By Tashmica Torok
Dear Students of Penn State,
More specifically, those of you who are steadfast in your support of those involved in covering up the sexual abuse and victimization of Jerry Sandusky on several children.We do not know each other. My name is Tashmica and I am a victim of early sexual abuse.
My father was a youth pastor. He was known to his family as a good father. He was a dedicated soldier in the ARMY. He was funny and charming. People who knew him, liked him. They respected him. He was no Joe Paterno and staff but he was loved in our circle.
I agreed. I have often said that my father was a great father with the exception of being a pedophile. He taught me to sing and I have a beautiful voice. He taught me to walk with my head held high and to speak with intelligence. He taught me to use a telescope and to find the constellations. He taught me to work hard and value a good education. Unfortunately, all of my first sexual experiences were with him. ALL of them.
When I made the decision at ten years old to tell my mother what he had been doing to me a year after he died, his reputation was like a wave ready to crush me. I had no idea if anyone would believe me. I was a little bit of a girl. I wasn't a liar or a trouble maker but I was terrified.
First, Mrs. Pease, my third grade teacher believed me. She called a meeting with my mother. She held my hand and then she gently asked, "Do you want to tell your mom or would you like me to?"
And I told her. And she believed me. Let the healing begin.
It has been 21 years since I sat in that child sized chair as a little bit of a girl. I have spent years in and out of counseling trying to make sense of how those terrible acts changed me. I have wrestled with the question, "Why?" and I have released myself from finding the elusive answer. I have dealt with fear, anxiety, insomnia and simple developmental behavioral issues that I didn't get to master because I was too busy surviving.
I have no idea if or when this healing will ever be complete. The wound is deep and splintered into so many areas. My father was a good man. A man like Joe Paterno, Jerry Sandusky and many others involved in the destruction of several child victims.
As a victim myself, I sat in heartbreaking rapt attention while watching the yard full of students protesting his firing. My skin began to itch and my eyes begin to close. The sorrow is just now catching up to me. I felt like hundreds of people all gathered in my front yard to cheer what a good man my father was. I felt again the weight of worthlessness. I am certain that I am not alone.
That will always be part of the injustice for children who are sexually abused. It is impossible to reconcile the love and respect you have for the person who manipulated and violated you.
Unfortunately, your signs, your cheering and your adulation have only made it more confusing. You have made very clear the worth of the children who were so much braver than those good men. They were not silent. They were disregarded.
I hope this helps. I hope that after this explanation you are now the wiser. I hope you find your feet in another yard next time. I would have appreciated it when I was ten years old and I had to be braver than a good man.
This was printed in the January 29, 2012 - February 11, 2012 Edition