After news of the Penn State scandal broke, sex abuse hotlines are ringing like mad — for at least one national hotline, at 54 percent above normal, with victims who have decided to speak out, says Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak. “I haven't seen anything like it. I've been doing this for 10 years now, I've never seen any type of reaction like this,” said Jennifer Marsh, who is the hotline director at the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network, which is based in Washington, D.C., and takes calls and e-mails from all over the nation.
At that hotline, 72 percent of the victims who reach out are between 13 and 24, and half of them are discussing abuse or rapes that took place five or more years ago, Marsh said. “A lot of them are male,” Marsh said. “When they go online to reach us, it's usually male victims, because of the anonymity they find online.” This broken silence might be the only positive legacy of the Penn State scandal and the spectacle of a pillar of the community being charged with 40 counts of sexually abusing children for 15 years. A string of similar tragedies is being unwound elsewhere; Syracuse University fired assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine over the weekend after a third man came forward with accusations that he was molested by Fine when he was a ball boy. The first accuser said he was inspired by the Sandusky victims.