EDITORIAL: A Sandusky who gives hope to abuse survivors

York Dispatch
  • Matt Sandusky, the adopted son of Jerry Sandusky, was in York County last week.
  • Matt Sandusky is an abuse survivor who has dedicated himself to helping other abuse survivors.
  • Matt Sandusky said he is “trying to get people to start a conversation” about abuse.

Given his family affiliation, it would be easy for Matt Sandusky to shun the spotlight.

After all, his family's last name has become synonymous with child sex abuse in Pennsylvania and across the nation.

Matt Sandusky talks with staff at Turning Point on Wednesday , Feb. 22. Sandusky was there to announce that the Springettsbury Township victims organization was now offering their services to men and boys. John A. Pavoncello photo

His adopted father, former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, was convicted of the sexual abuse of 10 boys and is serving a lengthy prison sentence. It was a case that rocked the state, tarnished the reputation of Pennsylvania's most prominent university and brought down a football icon in Joe Paterno.

Then, just a couple of weeks ago, Jeffrey Sandusky, who also is  the adopted son of Jerry Sandusky, was charged with sex crimes involving two girls.

Given that background, most folks with the last name of Sandusky would likely try their hardest to remain under the public's radar.

Matt Sandusky, however, has taken a different approach.

He's courageously admitted that he's a child sex abuse survivor and that his abuser was his adopted father.

It doesn't stop there, however. Matt Sandusky also has  become a strong advocate for other sexual-assault survivors through his Peaceful Hearts Foundation.

He's traveled around North America telling his story and also documented it in a memoir titled “Undaunted,” which was released in late 2015.

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

Last week, Matt Sandusky spoke at Turning Point in Springettsbury Township, which is a center that provides therapy for child sex-abuse victims. That center is expanding its services to include men and boys. Matt Sandusky is a believer that organizations that help child sex-abuse victims should have gender-neutral names and help victims of any gender.

“I'm trying to get people to start a conversation,” he said simply during his stop in York County.

In addition to supporting services for existing victims, Matt Sandusky also emphasizes the importance of preventative measures, starting with education.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 percent of boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. That's a shocking number, and Matt Sandusky believes that number is “extremely conservative.”

VIDEO: Matthew Sandusky talks about Turning Point

It is statistics such as that, and his own personal experiences, that drive Matt Sandusky to make a difference.

So, instead of doing the easy thing and hiding in a corner, he'll continue his fight to help those like himself.

His determination is a much-needed beacon of hope that has emerged from the dark recesses of the terrible scandal that his adopted father fomented.