By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Several of Jerry Sandusky’s alleged victims are expected to testify at Tuesday’s preliminary hearing. A local psychology expert offers insight on the emotional issues the victims could experience on the witness stand.
“The emotional pain of sexual abuse is very difficult to put into words,” explains Dr. Sue Cornbluth, psychology professor at Temple University. “When something of this magnitude happens to you, you tend not to forget.'”
Cornbluth, who has worked with hundreds of children who have suffered sexual abuse, says victims commonly experience sweating, trembling and severe anxiety while testifying.
“They will probably suffer from such symptoms as flashbacks to when the abuse occurred, which may freeze them from speaking. They may have a fear of looking at Sandusky because it may trigger horrific memories such as body sensations. They may even have panic attacks,” she said.
Male victims have even a tougher time testifying according to Cornbluth.
“In society, men are raised to be strong. Often times males that are abused by other males blame themselves and say, ‘I should have been stronger, I should have fought him off,'” she said.
She says many sexual abuse victims never make it to trial because they cannot bear to endure the emotional and physical turmoil it takes to face their abuser.