Sandusky urges sexual assault victims to speak their truth

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - For months the spotlight has been given to a topic many people don't feel very comfortable talking about, sexual assault.

The #MeToo movement is showing just how widespread the problem really is and how important it is to have organizations available to help victims.

A famous survivor traveled to Sioux Falls to show his support at the Compass Center’s annual fundraiser.
Several years ago, Matthew Sandusky's abuse was shoved into the spotlight after his adopted father, Jerry Sandusky, was tried for sexually assaulting several boys.

He was the keynote speaker at the Compass Center’s fundraiser Monday night and talked about the power of one person making a difference.
“I knew that I didn't like it, and I knew that it didn't feel good to me, but I thought that it was just something that he was allowed to do, and he could do,” Matthew Sandusky said.

Sandusky is sharing his story across the country, around the world, and even in Sioux Falls as he continues to open up about abuse suffered at the hands of his adopted father Jerry Sandusky.

“Anywhere I can go to lend my voice, lend my name recognition, support an organization doing great work to help survivors, that's where I go and that's why I’m here,” Sandusky said.

He's supporting the Compass Center in Sioux Falls

“Sexual assault and domestic violence is happening here in the Sioux Empire and it’s something that needs to get addressed,” Compass Center Executive Director Michelle Markgraf said.

The organization offers free services to survivors like Tara Powell.

“He'd grab me so hard that I’d have handprint bruises on my arms,” Powell said.

She's a domestic abuse survivor.

“The Compass Center has been vital in my healing process,” she said.

The theme of the fundraiser was the ‘power of one’.
Sandusky says no matter how painful or scary it may seem, survivors have the power to speak their truth.

“The only thing I will ever tell a survivor to do is you have to speak it,” Sandusky said. “It was the hardest thing that I have ever done. Not only for myself, but for my family, my wife, my children, but it has been the biggest blessing that has ever come to me, myself and my family.”

He says people in the community also have the power the help break the cycle of sexual violence.

“I want them to be empowered and motivated to leave this venue tonight, to go back out into their communities tomorrow, and to make difference in the lives of survivors,” he said.

Markgraf says she wanted Sandusky to speak at the event to show that anyone can be an abuser and it's important to believe victims when they come forward.

Another takeaway from Sandusky’s story?
Sexual violence doesn't just happen to women.
The Compass Center serves 600 people a year on average and between 10 to 15% of their clients are men.