Sen. Scott Brown Talks About Childhood Sexual Abuse

Sen. Scott Brown claims sexual abuse by camp counselor. Why come out now?

ByABC News
February 16, 2011, 5:10 PM

Feb. 17, 2011— -- In a stunning revelation, Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., told CBS' "60 Minutes" that a camp counselor sexually abused him numerous times when Brown was a child.

During the interview, which airs Sunday, Brown said the counselor threatened Brown with violence if he told anyone about the abuse.

"He said, 'If you tell anybody, I'll kill you. I will make sure that no one believes you,'" Brown said.

Brown, who details the abuse in his book, "Against All Odds," said he hadn't told his mother about it. He also told ABC News' Barbara Walters that he endured physical abuse at the hands of his stepfathers.

"I do remember getting up in the middle of the night and, you know, having to be the man of the family and come and rescue her and getting knocked around pretty good," he said.

Brown isn't the only public figure whose sexual abuse has become public knowledge. Baseball legend Mickey Mantle went public with abuse he suffered from a babysitter. In 2009, actress Mackenzie Phillips said she had had an incestuous with her father, John Phillips, best known as the co-founder of the Mamas and the Papas.

Experts said going public about sexual abuse can become a double-edged sword. In some cases, it can help victims overcome shame and free themselves of a heavy burden. It can also help them heal relationships with their loved ones who didn't abuse them. In some cases, they can mend relationships with the perpetrators.

"Sexual abuse is typically a secret, and it's that secrecy that perpetrates the problem," said Nadine Kaslow, a professor and vice chair of the Emory University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. "Being open and honest can free people up to heal, and has the potential to help people and relationships recover."

Eugene Brooks is one victim who knows the power of speaking out. Now 47, Brooks said he was sexually abused by his older brother, starting when he was 9 years old.

"I told my mother, and she didn't believe me, and she wanted everything to be OK. Nothing really ever happened with it," Brooks said.