Many parents put their faith in The Second Mile in State College, PA “a non-profit organization for children who need additional support and who would benefit from positive human contact. The Second Mile plans, organizes, and offers activities and programs for children – and adults who work with them – to promote self-confidence as well as physical, academic, and personal success” – quote from the about us page for The Second Mile.
There are many success stories, children who were given the support that they needed and went on to lead better lives. Unfortunately there are a growing number of victims who were targeted and sexually abused by the founder of the organization. Some of this abuse took place on the campus of Penn State and there were powerful people who knew what happened and did nothing to prevent him from harming other children.
Penn State was home to me. Penn State was family. Unless you have lived in the bubble that is University Park / State College, this sentiment may sound absurd. I have so many amazing memories of the four years I spent there and many of those memories revolve around perfect fall days watching football. I want to bottle those memories and keep them separate from the current ugliness in the news. I want to believe that the media isn’t talking about Penn State, not my Happy Valley.
Through the eyes of a mother I see a place that protected a predator and it makes me so angry.
I hope that the victims continue to come forward and strengthen the case against Sandusky so he is never alone with another child. I hope that the media attention makes everyone realize that it is never OK to turn a blind eye to sexual abuse.
I hope that the money raised for RAINN through Proud to be a Penn Stater helps other victims find the support they need (at this point over $380,000 has been raised in less than one week). I personally donated last week and since then have been receiving updates on the fundraising program and how this tragedy is encouraging many victims to seek help for the first time. Here is the latest update.
Four days into the #ProudPSUforRAINN campaign, we find ourselves overwhelmed with deep gratitude as donations and kind messages continue to pour in. We’ve currently amassed nearly 9,000 Proud Supporters and $350,000 in donations for survivors of sexual violence. Thank you for your incredible support.
Since #ProudPSUforRAINN launched 2 days ago, RAINN has seen a 38% increase in the number of individuals seeking help from the Online Hotline. RAINN’s hotline director, Jennifer Marsh, said, “We’re seeing an outpouring of people reaching out for help – women and men, boys and girls – many of whom have been encouraged to get help for the first time as a result of this tragedy.”
In just 4 days, #ProudPSUforRAINN has raised enough funds to enable 8,300 survivors of sexual abuse to get the support that they need and deserve through RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline. In addition, 5.1 million people have been connected with vital information on sexual abuse recovery through rainn.org, twitter and facebook.
The #ProudPSUforRAINN movement is showing the world what being a Proud Penn Stater is really all about – honoring moral integrity and standing up for what’s right. Let us keep the survivors of this tragedy in mind as we continue to climb past $500,000 – one dollar for each of Penn State’s 557,000 alumni.
RAINN President and Founder