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Dr. Drew: ‘Victims identify with victimizer’

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Dr. Drew: ‘Victims identify with victimizer’

Earlier this month, former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with 40 counts of sexually abusing children.

On Monday night, Dr. Drew talked with Diena Thompson, whose daughter was murdered by a sex offender, and Peter Pelullo, a victim of child sexual abuse, who founded an organization that is working with a number of Sandusky's alleged victims.

“I saw five different psychologists to help me through the process of re-wiring my brain,” Pelullo told Dr. Drew. “I think that’s what the young men are going through to a certain degree. I don’t even think they know the full impact of the damage that was done. That’s clearly understood, to some degree, by them stating they felt sorry that coming forward could have caused the breakdown of this football program or even the loss of Joe Paterno’s job.”

Dr. Drew reacted strongly to Pelullo’s statement.

“Yes, victims identify with the victimizer," he said. “That is one of the reasons they don’t speak up. They don’t want to hurt them. They don’t want to feel guilty. They feel they’re responsible. It is what creates some of the pathology that develops later on.”

Pelullo said he entered recovery at age 55 and was informed then that he had the emotional stability of a 7-year-old child.

“I think that’s what happens when a child is sexually violated,” he said. “The brain immediately stops growing on the emotional side ... more than likely they (the victims) probably will have already developed certain ticks and addictions to survive life itself … there is only hope if they get the kind of trauma therapy that they need.”

Dr. Drew agreed, but noted it takes time and resources.

Diena Thompson added that the strength and courage that the alleged victims showed by coming forward may have helped save another child’s future, but Dr. Drew pointed out how difficult that can be.

“The victims, themselves, invariably feel responsible for what happens to them, and even if they don’t feel like they were somehow part of the process, they feel deeply ashamed and very guilty and are terrorized about stepping forward … it’s more than what people think it is,” he said.

Hear more from Dr. Drew weeknights on HLN at 9 p.m. ET and follow the show on Twitter @DrDrewHLN.

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