Matt Sandusky: 'I'm trying to get people to start a conversation'

Matt Sandusky has made it a mission to advocate for sexual assault survivors

Junior Gonzalez

Matt Sandusky has made it a mission to advocate for sexual assault survivors. With his organization, Peaceful Hearts Foundation, he has traveled around North America telling his story and documented it in a memoir, titled “Undaunted,” released in late 2015.

“I’m trying to get people to start a conversation,” he said.

Sandusky, the adopted son of Jerry Sandusky and a survivor of abuse, spoke Wednesday at Turning Point in Springettsbury Township as the center, which provides therapy for child sex abuse victims, expanded its services to include men and boys.

He spoke afterward with The York Dispatch on his work and his plans for helping other survivors.

Advisory Board Member Matt Sandusky was on hand at Turning Point, Wednesday , Feb. 22, 2017 to announce that the Springettsbury Township victims organization was now offering their services to men and boys. John A. Pavoncello photo

Gender neutrality: In his hometown of State College, Sandusky noticed how many of the services are already gendered.

“We have the (State College) Women’s Resource Center, which offers services for males,” he said. “But you wouldn’t know that based off of their title.”

He adds that having gender neutral business titles would help, as well as having “a specific organization (that) will really go far to help men and children get the support services they need.”

Prevention: Sandusky said that sexual assault service centers should do more to reach out to men and boys and applauded Turning Point for the expansion.

“It’s a huge step,” he said. “It’s something that a lot of other sexual assault centers haven’t done.”

In addition to ensuring support services for victims, Sandusky wants make sure that preventative measures are taken as well.

“We know that the best form to prevent child sexual abuse is education,” he said. “Starting it in elementary schools (and) teaching body safety and empowerment for kids to speak out.”

Speaking out: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 percent of boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.

“I think that’s extremely conservative,” Sandusky said. He said that research studies have shown that some men report their incidents as long as 20 years after it occurred.

“And that’s even if they (ever) do,” he said.

Sandusky said that child sexual assault is an issue that has not been properly treated for too long.

“Child sexual abuse has been around since the 18th century," he said. "There has to be a way to have a meaningful and impactful stance to prevent this from happening.”