Dale Hansen on Last Night's Confessional and What He Hopes Parents Learned From It

Categories: Media

If, by some chance, you have not seen Dale Hansen's annual "Thank God for Kids" segment that aired last on Channel 8, it's above. It began making the rounds early this morning, in large part because of what Hansen acknowledged a few minutes into his essay about how children who are the victims of sexual assault "stay hidden in the darkness," obscured by shame -- theirs, perhaps, or maybe their parents'. Said Hansen, everyone knows somebody who's been sexually abused. "Because," he said, "you all know me," at which point he recounted an incident that occurred when he was 10 and a boy who was six years older "had my pants below my knees before he decided to let me go, and I don't know why."

Hansen says he wrote that piece a month ago, when he read it to his wife; she told him it was his best thing he'd ever done, but was "concerned about the topic" and how viewers might react. For the first time in as long as he can remember, he told friends and colleagues to tune in. He told them, "I'm proud of it." But at the last minute, Hansen tells Unfair Park, he was worried: He told producer Sean Hamilton he didn't think it was very good. But he never considered changing it. He read it as he'd written it weeks earlier. He would deal with the response later.

"And the response has been overwhelming," he says. "Flat-ass overwhelming. I thought it would get a good response. I didn't think it would be what it's been." He says he's about halfway through the hundreds of emails he's personally received; the station, he says, has gotten upwards of a thousand more.

"The thing I am happiest about is the real message I was trying to get across was the only victim we don't talk about here are the kids and the shame" that accompanies sexual assault, he says. "Maybe I've started to open the door, and as arrogant as it sounds, I hope it's true. I wanted to say there is no shame here, but at the same time I understand it. This started a couple of months ago, when the Penn State thing started. My buddies were defending [Joe] Paterno for not doing more, and several times I've had people say, 'Well, why wouldn't the kids have told somebody?' And I am sitting there quietly, saying to myself, 'I know why they wouldn't.' And that's what prompted me to finally say, 'OK.'"

He recounts some of the emails he's read so far. One is from a man who writes, "I've kept my secret for 61 years. I'm telling you first and everyone else tomorrow." Another comes from a woman whose daughter was assaulted with she was 8. Years later, the mother writes Hansen, the girl wanted to begin a website called We Have No Shame. The mother wouldn't allow it at the time.

"She wrote, 'I was ashamed, and I felt like I had failed as a parent,'" Hansen says. "The mother said, 'I didn't want my neighbors to know, but now I will tell my daughter we'll start the website.'" Hansen says half the emails he's received today begin with tales of sexual assault at a young age, each one kept a secret till now. I asked if he was prepared for such a reaction.

"God, no, not remotely," he says. "There's the line in the middle of the piece when I said everyone knows a victim because you all know me. When I read it Sean said, 'I''m glad you put it like that, because I don't think I do know anybody.' And I said, 'Sean, I bet you $100 you do.' And now, unfortunately, I am more convinced than ever."

Hansen, though, takes issue with those who would call him "courageous" for his confession late night. He insists it was far from.

"It would have taken courage if it had happened to me last week," he says. "And I don't know if I have that kind of courage. I hope I would, and the point was people should have that courage. But if it happened to me last week ... I don't know. That would would take some ..." He pauses.

Point is, says the sports anchor: He never told his parents what happened. Never told his friends. Never told anyone, except his wife. And it could have been worse. The kid, the son of a transient worker who didn't stick around long, left town soon after the attack. Hansen never saw him again. "It's not like I had to go to school for two years and look at him," he says.

Hansen says he didn't tell his father because the old man wouldn't have understood. Dale was scared to say anything; the old man had a temper, after all. So he kept quiet, and the boy responsible for the assault skipped town without anyone ever knowing. That's what Hansen's always felt guilty about: God knows how many other little boys experienced what 10-year-old Dale did that afternoon on the ball field all because he was too afraid to tell anyone, especially his folks. Which, in the end, Hansen says, was the real point of his piece.

"I know a lot of parents who say, 'And how was your day, Johnny?' and that's it," he says. "I talk to my kids. It's easy. But to cross to the next line to where your kids are not afraid to talk to you? I was scared to death of my dad. I grew up in Mayberry, and every night my mom and dad were there for dinner, and they asked, 'How was school? How was your basketball game? But my dad never once made me feel comfortable about talking to him. He was there every night, but under no circumstances could I tell him something like that. What I was trying to say last night is: Talk to your kid and make sure they're not afraid to talk to you. That's the real issue."

Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
29 comments
Tom
Tom

i just wated to say thank you for your story at the end of this years Thank God For Kids.  You are so right that your story like millions of others have been left untold too many times and for too long.  I heard the crack in your voice and felt the tears in my eyes well up.  I am retired and am privilaged to work with an organization that stands up with kids that are being threatened if they speak out.  As part of our mission we sit in the the court room with the kids when they stand and tell thier stories of horror and pain, so it has been that I have been humbled by the courage of little heros that set an example for what courage can do. 

Thank you for telling your story, it is never too late to bring the world we live in kicking and screaming into the awairness of what has been done to kids for too long and what we have been too silent about.

The organization I work with is B.A.C.A Bikers Against Child Abuse and I incourage every one to be watchful for the signs of abuse and know that there are others who want to put an end to the cycle of abuse by helping victoms become heros and knowing that by standing up we can all work to put an end to child abuse.

Road name Whoops FTW Chapter

Claudia
Claudia

Dale, thank you for sharing your story. It took courage and I hope anyone who watches it takes your words of wisdom to heart and talks to their children. God bless you.

A Home Within
A Home Within

@dalehansen Your courage is inspiring, we hope your words empower others to speak out against sexual abuse of children.

214 Cocksucker Lane
214 Cocksucker Lane

Damn, I can't believe he must have been good-looking at one time. . . It is a known fact that the only reason that you were not molested was because you an ugly child.

Bmarvel
Bmarvel

If you don't pay attention to what Dale says, he comes across as a roaring boy-o, the self-inflated TV jock-jockey who plays well to the sports-bar beer swillers. But over the years when matters of ethics and morality come up -- as they do all to often in sports --  Dale  consistently holds the high ground, reminding viewers that, hey, it's just a game; there are profounder values at stake here. Some folks can't abide the former, some don't like to be reminded of the latter. Too bad. Dale may be the only local sportscaster who takes sports seriously enough to be taken seriously.       

Amy S
Amy S

Sadly, just as the 16 year old boy was probably taught by someone else that the strong preying on the weaker was the "way of the jungle", it's probably not a coincidence that his father was an itinerant worker. One has to wonder.

just sayin'
just sayin'

I think I had one brush with a pedo at a camp near Tyler when I was 11. One counselor watched me take a shower then tried to dry me off. I told him that I could handle that myself. He said "don't be shy, we are all guys, we all look alike". My fifth grade ass told him to "keep your fucking hands of me". I have often wondered how many non alpha male 5th graders that creep ended up toweling off.

Lee
Lee

That took amazing courage to do. Bravo, Dale.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Perhaps we should all be glad this happened to Dale.  Could you imagine if he hadn't been scarred by this event?  Would Dale be More outspoken, a bigger ass than he usually is? 

I'm kidding.  I like Dale, and appreciate his bold positions on race, and many other issues tangential to sports that he brings up.  This took guts to say openly, and I'm glad he did.  Dale, ass that he is, shows that there is more to him than just that. 

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

Like him or not as a sportscaster, father, public figure, but it took guts to talk about that in public, on TV, and subject himself to the comments.  

NONE
NONE

First. Hansen was not sexually abused. He was attacked by a bully. Pulling pants down is not sexual abuse. It is an act of a bully who knows that the most humiliating thing for a smaller boy is to be proven powerless in the face of an attack that will not be reported. The People that "sexually abused" Hansen in this case was his Father, who would have exploded at anyone who ATTACKED MY BOY...not because that is an adult reaction, but because his Father....and the Entire "Mayberry" town was afflicted with the 1950s pattern of belief that "sex is a dirty filthy thing that should be saved for the person you love and marry forever".....Sexual assault that results in ACTUAL sexual contacts is in fact just that....but humiliation acts by a bully....much like the today "horror" of "sexual harassment" in the workplace of women by their male co-workers or bosses....is a figment of Political Correctness and No Boundaries and Agreed upon principles of conduct between men and women.....just as schools today suspend or expell 4 year olds for hugging or kissing another child.....this is NOT sexual abuse or attack...but a CONFUSED and "OUTRAGED" generation of "adults" are off on a misinformed mission of witch hunting where anything they THEY do not understand, becomes a criminal act.

Hansen has gone YEARS without professionally confronting HIS HORROR...but his horror is LESS about the bully and the act, than it is about the HORROR of public exposure that he was VULNERABLE and Compromised in the Village NORM.....and those NORMS included DO NOT TALK ABOUT SEX OR SEXUAL ISSUES PUBLICALLY NO MATTER WHAT....the same thing that once led to shotgun marriage or abortions disguised as "mononucleosis recovery while living with grandma"...

This is a failure at adulthood on a Sports Guy, Dale Hansen....who has been LOCKED up in the male dominated mysterious cult of SPORTSMEN....who cannot face loss of masculine power..no matter what.  That he came forward is a step in HIS OWN HEALING, but only if he takes the responsibility as an adult that NOTHING HAPPENED to violate his body, but a lot happened that violated his youth serenity and safety.....and his victimhood was more a case of community and father oppression, than a clumsy act of a teenage boy who most likely suffered more confusion over HIS OWN sexuality, or lack of power in HIS OWN FAMILY of "transients"....(read, "trailer trash"...small town lingo for "folks not as good as we are and apt to be rotten to the core").

Forgive me for no tears for the Adult Hansen...but I DO WISH HIM WELL in seeking professional help if he is smart enough and convinced enough that ADULTS do not have to remain captives of their childhood anymore....REAL adults today can actually TALK about sexual issues, bullying issues, and their emotional conditions brought about in their individual process of growing up.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

It took alot of guts to admit that. I respect dale much more than I did yesterday, I hope this becomes the open door not just for children and adults here, but nationwide. 

cactusflinthead
cactusflinthead

That took a lot of guts for Dale to do and I am glad he did it. As uncomfortable and disturbing as these conversations might be they are necessary. I hope that if my daughter ever needs to tell me something like this she isn't going to be afraid to do so. My respect for Hansen increased exponentially after I heard it on the Musers today. 

Dave_little
Dave_little

Man, that was tough to listen to. We need more commentaries like that.

Steve
Steve

What the fuck are you talking about?

Jim Bob Guthrie
Jim Bob Guthrie

Was that camp Pine Cove?  I experienced some weird stuff there too.  My camp counselor constantly wanted boys to give him a massage--while alone in the cabin.  I refused, but some boys didn't.

At the time, it seemed weird.  Being an adult now, I realize massages require some strength. Anybody who asks for a massage from a fifth grader should automatically be suspected of being a pedo.  I told my mom, but I don't think anything was done about it. 

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

So, I can tell you don't care for Hansen, which is no big deal, I don't like half  of what he usually says. To let your dislike for him cloud your understanding of a sexual assault is just sad. This type of assault is something that I wouldnt wish upon anyone and if it was your child that this happened to, you'd be whistling a different tune.

kinda confused by this
kinda confused by this

I think you actually make a good point about the communal nature of abuse and cover up, relative to small-town and sports macho idealism.  Ironically, I think that the societal pressure and fear of exposure and vulnerability that you speak of is exactly what Dale was trying to get at.  

It's interesting how your argument implies justification for relativity while simultaneously attacking Dale for his response to his assualt, which is of course relative to the cultural norms he was taught in Mayberry. 

Lee
Lee

Oh man, I just looked at your expanded profile and found this gem of a comment:

"CLOWN SHOW OBAMA....now he is COURTING THE JEWISH VOTERS...so he has a "Hannukah Bash" at the White House, two weeks BEFORE Hannukah, and the SLUB lights all the candles at once so he can get a photo op in front of a mannora .... Has NO CLUE about Jewish celebration....BUT HE CAN DO THE DOOGIE DANCE AND THE ELECTRIC SLIDE WITH ALL THE HIP HOP FOLKS.

VOTE THIS T URD OUT OF THE WHITE HOUSE BEFORE IS BECOMES HOPELESS FOR OUR NATION."

http://campaign2012.washington...

Lee
Lee

This is why so many sexual abuse victims are reluctant about telling others about their abuse.  Because of assholes like you who choose to belittle them and deride it as non-abuse. 

Jim Bob Guthrie
Jim Bob Guthrie

Were you the dude that had Hansen's pants down? Criminals justify their behavior and you certainly seem to know more details than most. 

Dealwithit
Dealwithit

Just because a victim is not sexually penetrated does not mean there is not a sexual assault.  His attack had a sexual tone to it.  I'm with the others here - you need to seek some help for your obvious issues.

Smy2k
Smy2k

I believe he left it at "pulling the pants down" to spare us the details. We don't need the details and they would have overshadowed a very important point that he made.

Kevin Kirby
Kevin Kirby

I've distilled your post to one sentence: "I am an asshole."

Amy S
Amy S

Please don't drink and comment. We'd rather hear NONE of that.

If this had been a 16 year old boy doing this to a 10 year old girl (whether or not sexual contact was made), the boy would have been thrown in jail. Period. If she had not said anything, she would have had the same horror, and memories locked away. Because it happened male-on-male, you seem to discount the aggression and blame it on the sports culture that Dale reports about.

At least he put his name to his expression, unlike you.

feather
feather

You sound like a very bitter person.  Not sure what happened to you in your life, and I don't mean sexual abuse, but your tone is sad to me.  You may need professional help more than Dale.  Resolve your own issues too.  

Amy S
Amy S

You don't think someone influenced him to behave this way? That he just came up with this idea out of the blue? And that in some way the itinerant lifestyle is likely a part of this? Either because during their hardscrabble life the boy had been victimized, or the boy repeatedly had exhibited this behavior in previous towns, or because the father wanted to isolate the family from somebody finding out what the hell was going on within the family. That's what the fuck I'm talking about. However if you disagree, I'm ready to hear something a little more debatable than your previous response.

just sayin'
just sayin'

It wasnt Pine Cove. Shit man, I don't think I am ever going to let a son of mine go to a camp of any kind. Unless its a baseball camp and I meet everyone first.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

"If this had been a 16 year old boy doing this to a 10 year old girl (whether or not sexual contact was made), the boy would have been thrown in jail. Period."

Sad to say I am not so sure that is the case Amy.

https://records.txdps.state.tx...

Put the zip code were you live in the search area.

Lots Pervs who fit your example are on probation and out in our neighborhoods.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...