Sharing a Story of Abuse
Radio personality Dan Scott spoke out against sexual abuse in a very public way.
Just before noon last Thursday, Dan Scott's voice, colored with its ever-present subtle West Virginia accent, painted a picture.
It was Scott doing what he does best.
As a radio man, the 44-year-old Scott tells stories and talks for a living. It's a craft he's honed for years, the last 11 of which he's spent in the Upstate.
Over the last several weeks, the raging debate over the scandal involving child abuse at Penn State, and even more recently similar allegations at The Citadel, has provided plenty of fodder for Scott and his listeners.
Scott, who is the play-by-play voice of the Furman Paladins, is perhaps even more widely known for his daily sports radio show on 104.9 FM The Drive in Clemson.
Scott's voice remained steady Nov. 17 as he related a story to his listening audience in the midst of a broader discussion over the moral obligation to report abuse. It was the story of a child.
A child growing up in the 1970's, he said, had what most would consider a happy childhood. He enjoyed a close relationship with his parents, as well as his grandmother, who lived some five miles away from him.
The boy would often spend time at his grandmother's house, and when he did, it wasn't usual for him to take to the outdoors and the nearby woods to play, Scott said. The child was nine years old, and what should have been idyllic days of childhood adventure and mischief turned into days of confusion and fear. A group of older boys preyed upon the child.
"When this young man would visit over a period of — I don't know — a few months, and would go out to play, these older boys would come, and they would get him, and they would take him to a secluded area, and they would sexually assault him," Scott said last week, on air.
It wasn't until another boy, not associated with the group, caught wind of the sexual abuse and told his parents that the assaults in the woods stopped, Scott said.
The victim, Scott concluded, was able to overcome the trauma of those days in the woods near the West Virginia-Kentucky border, later raising a family of his own, and forging a successful career, Scott said.
That career was as a radio man.
"The young man that I'm speaking of is speaking to you now, telling you this story," Scott said. "I am victim of sexual molestation and sexual abuse from when I was nine or 10 years old."
Scott, a father of two daughters and respected journalist, had only made the revelation to his family the night before. It was an issue he'd long since dealt with, but never broached with those he loved.
But when the allegations of rampant abuse at Penn State surfaced, something bubbled up inside Scott.
"I don't know why — I have no way of explaining it — for some reason the Penn State story just kind of triggered something, and then when I interviewed Gene Sapakoff from the Charleston Post and Courier about the Skip Reville story, that just drove it home," Scott said.
"I had been thinking about it prior to my conversation on my show with Gene. In fact, Furman played a basketball game in New York City on Monday of last week, and I drove to New York and back. That entire trip was basically spent hashing out whether or not it was something I wanted to do."
And just before noon last Thursday, Scott, sensing an opportunity to provide hope and support for others who had experienced or were still experienced what he'd gone through in his own childhood, took a leap of faith.
The response was immediate and overwhelming.
"I've been doing this show for almost 11 years, and I know my audience, and I knew when I did this segment I was going to get support. Trust me, there's a comfort in that," Scott said.
"But I didn't dream of the depth of the response that I would get, and what some of those responses would be."
For the next four days, dozens of people contacted Scott, letting them know that they too had suffered from abuse as children.
"I've had I think at least four e-mails or private messages where people have told me that they were victims as children or as teens, and that until they'd written that message, they'd never told anybody," Scott said. "That's when it hits home."
Scott's on-air bombshell was meant to not only embolden and empower victims as they struggle against a culture of fear and intimidation created by their abusers.
It was also meant to give hope.
"You know, there's hope. That's the message," Scott said. "You don't have to live with this hole in your heart or a dark cloud following you around. If you can find the courage to come forward and talk about it, there are people that can help you get over it."
And just as Scott himself was saved from abuse by someone who simply decided he wouldn't stand for it, the radio personality is now encouraging his listening audience to always err on the side of caution.
Better to be wrong and look foolish than to be right about suspicions of abuse and never come forward, Scott believes.
"To me the most important thing is protecting children," he said. "No longer can we be intimidated into not speaking if someone sees something."
Scott makes it clear that he's not traumatized today by what happened in those woods so long ago. He's moved on with his life, and hopes his words may help others do the same.
And of all the support he's received since last Thursday, certain words from certain people reverberate into deeper places. Soon after his announcement, he happened to look a status on his teenage daughter Rebekah's Facebook page.
"Proud to be Dan Scott's daughter," it read.
Scott's segment on his childhood abuse can be found at his show's web site in the top right corner.