SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) – The Family and Children’s Center serves thousands of children and families throughout St. Joseph County every year. Their goal is to build strong families and healthy children.
On Thursday, Matthew Sandusky, a victim of child sex abuse at the hands of his adoptive father, Jerry Sandusky, shared his story of resilience, hope and recovery at South Bend’s Century Center.
“We just want to make sure you have a stable foundation to grow upon and learn more so that you can help yourself and your children as well,” Family and Children Center family support specialist Asya Williams said.
Matthew, the founder and executive director of the Peaceful Hearts Foundation, was a victim of childhood sexual abuse from the age of 8 to 17 at the hands of his adoptive father.
Since then, Jerry Sandusky has been convicted of rape and child sex abuse and will spend the rest of his life in prison.
As for Matthew, he has been using his traumatic personal experience to help turn victims of sexual abuse intro survivors.
“There are so many resources out here in South Bend that a lot of families don’t know. They can have child care, they can have food pantries, diapers or anything else that they are need of, and we are here to provide it,” Williams said.
Angie Marciniak said she witnessed a good friend of hers being sexually abused when she was younger and said listening to stories like Matthew‘s reminds her how uncommon sexual abuse is.
“It is not something that is uncommon. It is probably much more prevalent than what we know,” Marciniak said. “Take notice, pay attention and do something.”
The money raised from the event will go directly toward building strong, healthy families within Family and Children Center programs.