The adopted son of Jerry Sandusky recalled Friday the moment he told his father he would refuse to testify as a defense witness at the former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach's 2012 child sex-abuse trial.
Then 33, Matt Sandusky said, he drove to his father's home, asked his mother to leave the room, and said something out loud that he had never fully acknowledged to himself.
"I told him, 'You can't call me to testify. I remember things,' " he said. "All he said was, 'It wasn't sexual.' "
That exchange two years ago began his very public reckoning with the sexual abuse he says he endured for years - abuse he described Friday to child advocates at a conference hosted by the Philadelphia Children's Alliance.
Within days of refusing to testify on his father's behalf, he shared his story with state prosecutors and offered to testify against his father.
The tapes of his conversation, however, were leaked, and Matt Sandusky found himself at the center of a media frenzy - all while struggling to come to terms for the first time with experiences he had blocked out for years.
"I learned from a very young age that as a man, you don't complain, you don't cry," he said. "You suck it up. You deal with it. You keep going."
Jerry Sandusky, who is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence at the Greene state prison, denies abusing his son and has not been charged with any crimes related to him. The former coach's wife, Dottie, has described her adopted son as mentally ill, a liar, and a thief.
On Friday, Matt Sandusky spoke with a confidence he said he would have been unable to muster even two years ago.
In many ways, the story he told mirrored those of the nine young accusers who testified at Jerry Sandusky's trial. Matt Sandusky, too, was young when he met Jerry Sandusky, his future father, at a youth camp connected with the former coach's charity, the Second Mile. He was 7, and he soon found himself invited to Penn State football games and on out-of-town trips. But those gifts came with a price, he said he soon learned.
Much, though, has changed since his outing as one of his father's accusers.
In the last year, Matt Sandusky has become more able to discuss his abuse, first in a nationally televised interview this summer with Oprah Winfrey and more recently at events like Friday's conference. In February, he and his wife started the Peaceful Hearts Foundation, which they hope to build into an information clearinghouse for sexual abuse survivors.
He still lives in State College, he said, and encounters people daily who doubt his story. He said he has learned to block them out.
"It's funny to go to a restaurant now with friends, and they want to talk all quietly about my child sex abuse," he said. "I'm speaking loudly. I want to talk about it now. We all need to talk about it."