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Our Opinion: A salute to the bravery of sex assault victims

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As the child molestation accusations continue to unfold at Penn State and Syracuse University, it seems that there’s only one group involved that can be viewed with pride.

That’s the victims who were brave enough to come forward.

Many of us can only imagine the lasting pain these people may feel — even those who never report the abuse they were dealt by someone they knew and trusted.

Many of them feel such shame that they never reveal their secret, allowing their abusers to continue finding other victims with little fear of being caught.

That’s how many abusers brainwash thier victims — making them feel as if they are somehow to blame for what happened to them.

It is estimated that one in four girls and one in six boys will have experienced an episode of sexual abuse while younger than 18 years. 

The numbers of boys affected may be falsely low, however, because of reporting techniques, some authorities say.

As adults, survivors of child sexual abuse use coping mechanisms to deal with the horror of the abuse.

Many repress memories, disassociate or turn to substance abuse, self-mutilation and eating disorders.

Until they deal with what they have been through, their lives can unravel at a moment’s notice, or they live half-lives — unable to maintain relationships like normal people.

In order to recover, psychologists say, adult survivors must adopt positive coping behaviors and forgive themselves.

Societal influences can play a significant role in the recovery process.

Clear support from the public, rather than shrugging off the abuse, as many of the officials at Penn State and Syracuse are accused of doing, is a start.

We hope they and others like them get that support.