Penn State Alums Raise Funds for Victims, Bring Back Pride


Rape and Assault Victims Seek Help Online

The hotline provides one-on-one contact with a trained staff member, who counsels victims on computer safety protocol, safety planning, support and advice for seeking help.

"In some cases, victims have never told anyone before," said Hull. "It's such a sensitive issue, they may not have even been able to say the words out loud yet. We tell them how to start the conversation and tell an adult to get help."

One of the most important messages is: "It's not their fault and they didn't do anything to deserve this," she said. "We also tell them this doesn't have to define you. You can go on and live an incredibly healthy life."

These Penn State alumni who are teaming up with RAINN stand out in sharp contrast to an estimated 5,000 students who rioted on the State College, Pa., campus Wednesday night, protesting the firing of head coach Joe Paterno.

Needel said he understands their anguish about losing their coach, but he is disillusioned. Experts say that is a normal reaction.

"Idealizing people is really a basic human need, to put them on a pedestal, especially in childhood," said Michael Diamond, professor of psychiatry at UCLA, who specializes in male development.

"We make that person all good and we elevate them," he said. "When they come off the pedestal, we see them as a whole person and in that process there is a disappointment and often a reaction against the person."

Americans tend to idealize their heroes, especially in sports, he said.

"It's harder for these football players or guys who are connected to the team to handle the disappointment in a mature way," Diamond said of the student protesters. "But it sounds like [Needel] has a healthy response to deal with his own feelings -- trying to reach out and get money for victims."

Needel, himself, said he was never a football player at Penn State -- "just a guy with a wife and some friends that just got tired of feeling helpless over this."

"I learned that Joe Paterno wasn't perfect 100 percent of the time," he said. "He built a program based on doing the right thing, but clearly some mistakes have been made. This changed my view about him and his legacy."

"Like everyone else in this country," said Needel. "We are learning from his mistakes as well."

If you need help, more information or want to report a crime, contact RAINN's National Sexual Assault Hotline or call 800-656-HOPE (4673).

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