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Jerry Sandusky's son shares how to spot abuse

Posted: 5:44 PM, Apr 26, 2017
Updated: 2017-05-03 10:16:57-04

CARMEL, Ind. -- Matthew Sandusky, one of former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky’s adopted sons, shared his story at a child advocacy center in Carmel on Wednesday. 

Sandusky was invited to speak at Chaucie's Place as part of National Child Abuse Prevention month. 

After speaking in front of the crowd of 400, Sandusky sat down with Call 6 Investigates Kara Kenney to give parents tips on how to spot abuse. 

Matthew Sandusky said he endured child sexual abuse at the hands of his adoptive father Jerry Sandusky from the age of 8 until he attempted suicide at the age of 17.

"The number one thing is if you feel it in your gut, listen to your gut,” said Matthew Sandusky. ”Do something about it. Look into it. Don't just brush it off."

He said the number one thing is for parents to pay attention to changes in their child's behavior. 

“If they go to younger child behaviors, or if they start using sexually explicit language that’s not appropriate for their age,” said Matthew Sandusky. “Those are all signs.”

Jerry Sandusky is serving a 30-60 year prison sentence following his 2012 conviction for 45 counts of child sex abuse.

Matthew Sandusky came forward to police during the trial saying he too was sexually abused by Jerry Sandusky.

Jerry Sandusky has not been criminally charged with abusing Matthew, and his mother Dottie has denied any knowledge of abuse.

"For my adopted mother to walk in and see us laying on the floor in basically me in underwear and him rubbing my back, and for her to think whatever she thought I don't know,” said Matthew Sandusky. “For that not to be something she stepped in for and said that's not OK, we can't have that."

Central Indiana has had an increasing number of coaches and teachers accused of inappropriate relationships with students. 

RELATED | Former IPS counselor accused of sex with students avoids jail time

Matthew said parents need to be proactive about keeping their kids safe.

“We can’t have adults in one-on-one situations with children unsupervised anymore,” said Matthew Sandusky. “We need to push for that and make sure it's not happening."

Matthew Sandusky said perpetrators don’t just groom children; they groom the community into trusting them.

He said if a child comes to you saying they’ve been abused, do not overreact or show a lot of emotion.

“Definitely let the child know that you believe them, that it wasn't their fault, that they are cared for, that they are loved and supported and that you're going to be there for them to get them help and get them through this,” said Matthew Sandusky.

Matthew Sandusky launched the Peaceful Hearts Foundation, a non-profit aimed at helping child abuse victims.

According to the Foundation, an estimated 60% of perpetrators are known to the victim’s family, 30% are family members, and just 10% of perpetrators are complete strangers to the child.