Men Who were Abused as Boys

By reducing those who sexually abuse men and boys to “Sanduskys”, we put a generic face on a very real problem.

Men who were abused as boys were abused by individuals, not by a caricature. I find it disheartening that some have suggested we have to work hard to protect our children from other “Sanduskys.”

It seems to me that using the name of Jerry Sandusky, perhaps the most high profile child abuser to have been convicted in quite some time, creates a caricature of what is a horrible crime committed against a person. Of the hundreds of thousands of men who access our website annually, I doubt that even one would want to describe the person who abused him as a generic “Sandusky.” The men, and sometimes women, older boys or girls who hurt them have real names, real personalities, real connections to the child who was victimized. In some cases, they are family members or other trusted persons and what happened to their victims was life-altering and profoundly hurtful.

To take it further, there are over 25,000 residents of Sandusky, Ohio who no doubt would not want to be included in a broad-brush manner with child sexual abuse and their town. Or, the almost 3,000 families in our country who have the last name Sandusky. One such family is the Gerry Sandusky family in the Baltimore area. In fact, this Gerry with a “G” not Jerry with a “J” Sandusky made one of the most powerful and poignant statements about what happened to the survivors of abuse at the hands of Jerry Sandusky of Penn State, in an interview with Rick Reilly on ESPN.

Gerry with a “G” Sandusky gets it. It’s about individuals who were abused by other individuals – complex, sometimes delusional, sometimes cruel, selfish or even violent individuals, but not the caricatured monsters that we find it so easy to paint the people who sexually abuse children to be.

To close, may I suggest that we call those that abuse with a description of their actions– their offense? Saying, “the person who sexually abused those children” or “the coach who sexually assaulted a child in his care” captures the magnitude of the betrayal and the gravity of the crime and not just the easy caricaturization of the moment.

Please note that these words are my own and not those of the organization that I founded and run today.

Steve LePore is the Founder and Executive Director of 1in6.


You might also enjoy: “Can Any Good Come from the Sandusky Sexual Abuse Trial?”

Photo credit: Flickr / wonderferret

About 1in6

The mission of 1in6 is to help men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood live healthier, happier lives. 1in6′s mission also includes serving family members, friends, and partners by providing information and support resources on the web and in the community.


  1. Hi, I’m doing my MA in Queer Theory at the Birmingham School of art. Currently researching on the representation of the psychological tensions of the individual caused by the influence of society, I hope my final presentation will be an installation that will investigate the idea of beauty as an internal space contaminated by the external (in that case will be child abusing, being abused myself at the age of 6). Please follow me on wordpress at

  2. I hate to be brutally honest but many abusers are in your own family circle. 93% of kids know and trust their perpetrators . Predators prey. They prey on vulnerable children; children who do not know their rights about their body, and young children who just want to be good and do what the ‘big person’ says. Sound familiar: “Now be good and do what Uncle says.” Educate your kids in sexual abuse prevention education. If there is any chance the secret will be told, abusers will not target that child. Pedophiles rely very heavily on secrets being kept. Educate your kids PLEASE!

  3. It’s Halloween – people dress up as Monsters!

    Which is the most scary and frightening, Freddy Krugger or Jerry Sandusky?

    You have two options for a costume – Freddy Krugger or Jerry Sandusky. Choose!

    Funny how so many go for the least scary option of Krugger because they are far too scared of being seen as Sandusky!

    • Depicting paedophiles as monsters is not helpful. The acts are monstrous, but they are committed by people.

      People ask how such a monster can get away with peadophilia. The answer is that no-one knew that they were a monster, until the media tells everyone. Before the first reports everyone thought Sandusky was a great guy.

      When we ask people to stop child abuse, we are asking them to report a person, someone that they may know. The witness knows that this man or woman is not a monster, because they have seen them live a normal human life. Their friend, colleague, boss or babysitter cannot possibly be one of those monstrous Sanduskys. Knowing that this person committed an act of child abuse, and is also a person can seem like mutually exclusive statements. The easiest thing to do is not believe the child.

      You need to know that paedophiles are human, and you probably know one. Then you can start reporting.


      If we keep a model of paedophiles as monsters, we end up with policies that target strange men, not policies that actually protect children.

      • If we keep a model of paedophiles as monsters, we end up with policies that target strange men, not policies that actually protect children.

        Oh – Don’t I agree with that!

        I recently shocked the hell out of a group of Police Officers when they were shown material concerning this issue. In the UK the most common form of Hate Crime against Visibly Disabled Men is to be called Paedophile. There is literally a 100% incidence rate. It shocked the C### out of the police as they could see no reason or mechanism for it. They had to get some eduction in History – Sociology – Psychology … and seasoned with quite a dollop of Theology so they could get with reality.

        Labelling for convenience and out of sheer laziness allows labels to slip and get transferred – along with the Gross Stereotypes!

        …. and I still do wonder if so many are willing to throw that Monster Label about, if they will wear a Sandusky Costume for Halloween?

        Some people just don’t have the courage of their own convictions! P^)


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