Will the Penn State scandal shed light on sexual abuse?

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by TONYA MOSLEY / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on November 11, 2011 at 6:46 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 11 at 7:01 PM

SEATTLE -- Mark Fredson remembers the day he took his first grade class photo.

"It was so hard to smile and yet I did," he recalls.

It's the photo Fredson held up on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" last year when he revealed a secret he'd held onto his entire life. "I was sexually abused by my grandfather from the ages of two to the age of six,"  he said.

The Penn State scandal brings up a lot of memories for Fredson. He understands the denial, because he's lived it.

"I think because of how it strikes people, it so quickly passes through people," said Fredson. "It's the most powerful denial that exists."

Psychologist Dan Singer said as much as people are angered by the Penn State case, it may just be the beginning of a breakthrough.

"I liken this scandal to the incident where Magic Johnson reported he had AIDS," said Singer. "Everybody here has a coach so this has hit us hard. It's like it's in our backyard and now we all feel it."

Fredson is no longer a victim, he's now an advocate. But as he looks at the photo of himself as a boy, he wishes someone had been an advocate for him. "Yeah, he went through a lot. So part of what I do now is try to bring him back, because he got left behind a long time ago, by a lot of people."

Since the Penn State story came to light, the sexual abuse counseling center Shephard's Therapy has seen a spike in the number of people seeking help. For more information log on to their website: http://www.shepherdstherapy.org/

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