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Sandusky's abuse victims on long road to recovery, experts say

Published On: Jun 24 2012 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 09 2012 05:06:25 AM CDT

Convicted sex offender Jerry Sandusky is asking his attorneys to get him out of solitary confinement.

While Jerry Sandusky adjusts to life as an inmate, experts said his victims may have a long road to recovery after having to testify and recount the years of abuse.

It's one thing to tell a parent or to tell a therapist, but it's another to share that kind of trauma with the world.

"This trial was not something that they sought," said Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly.

But rather something that forced them to face the demons of their past.

Eight of the 10 victims in the Jerry Sandusky trial testified in very graphic detail they were sexually abused as children by Jerry Sandusky.

Dr. Veronique Valliere, a psychologist, said those men probably felt a wide gamut of emotions, then and now.

"Sometimes, victims feel very empowered and supported. Sometimes, the testimony may bring back flashbacks, intrusive memories," said Valliere.

It's likely some of the victims shared two things while on the stand -- a deep sense of painful regret that they didn't come forward sooner, possibly saving others from the same experience, and the knowledge that every word they spoke was being judged by those who heard them, said Valliere.

"One of the biggest things that victims encounter is our expectations of how they should sound how they should act how they should feel," said Valliere, noting that there's no way to erase the damage Sandusky did to his victims.

The relationship he built with them, combined with his stature in the community, complicated the victims ability to talk about the abuse, said Valliere.

It may continue to have an impact on the victims emotional recovery, despite a guilty verdict, she said.

"Convictions usually give a sense of relief that they were believed, but it doesn't necessarily give a sense of justice, or they don't necessary feel like their offender was a monster," said Valliere.

This case, Valliere said, may change the way people talk about sexual abuse, especially male on male abuse.