Is there any value in the media giving out details of sexual abuse?

I was catching up on the testimony in the Sandusky case and I read what the assistant said. This is the guy who said that he saw something happening in the showers and then reported it to Paterno. As I was reading something hit me rather hard and I found it disturbing, which in turn led to my question, the title of this post.

In all the articles covering the testimony, the journalist who wrote it said what this man saw. What I mean is specifics. enough specifics that an image can form in your head of what he saw.

That bothered me a lot and I realized that this is not the first time I’ve read a news article describing details of sexual abuse. These victims were, and some still are, kids. What value is there in writing out the details so people can imagine it? I’m seriously asking.

Part of me could only think about the other predators out there reading these articles and getting off on it. How is that helpful? And are the details added to make the articles more titillating? That’s disturbing too. It feels wrong to know that thousands of people are reading this and then having the image form in their head. Children were hurt and it feels like the details are being put out there, not to make people support the victims or to expose the horrific nature of the crime, but to excite and make people gasp. Is it entertainment now? Or am I just taking this badly?


About CimmarianInk

Abuse Survivor Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) also known as Multiple Personalities
This entry was posted in Child Molestation, Sexual Abuse and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Is there any value in the media giving out details of sexual abuse?

  1. alice says:

    Im quite lucky as i dont have as much coverage of what happened here but i dont see how it could help anyone to have to details, all it does is trigger or upset people and if it doesnt upset them then theyre enjoying reading about it. I dont see any good from it.
    Take care of yourself x

  2. Sarah Olson says:

    I’m not justifying anything in the media. I’m sure their agenda to sell papers is completely at work in this. But there *is* value in making details known in the Penn State case.

    How so? The graphic description is the single piece of information that completely refutes Sandusky’s claims that it was all just fun in the shower. Without that particular information, and that it came from a credible adult witness, the story would devolve into the lame excuses Sandusky has made: “it was all just a misunderstanding” or “it wasn’t like that” or “it wasn’t that bad”. Well, yes, it was that bad, and the graphic details don’t allow any other conclusion.

    Beyond Penn State, the more the public is sheltered from the realities of child abuse, the harder it is for survivors to be believed, or for perps in positions of authority to be caught. This case has opened the way for millions of people — including many parents — to talk about child abuse done by “trusted” people. It’s emboldened other survivors to step forward.

    There *is* value, but it comes at the cost of survivors needing extra coping skills and self-care while the most sensational aspects of the case seem to be in our faces at every turn.

    Take care,


    • CimmerianInk says:

      You have valid points Sarah. I think it’s just hard for me to think of people being entertained by these details. Even when something is horrible, people still gasp and then keep looking. I don’t want the fact that terrible crimes were commited to be blurred by sensationalism you know?

  3. Hi,

    I don’t know. I think there is value in sharing some details about what has happened, as it does help to highlight the damage and reality of abuse. But, I do think that there is too much detail being shared. It jeopardises the chance of a “fair trial” for Sandusky, therefore setting up an appeal, and the full details can horrify people to the point where they don’t want to believe it; let alone believe that it could happen to them, or their children.

    I’m all for awareness, but I do worry about the number of jokes I’ve seen about the abuse within the different news stories. Would those jokes be there if the details weren’t there? Would the story have lastest as long, and sold as many newspapers if those details hadn’t been there?

    I still think it comes back to the victims… did they agree to this? Did they have a choice?

    Take care,

    • CimmerianInk says:

      CG you hit on several points that I had also been thinking about. I hadn’t thought about the “fair trial” issue but you bring up a good point.

      I think the reason it’s such a big story, or should I say maybe why it’s still big, is because the media is adding all these details. It just feels wrong. I agree with you and Sarah that there is some value in people knowing that this is a big deal, but the graphic details in, not only this story but other recent ones, cannot be for the good of the public. It’s about getting traffic to their site or people reading their papers. And what matters even more is you last point: what about the victims???

      I can’t imagine that anyone talked to them about what they were going to write beforehand and I can’t even imagine what it woud feel like to be labeled “Victim 1” or “Victim 6” and then have those horrific details recounted everywhere.

      It’s not right.

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