SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Child sex abuse advocates say the crime is the number one health epidemic we face as a country and some big-name speakers are here in Utah to raise awareness.
The adopted son of convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky shared his story with ABC4’s Brittany Johnson.
“This was the biggest secret that I had kept for 33 years of my life. I didn’t want one single person knowing,” Matt Sandusky admitted, before opening up about the sexual abuse he says the infamous Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach put him through.
“It was everything you could imagine a grown man sexually victimizing a young boy doing. I don’t talk in detail about what I was forced to do and what he did, but you can use your imagination.”
Matt says he suffered at the hands of his father from the ages of eight to 17.
“I was drug-addicted, alcohol addicted, at 11,12-years-old, trying to cope. I burned myself. and at 17 I attempted to take my life,” the survivor explained.
Matt says Jerry used his non-profit organization to not only provide help for at-risk children but to identify, target and groom the most vulnerable.
“Perpetrators put themselves in positions to be around children and put themselves in positions where people will trust them. They don’t only groom the child, they groom the environment, they groom the families and they groom the communities to believe that they’re something that they’re not so they can operate in the shadows so to speak.”
Child abuse is more prevalent than most people realize. According to the organization Darkness to Light, about one in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday, and 90 percent of children who are victims of sexual abuse know their abuser.
Knowing the statistics, Matt is encouraging everyone to join Saturday’s March to end Child Abuse.
“It is the number one health epidemic that we face as a country but we have no politician talking about that. It’s important that we the people say enough is enough. Our children are far too important for this to happen to them anymore.”
The march is spear-headed by the organization Protect Every Child. It takes place Saturday, October 5 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Advocates will march from the Salt Lake City & County Building to the Utah State Capitol.
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