FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Childhood sexual abuse survivor Matthew Sandusky spoke in Florence Wednesday night about his adopted father and his own experiences of overcoming sexual abuse at the hands of the former Penn State Assistant football coach.
The Florence Civic Center was filled with more than 180 people who came out to listen to the inspirational story. Sandusky says he will never stop fighting to prevent sexual abuse. "People try to silence me, but it's not going to happen. This is my opportunity to create change for those of us who are still hurting and those of us who are abused can get the help and be protected," said Sandusky.
Sandusky started out his speech with a statistic saying one in three girls and one in five boys will be sexually abused by the time they are 18 years old, and 90 percent of the time, it's from someone they know and trust. Sandusky is one of those statistics.
He said, "It started with a hand on the leg in the car and progressed. He tested and pushed my boundaries; I never thought about telling, he said, adding that he later made the decision to stand up against sexual abuse for the rest of his life.
"Honestly that moment didn't happen until two years after I disclosed my abuse because I went into therapy, intense therapy, where I knew I needed to work on myself and get through this to get back to a place where I'm standing on solid ground," Sandusky said.
Susan Jordan, a licensed independent social worker at Circle Park in Florence, was in attendance. She plans to take what she heard Sandusky say to help inspire her own patients. Jordan said, "It's so hard for a male to admit being abused in any way, let alone sexually. It takes a lot of courage for somebody to have that willingness and say 'Yeah, this happened, and it was not okay."
Sandusky said on stage, "Once these perpetrators get there claws into children, it is very hard to break from that. So we need to empower children, we need to be proactive."
He encouraged everyone to help keep their own community safe and be a light to a very dark issue. "It's to show them no matter what the odds are and how they are stacked up against you, you can overcome it. Just keep fighting, I'm extending a hand to you," Sandusky said.
All of the money raised from the event will go towards the Durant Children's Center in Florence to raise awareness and help end sexual child abuse in the Pee Dee.