Criminal trials, as with time, do not heal all wounds

I guess today and all the days that follow it will feel like this, until the Jerry Sandusky trial is over. Waiting on the kind of justice that’s never going to show up, no matter which way this thing goes.

Short of a meteor landing on his head, Sandusky doesn’t go away. He’ll own a presence, inside or out. Because as much as monsters thrive in darkness, the sad truth is they do not succumb to the light shone upon them. They still own the moments they steal, and the lives they steal those moments from. A criminal trial ends his reign of terror, but he still possesses something his victims never had. A chance.

I’ve listened to a lot of people talk about the “healing process”. They talked about it when Penn State played Nebraska in the first game after Sandusky was arrested. They talked about it again after Penn State hired a new head coach. As if ‘healing’ is a one size fits all solution; as if sexual abuse can be covered up with the fresh paint of games and new faces on campus.

It didn’t happen then, it won’t happen with this trial.

The process of healing does not happen on command. It is not convenient, it is not pretty. You can’t dress it up to mean something it doesn’t. Victims of sexual abuse don’t concern themselves with healing so much as they concern themselves with trying to find a reason to keep going. To heal is to make whole again, and that ain’t happening.

And when this trial is over? It’ll be like the circus leaving town. The news vans will fold their tents and the lawyers will clean up. After which we’ll get more of the “healing process” round of summit table talk. Spoken by people who have no idea what it means to search for pieces of yourself that you can’t find, because those pieces belong to someone else and always will.

It’s a hell of a thing to be a child who prays not to wake up in the morning.

This trial, and its outcome, won’t heal that.

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12 thoughts on “Criminal trials, as with time, do not heal all wounds

    • Thanks Simone. I live in the land of Blue and White pom poms. To speak ill of Penn State is akin to speaking ill of the Pope inside Vatican City. That’s why this monster was allowed to prey on children for as long as he did. Because everyone was more interested in being a part of Rushmore than in what was really going on.

  1. Excellent post, Cayman… very well put.

    ” Victims of sexual abuse don’t concern themselves with healing so much as they concern themselves with trying to find a reason to keep going.”

    I could not have said that better myself. The ‘healing process’ is what those say who have never been through such a horrific ordeal… they haven’t a clue, spouting their textbook answers and talk show platitudes!

    We heal in our own time… in our own way. Justice is an appeasement to society’s sensibilities… it doesn’t heal the victim… not in any meaningful way. 25 years behind bars isn’t going to heal the scars left behind. It isn’t going to give back one’s innocence… it isn’t going to erase any memories. Justice isn’t going to give back all that has been taken from us.

    All those ‘talking heads’ can spout off off all they want (all they care about is ratings), but until they’ve danced with the devil, don’t try to tell me how I’m going to be healed.

  2. Another great read Cayman! As a victim of abuse when I was in what they used to call, “the informative years”, I can tell you that you never heal. There are only varying degrees of intermittent sadness, anger, depression, and sometimes just numbness. What makes my experience even worse, was that it came at a time when you never reported this type of crime for fear of retaliation and moreover, adults were more believed back in the day…kids just “made up stories and embellished”, and so the guilty are never called to justice. That’s what makes the anger and the pain even more extreme.
    The comment by Veronica above where she wrote “Justice is an appeasement to society’s sensibilities… it doesn’t heal the victim…” is probably true. I wouldn’t know. But I wish that that opportunity existed in my case all those years ago anyway. Unfortunately, given the times, the accuser(s) would never have seen the inside of a courtroom anyway..And if they did, the case would have been adjudicated in their favor to be sure.
    There has to be a special Hell for people like Sandusky and Fine, et al, and hopefully that is where they will ultimately wind up…
    Thanks for sharing your article with us and writing it so eloquently…

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