Photo by The Brit_2
At least that appears to be what the current investigation into the current Denver Bronco defensive lineman appears to be, from reports in the media.
While we are a far way from having any proof, or even a criminal charge, the description being reported certainly sounds familiar to anyone who has spent time looking into the facts about the sexual abuse of children, including the perpetrator being close to, or part of, the victims family, being in a position of respect within the family and the community, and convincing the victim of the “specialness” of their relationship and need for secrecy.
If this is true, it’s another black eye for the NFL in the wake of domestic violence and child abuse charges involving the physical abuse of girlfriends/wives and children. It will be interesting to see if as much media attention is focused on this case, as there isn’t a video to get upset about, and I do believe the media in general, and sports media in particular, are wholly unprepared to deal with sexual abuse as a topic. I fear it will either be sensationalized, due to the sexual aspect, or ignored, because of a squeamish audience. Neither of those would be a good thing.
The fact is, that statistically speaking, it’s estimated that anywhere from 10% of all children, to 1 in 4 girls, and 1 in 6 boys, are victims of sexual abuse. We would be foolish to think that any institution is immune to this. Certainly, I’ve read stories of professional athletes who have overcome abusive situations, including sexual abuse. We should not be surprised that there might be a few abusers in a group as large as this as well. We shouldn’t shy away from talking about it because it makes us squeamish. We should talk about it so that other victims and survivors know that they are not alone, and they are taken seriously.
I do know something about this. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse myself.
If the investigation results in finding that Smith did, in fact, commit sexual abuse, I can only hope for two things:
1. That justice is served for his victim, and that they can be provided the help they need to overcome this.
2. That the media, and the NFL, can use this to promote awareness of childhood sexual abuse, of children of all genders, and to promote the resources that are available to both aid in the prevention of this tragedy, and also help survivors lead happy, successful lives despite of this trauma.
No one deserves to be the victim of a pedophile, but as long as we are out here, we also need to make it clear that being sexually abused as a child is not a life sentence as well.
Now, let’s see where this investigation goes, and what the NFL does in response.