What if flawed institutions owned up to their silence?

By Beth Morrison, HAVEN CEO

Every time I read about all the adults involved in allowing Jerry Sandusky to sexually assault children, I am sickened.

The Freeh report released yesterday just confirms what most have assumed. A group of privileged men of power decided that they, their positions, their colleague, and the game of football was more important that the wellbeing of children.

What is equally scary in all of this, the men of the PennState scandal are fathers, grandfathers, husbands, uncles and friends of large circles of women and children. Did none of them stop and say to themselves “what if?”

I know many of you are also shaking your heads and thinking how can anyone do that? PennState reminds me of so many other cases and cover ups including the Catholic Church scandal. So I have to wonder:  How many other cover-ups of sexual violence are there? Small scale or large scale- One cover-up is one too many.

Back in February, a HAVEN colleague, Cristy Cardinal, wrote an excellent blog post titled One in One. She writes, “…choosing to do nothing does have consequences, potentially worse. When you don’t act you’re sending messages to the perpetrator that this behavior is accepted and OK, to the victim that what is happening is not a big deal, and to the other bystanders that is acceptable to not act. All of these are very negative consequences which contribute to further violence. Silence is complicit.”

Imagine along with me for a moment. What if PennState, the Catholic Church and other flawed institutions within our society, really stood up and owned up to their silence. Imagine the leadership that could be provided. Imagine groups of privileged men of power speaking out with sincerity and action. And how their influence could change the societal norms that presently accept violence against women and children

We can provide all the supportive services in the world to victims of sexual and domestic violence but until ALL perpetrators (those who acted and those who failed to act) are held accountable, these horrific crimes are going to continue. Until we can get ALL in our society to stand up against such violence, we will continue to be reactive versus proactive. And the victimization will continue.

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1 Comment

Filed under Call to action

One response to “What if flawed institutions owned up to their silence?

  1. dawn zachow

    Beth, thank you for bravely speaking about this topic. It sickens me to think of the number of children sacrificed in the name of football. I firmly believe, as I’ve been taught by HAVEN, that men as active and involved allies are the key to ending violence against women and children. Until we place human life before all other things — including sports and religious dogma — victimization of those who cannot protect themselves will continue.

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