‘Sometimes I just want to scream’
Dan lives with his wife and four young boys, which means he’s constantly reminded of what happened to him at Ohio State between 1988 and ’91.
Dan said, “Somebody is always talking about Strauss and every time something new comes up that whole level of anxiety inside me just starts coming up, too. It's frightening, actually.”
And sometimes it’s just plain maddening.
“I was at a neighbor's house this past summer for a barbecue and one of the guys brought it up,” Dan said. “He was basically making fun of the men who are part of the lawsuits. He said, ‘So, what are you supposed to do? Take a doll and say the doctor touched me here?’ Everyone giggled and laughed, and I looked at my wife – she saw it on my face – I wanted to punch the guy right in the mouth. Nobody understands it and it’s hard to make them understand.”
He added that living the Strauss case in real time is like being on a perpetual roller coaster ride.
“I have now been on Prozac for the last six, seven months, just to keep my anxiety at bay,” he said. “My wife's been very worried.”
That’s why his wife says the last three years have been especially difficult for her family.
“Dan holds a lot in,” she said. “That's just the way he is, so it's really difficult for him to process all of this. His irritability spectrum is definitely heightened now and it's getting worse because there's no end in sight. Also, there’s a lot of uncertainty – is he going to have to talk to Ohio State again? He's definitely put himself out in the public eye because he feels this issue is so important. But it has come at a price and, for Dan, the price is being down and depressed. It's tough.”
His wife added that Dan feels “hurt” by the university’s response to the Strauss scandal, while Dan says he feels angry.
“You know, sometimes I just want to scream,” he said “We want to finish this. I mean, I don't understand what the problem is – everybody knows what happened and yet no one is willing to step up and say, ‘OK, we're going to take care of you guys.’ That’s all we’re asking.”
He went on to say that trustees’ perceptions may be part of the problem.
“I think they look at us as grown men but 30 years ago we were young adults just out of high school. Many of us came from small towns,” he said. “I came from a small town in central Illinois and came to a university that’s bigger than my hometown. And they put us in a meat grinder of a situation, where we were constantly subjected to perversion and sexual abuse, and nobody wanted to do anything about it. Everybody knew about it, but nobody wanted to do anything about it.”
Dan is also troubled by the fact that his parents rebuffed him when he tried to tell them what happened at Ohio State all those years ago.
“I just want my parents to ask me how it’s impacted me but they won’t,” he said ruefully.
‘It’s just been us as a family’
Dan was an OSU wrestler at the same time that Mike Schyck wrestled, so the two have been friends for more than 30 years. Their friendship has proved indispensable to Dan, his wife said.
“Fortunately, he and Mike are really good friends and they're able to kind of lean on one another. But for the most part it's just been us as a family, dealing with it for the last three years,” she said.
And there’s the rub: Even though Dan hopes speaking out will help move the Strauss cases toward a resolution, the act of speaking out “kind of scrapes the scab off and the wounds resurface all over again,” his wife said.
Dan wants members of the board of trustees to address a couple of questions.
“What if this had happened to your child? Would you still be sitting here sitting on your hands with nothing to say or would you expect and demand action,” he asked. “I would love for them to answer that question.”
He’s not alone: Most victims are asking the same thing and are bewildered by the university’s lack of action, especially in light of the recently-released 2019 OSU crime report.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, OSU has received 2,400 reports of crimes committed by Strauss against students during his 20-year tenure.
The report also says that rapes, stalking, and dating and domestic violence cases were up in 2019, lending credence to the Strauss victims’ demands that the university take steps to ensure current students are protected from dangerous predators.