By guest blogger and clergy sex abuse survivor Vicky
On Monday night, November 7th, 2011, I had the great privilege of telling my story to members of Our Mother of Consolation Church in Chestnut Hill. There were four of us on the panel. The first speaker described her struggle to understand the current problems with in the church based on her education in religious studies. The second speaker detailed her personal friendships with two priests who were subsequently found guilty of sexual abuse toward children. Her tale of betrayal and deep sense of loss had given her a unique view into the charismatic qualities that seduce and deceive victims and the public. The third speaker was a counselor who treats sexual abuse survivors.
I was the last speaker. Unlike those who preceded me, I chose to stand and deliver my 10 minute abuse summary. My speech included comments asking for support to change the statute of limitations, to open up a window to file law suits, and to go beyond thinking that this is only a problem that impacts the Catholic Church. Feeling an inner rage at the church for its impending assault on justice for all victims, I held up Monday’s edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer which headlined Penn State’s mishandling and cover-up of a head coach’s sexual abuse of young boys that spans several decades. As I waved the paper in the air and punctuated my comments with great emphasis, my message was clear: All children must be kept safe and it is the responsibility of all adults to make sure this happens.
During the questions and answer part of this program, several audience members used words such as “epidemic” and “pandemic.” They, too, see that the real problem goes beyond anything having to do with the Church and for the Church to stand in the way of protecting and honoring the children of today and the children of yesterday, is nothing short of insensitivity, self-serving and even criminally complicate.
As I said in my speech, I now have a voice and in using my voice, I continue to find pockets of people who want to hear what I have to say. While I was a bit disappointed in the small number of attendees, I was extremely pleased with their support and receptivity.
While I would love to speak to a much larger crowd, I accept this small beginning and hope that other small pockets of people hold similar meetings so that eventually, those small, courageous pockets become a crowd that roars for justice, transparency, truth and honesty.
A week before, I was honored to meet with 3 couples from St. Jerome’s Parish in the Northeast. This parish has been especially hit hard with the scandal. As I told my story and interacted with these brave souls, my host and hostess made me feel safe and warm and welcomed in their home. Again a small pocket, a, beginning.
This past Monday, the meeting was held in the rectory. It is a testimony to my recovery, that I was able to walk into the building, since some of the most horrendous abuse I endured was done in a rectory! As I write this I chuckle (again because of my recovery I can chuckle) as I no longer have any fear of such places or of the “authorities” who once abused me. I have my power back. I am no longer that scared kid, but an empowered adult. However, a more neutral place would be better as most survivors would probably have run for the hills if they were required to step back into the world where they experienced abuse.
My appreciation goes to my new-found friends from St. Jerome’s and the committee from Our Mother of Consolation who had the courage to open this topic up for a grass roots discussion. This was my opportunity to see that in denying and mishandling the sexual abuse cases over the decades, the Church has not only caused great pain and suffering for me, it has also left generations of people who now wander lost from their spiritual connection. From something that once was their oasis and connection to hope, there is now only the barrenness of the desert, with no clear pathway or direction.
In Solidarity, Vicky
19 thoughts on “Sex Abuse Survivor Speaks at Our Mother of Consolation”
Thank you for this Vicky!
I attended the meeting and was so proud of Vicky. She spoke calmly about her own abuse and passionately for the protection of children. She wants legislation that better protects children and provides justice for victims. How can we deny these measures to adult survivors of child sex abuse,whether that abuse was at the hands of parent,teacher,coach,clergy etc…
Vicky in her own pain, recognizes the confusion and fear that the laity feels at this time. She amazes me with her compassion towards others. I am so proud of you Vicky!
As a parent and a disillusioned Catholic, I wholeheartedly thank you, Vicki.
Thank you so much for your Christian courage and charity, Vicky. You are a true inspiration to many of us at this critical time when we embark on bold actions. You remind us by your example that you and other victims are the true Church. In the face of evil disguised in clerical garb, you can stand with the real Jesus and help us all protect innocent children. We can now following your bold example confidently press forward to expell the evil clerical culture that has led to the destruction of too many innocents. Abuse no more and true justice and real respect for all victims shall be our goals and motto.
Thank you so much, Vicky. You have survived. Your have used your pain to help others and that is brave and honorable. Thank you for showing that the agony of your abuse has not killed your generous sprit.
Who are these people who dare to harm our children; who are these people who hide the sins of the abusers? They are nothing, they are nobody and the time has come to sweep the temple clean…
I really appreciate what you are doing. I’m a survivor of sexual abuse by a local Catholic school teacher. Predators in these institutions have all the advantage. Thank you Vicky for you work,and don’t think that your audience is small, because you have a lot of people reading your blog and sharing your work. Thank you very much.
Janice I am happy you were able to read Vicky’s post and share your thoughts as a survivor Hopefully people sharing their experiences and journeys will make others feel less alone. Kathy
Please know Vicky that many of us are thankful for your recovery and inspired by your bravery.
Vicky what you did was wonderful! And oh so needed.
My prayer is that there will be more and more ‘pockets’ of people…who will hear you!
I’m reminded of that adage…to never underestimate what a small group of very dedicated folks can do to change the world. Vicky, you are clearly in that group, so is the Holy Spirit!
You are so tough. I love you.
When you add the small group of people to the number of people who read your posts on this blog, your are reaching a huge number of people!
So very thankful for your courage and work on behalf of all victims. You are truly an inspiration.
I’m so thankful for your courage to speak, your passion to protect, and your compassion to walk with the rest of us through this mess as well.
What an honor to know you through this site.
Vicky, I echo everyone else’s thoughts here when I say thank you for sharing your story, for your courage, your commitment, and tenacity. I have learned so much from reading about your story, as well as those of survivor’s wife, Gerald, and others. I am honored to have met you – if only virtually – and others on this site. God bless you… and all the victims, survivors, and families.
I just want to say that I realize their are victims and victim’s family members who follow the C4c site. We are not holding Vicky up as an example of what victims should be doing. I don’t like to speak for people and I am sure Vicky will also comment,but her journey has been over many years and much hard work to have her at the place where she is able to participate in this type of meeting.Vicky would be the first to say she understands why some would have no interest in such a meeting or even fathom being able to stand in front of a parish group and share their experience.This is the place Vicky finds herself at present,people need to do what is best for them.
I agree healiing is a personal journey and everyone has their own unique personalities.
From Vicky to all:
Thank you to everyone who has responded to my post in such a positive and supportive way. Quite frankly, I have been overwhelmed but in the very best of ways. Your words have touched my heart and created even more healing within me.
I especially want to thank Kathy Kane for her acknowledgment that in spite of my own pain and suffering I understand and empathize with those in the pews. That empathy comes out of my own early struggle as a survivor. Well before I admitted my history of sexual abuse, I was a dedicated lay person in my church. I sang in the choir, I assisted catholic teachers as an aid in the school, I headed the hot lunch program and was a lector in two catholic parishes. In order to face the horrors of my abuse, I first had to face all the illusions I held. Everything I believed in was shattered, leaving me with out a church, with a blank image of God, and no community. I know what it’s like to end up lost, alone and empty-to wander in a spiritual waste land. And then, I had to face the abuse.
I have been working on my abuse for many, many years, and I am proud and relieved to be where I am today. Please know that survivors are not all in the same place. Please be patient and compassionate with their woundedness. Some will present anger, some a torrent of tears, and some with a cold distance. What you will see are their coping skills-the only way they know how to survive.
Last Saturday when I looked out over the Penn State crowd all wearing blue in support of the survivors, I thought, “how is it no one in the church, an institution that is supposed to be known for its compassion, has never displayed such support for the thousands of its victims who struggle every day?”
Thus, I propose the following challenge. On December 25th, 2011, we celebrate the birth of Christ, the coming into the world an infant. To add to that celebration, let’s get the word out that on December 25th 2011 everyone whether they are attending church or merely celebrating in their homes, wear blue in support of sex abuse victims everywhere.
Sometimes I ponder if as a boy, Christ had been sexually abused/raped by his rabbi would the world have missed out on the many spiritual blessings He brought to us, and then I wonder, how much goodness could these victims have brought to the world if they had been protected and nurtured?
So, again, I say to you all, thank you for such amazing support. You are helping to heal my wounded heart. THINK BLUE!! Vicky
Vicky, your comments are unbelievably lovely, and gracious.
You are a huge help to us.
My prayer is that lots of folks in the pew will read this! And begin to understand what it means to survive abuse with grace!
And I will wear blue on Christmas day!
Thanks so much, Vicky, for your charity and courage. Blue it is on Christmas Day, a wonderful idea!