To many, they've been faceless, nameless for months -- their stories summed up under headlines of "Victim 1," "Victim 3" and so on in pages upon pages of court documents. Less than a year after their accounts were first made public, those who said they were abused by Jerry Sandusky will tell their own stories in a public setting for the first time in the coming weeks.
After months of anonymity, their identities will no longer be shielded -- and some, like Victim Advocate Coordinator for NOVA Kim Foster, are worried that this lack of protection could lead to feelings of re-victimization.
"Think before publishing names,” Foster said. “That's the best we can do at this point. It’s all about respect. We don't want to have victims re-victimized in public over and over and over again.”
Once the males take to the witness stand in court, Foster said it opens up the possibility that their neighbors, friends or relatives may discover their connection to the case, putting them in a position to be asked to retell their stories and defend themselves again and again.
On Monday, before Tuesday's jury selection proceedings begin, Senior Judge John Cleland denied requests to remain anonymous from five of the males who said Sandusky abused them.
This brings up another issue in Foster's eyes, as she worries that some covering the trial or attending it as members of the public might not respect the privacy of those testifying and could release their names publicly.
Vice President of Communication for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape Kristin Houser said she is disappointed with Cleland’s ruling, but she hopes the press will respect the privacy of the people testifying Sandusky by protecting their identities in their coverage.
Outside of implications in news coverage and the effect it might have on those involved in this case, Houser said she is also concerned that the ruling will deter others from coming forward and telling authorities if they have been sexually assaulted, for fear of their identities being made public.
Based on her 20 years of experience working with people who were sexually assaulted, Houser said it's likely that those who are preparing to testify against Sandusky are most likely feeling a range of emotions in the days leading up to the trial.
Each person deals with testifying in this type of trial differently, she said, but some might be nervous or anxious for the upcoming legal proceedings.
Meg Garbin, Director of the National Crime Victims Law Institute, said some may find the experience of testifying traumatic, but others might find it empowering.
Outside of emotions associated with delivering their testimonies, Foster said those who say they were abused by Sandusky may be nervous about attending court in general.
“Court can be a scary place for almost everyone,” Foster said.
She said that many people in this situation have “anxiety of the unknown” since no one can tell them exactly how long they will be on the stand or what questions they will be asked. She said this sometimes leads to feelings of helplessness or powerlessness.
Foster's organization, which is based out of Berks County, usually takes people who have to testify in court about sexual assault on a tour of the courtroom to take away some of their fear and to create a more familiar setting.
Garbin also said this type of trial does not only affect those that were allegedly abused, but also affects their families and other loved ones.
She said that sometimes if a person hears about trauma experienced by a loved one, they also can sometimes experience difficulty dealing emotionally. She said that the families of those involved in these types of cases must also take care of themselves and have “safe places” to talk about what they hear for months and years to come.
“Victimization has a ripple effect on entire families,” Garbin said.