This story is a special from LostLettermen.com, a college football and men's basketball site that regularly contributes to ThePostGame.com.

The Penn State scandal has engulfed the country, making the victims of sexual abuse the focus of more attention.

It has been the work of former Colorado and New Mexico kicker Katie Hnida (pronounced "NYE-duh") to put abuse victims front and center all the time.

A soccer player growing up in Littleton, Colo., Hnida was the first woman to compete in an FBS football game – kicking in the 2002 Las Vegas Bowl – and the first woman to score in an FBS game in August 2003, when she booted two extra points for New Mexico against Texas State-San Marcos after she transferred to Albuquerque.

But before she suited up for the Lobos, Hnida was a sexual abuse victim as a player at Colorado, where she was invited as a walk-on freshman kicker by Rick Neuheisel in 1998.

She described in detail to then-Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly for a February 2004 story how she was abused by Colorado teammates.

[Related: Jerry Sandusky's Book 'Touched' Gets Ripped]

Citing Hnida, Reilly described her plight as a "kind of sexual hell you can't imagine," which allegedly included teammates exposing themselves in the locker room, inappropriately touching and, in one 2000 case, raping her.

"I always thought rape was some guy coming out of some dark alley with a knife," Hnida said in 2010. "So it really kind of left me in a state of shock."

"She endured more abuse than one person should have to bear," former teammate Justin Bates told Reilly.

Hnida also told Reilly that she didn't go to Colorado coach Gary Barnett to complain about the treatment because she was "terrified" to do so because Barnett didn't want her around anyway.

He made that known in 2004 comments to the Denver Post in which he blasted Hnida for her play when the real issue at hand was the abuse that she allegedly endured under his watch.

"It was obvious Katie was not very good," Barnett said, according to the newspaper. "She was awful. You know what guys do? They respect your ability. You can be 90 years old, but if you can go out and play, they'll respect you.

"Katie was not only a girl, she was terrible. OK? There's no other way to say it."

Those comments led to a temporary suspension of Barnett in 2004 and -- coupled with a sex/recruiting scandal and poor play on the field -- ultimately led to his departure from Colorado in 2005.

But that didn't take away the hurt for Hnida, who -- like the alleged victims of Jerry Sandusky -- will have to live with what she endured at Colorado for the rest of her life.

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But Hnida hasn't sit idly by since leaving college football.

Hnida wrote a book in 2006 titled "Still Kicking: My Journey as the First Woman to Play Division One College Football," in which she talks about her college career on the gridiron and the abuse.

Hnida even returned to Boulder in 2008 to speak about her horrific experience on the Buffaloes football team.

[Related: Where Are Colt Brennan And Timmy Chang Now?]

She also works tirelessly to support victims of abuse by sharing her story on college campuses. And Hnida has worked in tandem with organizations like The Joyful Heart Foundation, which works to raise awareness for victims of sexual, domestic and child abuse.

However, Hnida hasn't given up on playing football. Last year, she played for the Fort Wayne Firehawks of the Continental Indoor Football League and also has played for two semi-pro teams, the Colorado Cobras and KC Mustangs.

Hnida, now 30, is listed as living in St. Petersburg, Fla., and is also an active speaker who travels to schools and universities to spread her message and prevent sexual assaults like the one she had to live through.

You would have hoped that Hnida's scandal would have encouraged Penn State assistant Mike McQueary, former head coach Joe Paterno or athletic director Tim Curley to speak up and go to the police after alleged sexual assault by Sandusky against young boys in 2002.

But none did and sadly we are once again in a position where no one stood up for sexual assault victims, lives have been tarnished forever and college football faces one of its darkest hours ever.

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