Rather than an artistic performance or speech, Eisenhower Auditorium will house a community dialogue regarding surviving child sexual abuse at 7 p.m. Sunday.
The event is titled “Moving Forward: A Public Conversation on Surviving Child Sexual Abuse ” and will involve a panel of experts in the field. This event is a free portion of the Penn State’s Child Sexual Abuse Conference. The formal conference will be held at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel on Oct. 29 and 30.
Sunday’s panel will be moderated by Cindy Christian . Christian is a child sex abuse expert and director of Safe Place: The Center for Child Protection and Health within The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia .
The remaining panelists will include child sexual abuse survivors Margaret Hoelzer and Louise Williams Bishop . Hoelzer is a two-time Olympic winning swimmer and National Children's Advocacy Center spokeswoman. Bishop is also an advocate and representative within the 192nd Legislative District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Christopher Anderson , executive director of the organization MaleSurvivor , will also take part in the panel.
The event is free to the public with tickets available at the HUB-Robeson Center , Eisenhower Auditorium, Bryce Jordan Center and the Penn State Downtown Theater Center .
To Hoelzer, the conference is especially important.
“I was a victim of child sexual abuse as a child and the [National Children’s] Advocacy Center helped me,” Hoelzer said. She later said she chose to be a spokesperson for the center as a way to give back to those who helped her.
Two main points she will focus on during the panel will revolve around the concept of getting help and not letting being abused determine someone’s life.
“People shouldn’t be doing this alone. They need to get help, ” Hoelzer said. “I am a victim and an Olympian. You can go on to achieve your goals, whatever they may be.”
Hoelzer later said she hopes the event will be positive and eye-opening for audience members as they will be presented with a wealth of perspectives. While similarities exist among all survivors, she said that there are differences in the experiences of someone who experienced child sexual abuse at age 5 or 12 or has been connected to the topic in another sense.
A question and answer portion will follow the panel, allowing dialogue about child sexual abuse to occur with audience members.
Some Penn State students, such as Tricia Martino , are intrigued by the event but believe it may be overdue.
“I guess it would have been better [to have the event] before the scandal but now Penn State has to do something to make up for it,” Martino (sophomore-criminology and political science) said. “It’s a good thing we’re doing something to rebuild.”
Martino also said, “[Child Sexual abuse is] definitely something important to Penn State now so spreading awareness, making it known that Penn State cares, [is important].”
Students Min Ji Lee and Ally Hwang also spoke of the panel’s importance.
“I think it’s good to let people know [child sexual abuse] is a problem, that it should be fixed,” Lee (freshman-business) said.
Hwang (freshman-division of undergraduate studies) also said the issue is prevalent and important.
“I think it’s important for people to know the truth and not sugar-coat it,” Hwang said. “It’s not just that it happened in our school, child sexual abuse is a worldwide issue.”