Denial and Sexual Offender Spouses
Former Penn State Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky is out of jail on bond while accusations of child molestation still hang over him. New allegations that his wife, Dottie, knew what he was doing with young boys has put her under fire as well.
A new accuser says Dottie Sandusky was aware of her husband's alleged child abuse in their own home. So why wouldn't she report it? An expert told me in cases like this, the spouse of the abuser may not have a conscious choice.
“You might not allow yourself to know through the psychological defense mechanism of denial. You might have heard something but oh, it wasn’t that, it couldn’t be that.”
Rita Lawrence is a victim advocate with Alachua County and also a Penn State graduate. She's been following the Sandusky case closely, as well as the new accusations against his wife.
“I think it might not be blocked out as much as maybe that was something else, or 'I’m not sure I heard that'. “
Dottie Sandusky has remained steadfast in supporting her husband. But new accusations from a boy called Victim 9 in court records indicates Dottie was in the house when Victim 9 was abused by her husband. Lawrence has seen similar reactions from women whose spouses are incestuous.
“I have plenty of cases where mothers stayed with fathers who were molesting their daughters," she says. "Even when, maybe they did know. There’s sometimes just a lot of different factors weighing on someone even though it shouldn’t be that way.”
And if Dottie Sandusky is in denial, Lawrence says the truth could be devastating.
“I know that maybe it’d be easy to want to blame her, too," she adds. "But I can see just having worked with people, sometimes you just can’t fathom that that would be someone that you love that dearly could do that.”
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