Stillwater Abuse Survivor Says Penn State Scandal Shines Much Needed Spotlight On Issue

Wednesday, November 9th 2011, 6:27 pm
By: News On 6

The Penn State case has victims of sexual abuse speaking out across the country. They hope the tragedy helps other victims come forward.

A Stillwater man has been following the news out Penn State with a different perspective than most people; he's a survivor of sexual abuse.

"I think I want people to remember it was silence that caused this abuse to happen," said Jarrod Noftsger, sexual abuse survivor.

He was first assaulted as an 8-year-old by two neighbors, then again as a teenager by a youth minister and knows exactly what the victims in Pennsylvania are going through.

"They're feeling a lot of shame and would like for this to go away," he said.

Noftsger now volunteers with the Child Advocacy Center in Payne County. He says it took a tremendous amount of bravery for the victims at Penn State to come forward.

"A lot of empathy just knowing a lot of what they're feeling, what they're going through and then, not to mention, a lot of anger for the system that allowed that to happen to these kids. It could have been stopped a lot sooner," Noftsger said.

One of the issues surrounding legendary football coach Joe Paterno is did he do everything he could to stop the abuse.

In Oklahoma, the law is very simple: anyone who suspects a child is being abused, even if you didn't actually witness it, is required to contact authorities.

"If you have reason to believe that a child is being harmed or is in harm's way you are required to call the Department of Human Services," said Brandi White of the Child Advocacy Center.

Noftsger says the Penn State victims will make it through if they get support and counseling. He says it's important for parents, teachers, everyone to who hears similar allegations to take the child seriously.

"First and foremost, believe them. For them to have the courage and the bravery to come forward and say what happened to them, they have to be believed," Noftsger said.

If you suspect a child is being abused, the law requires you contact the state. The child abuse hotline is 1-800-522-3511.