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  • Emilie Surrusco

Reflections on Penn State…

Everyone has something to say about the Penn State scandal. I too have been riveted by every awful detail and as the mother of a young son, I’ve felt anguish and anger toward Jerry Sandusky, a predator that was allowed to continue unchecked for so many years. But there’s another piece that has weighed on me – that of the many people who saw, suspected but chose not to intervene. Because let there be no mistake, they made the choice not to do something. The responsibility ultimately is their own. This bystander mentality exists in the face of so many types of abuse. During the two and a half years that I was under the control of my own predator, there were many people who saw and suspected – some acted, others didn’t.

Those that acted tried to get me out. I resisted and told them I didn’t know how. Those that didn’t act saw so much and stood by without saying a word. One person in particular, my abuser’s roommate, saw pretty much all of it. He never told me that I deserved better or that I could find a way out. He never put his hand on my shoulder or held me when I cried. I’m still angry at him today. I’m not sure that my anger is fair. The truth is, if he had intervened, I would have found some way to push him away. Ultimately my safety wasn’t his responsibility. But that’s just it isn’t it? Where exactly does our responsibility end as human beings?  From the victims of Jerry Sandusky to the homeless man on the street to the young college girl abused by her boyfriend, we owe some semblance of compassion, empathy – responsibility. Whether we admit it or not, their suffering affects us all.

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