Understanding Child Sex Abuse – Straight from Survivors


Created for the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse, this production featured interviews with adult survivors of child sexual abuse. Six individuals, sitting alone in a room, spoke frankly and emotionally to our interviewer, telling their stories in graphic detail. These memories, some from as many as sixty years before, but still fresh in the survivors’ minds, were the only narrative.

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26 Responses to “Understanding Child Sex Abuse – Straight from Survivors”

  1. I want to wrap my arms around every one of them and thank them for sharing their story.

    Then I want to wrap my hands around the neck of every perpetrator that did this to them.

    May we be able to wrap our legislative hands around the necks of the pedophiles (and enablers) who have done this to the the most vulnerable.

    Powerful video.

  2. You are survivors. You are heroic and brave. There are most likely millions more victims worldwide (yes , I said millions).
    I am so sorry for what you endured. None of this filth should ever have happened. If one decent priest/bishop/nun etc. had reported this to law enforcement.
    What type of institution protects the rapist/molester and not the innocent child victims?

    • John, your “millions” is probably not far off, especially when you factor in the ripple effects on victims’ families. The experts at the Vatican’s recently staged child sexual abuse summit reported over 100,000 victims in the US alone, and this is a grossly “underreported” crime.

      We are only beginning to get the statistics from Asia, Africa and Latin America.

      Forget the statistics, though, Each victim is an individual person who suffers because of undeterred pedophile priests who are protected by their cowardly and reckless bishops

    • Public school systems, police departments, judiciaries, Episcopalian and Protestant churches, synagogues, families, and the Catholic Church.

      • Mary, no one would dispute the breadth of abusers, but C4C deals with church related abuse, and institutional cover up primarily. See top of page for Church related categories.

      • It happens everywhere – mostly in families. But its systematic cover up by the Catholic Church seems to be worse given the latest evidence. The Catholic Church should be on the forefront of prevention.

      • Mary I agree with you but I don’t want someone getting abused by a neighbor or family member to go to the church for help and get abused by the priest they sought help from. Many of these priest predators targeted kids having trouble at home, single homes etc. I needed my catholic faith to fight a predator and it was there when I needed it. I want everyone to be helped by the church not harmed. Abuse anywhere is life shattering the coverup in the church needs alot of light shed on it that is why we are here. I love my faith…..I want the church to clean up its leadership so they deal with issues rather than conceal them.

  3. Very special thanks to those who told their story!

  4. I want to thank Kathy Kane for mentioning on several occasions, that what I write on this blog is the result of years of on-
    going therapy; however, I want to take this opportunity to share with all of you the struggle that I’m currently facing.
    Years ago when I dreamed of the possibility of the church or someone from the church being held accountable for their crimes, I could only imagine that I would feel joy. It is unsettling to me to discover that the current case against Lynn and the other priests sometimes causes emotional chaos and the dizzying sense of being unbalanced, mentally and emotionally, as I struggle to read through the various daily accounts of this up coming trial.
    Years of therapy could NOT and did NOT prepare me for the realty of seeing my wish come true. With each new detail I am thrown back into my own memories and the pain and anger-ok, blantant rage-arise. There is a surprising sadness that arises with each validation I get when I see how the church continues to deny, cover-up, and manipulate, especially with distain and arrogance for everyone who simply wants to know the truth. It is heartbreaking for me to see conscientious catholics joining us survivors, in a level of pain for which the church is accountable because of its continued denial and stonewalling. Dear Survivors, we are no longer ALONE. Those who understand us have the courage to embrace their pain in questioning their faith and in questioning those who were supposed to be their spiritual leaders.
    Some days the rage and pain that i feel blind me to possible goodness and kindness that exists simply because I cannot trust. With each new “secret” that is disclosed about the church, I lose my perspective and my balance. Through my long journey I had come to a place of balance. I could hear stories of other survivors, I could reach out to other victims, and I could process the emotions that arose in me and still keep my balance. I got to a point where I was strong enough to fight the evil and strong enough to embrace kindness, compassion and love when it came my way. Right now it is difficult to embrace compassion, and for now, this is my loss. These may be old wounds but they are old wounds with a twist, and I am having to learn how to enlarge my perspective, put things aside that I don’t need to deal with, and to remember its not personal{while it all FEELS very personal}, and hang tight and grow with my new found spirituality.
    After years of being ignored and silenced by the church-by those who rightly should have wanted to listen to me-I am profoundly grateful to have found this arena of brave, compassionate people who listen and “get” my story and the impact it has had on my life. Beyond that, you also get that my story reflects the stories of many survivors, so your compassion flows onto them as well.
    I know the next several months will be difficult as old memories are triggered and new revelations are exposed, but it helps me to see that this is part of my journey, and whilt it is not easy, as I journey, as I have in the past I will continue to learn and heal, FIRM in my belief that the Divine will guide me and protect me, especially when I become unbalanced. Because of the tools that I have: my therapy, my fellow survivors, my friends and many of you on this blog-I REFUSE to go back into that closet that I stayed in as a child writhing in pain. I instead, as those of us have learned, I will reach my hand out for help and to help. Together we can all make it.
    I will be attending the 1st Friday vigil, march 2nd.
    In solidarity, Vicky

    • Vicky, “rage” is good and understandable. Jesus showed rage at the money changers who violated His Father’s house. How much more is rage warranted when one of Jesus’ “own” violates one directly. As the Lynn trial roller-coaster moves forward, sit back and let those of us you have moved to action deal with Bevil’s Devils. Whether or not we hear from you on any given day, we know you are always with us.

      Step away whenever it suits you; you have already paid too much already. Try to focus on the half-full glass of young Catholic children who will not face your horrible experience because you courageously stood up and called out “evil” by its true name.

      We will eventually fill the whole glass, I am sure of that. It will take time , but we will get there–no doubt about it.

      Thanks for your continuing courage and witness.

      • Wow. Who couldn’t be in awe of this kind of courage?! They could have just stayed silent, but instead they’ve bravely entrusted us with their stories–and their pain.
        It’s vital that survivors know that their accounts have been heard, and understood, and will be present in our hearts and minds as we all see this thing through together.

    • Vicky,
      For what it’s worth I am with you in spirit.
      May God bless you in your courageous journey.

      • JOHN AND lAURA, Your worth to me is pure spirit. I embrace it and thank you. Laura, my intent is always to help those of you who really want to know what we as survivors are struggling with every day. We hurt, every day yet I am able to take in the love I feel when I read all your posts. You all are really helping us to heal. I need to simplify. It is called spirit. Someone once said, “Pray to God but row to shore.” My soul is restless and will keep me restless until I am fulfilled. Spirituality is whatever you take to be your ultimate concern. My spiritual attitude is found at the point of conviction where I define the values in my experience that are worth living and risking for. God, leads me.

    • Vicky… I have so much in my heart after reading your post. Let me simply say thank you for continuing to share your journey so that we may understand. Know that my prayers are with you and other survivors.

    • I have so much respect for you Vicky. I don’t know if there’s any more I could add than that.

      I wish I was going to be at the March 2nd vigil.

      I’ll be there in spirit.

    • Vicky, I am a ‘fellow traveler’ on this horror, not a victim or a survivor but one of those ‘concerned others’, who hates the abuse and wants to help!

      But, boy have you been special. I have learned so much from you and other victims and survivors on C4C….that tells me very specifically, exactly why I want to help!

      Your very sensitive post, with all the ‘twists and turns’ you are now experiencing in this Lynn trial, is so bloody honest, so important and so compelling….that in itself, it is the ultimate testimony.

      It is not lost on me that C4C is now averaging 2000 hits a day…and my hope and prayer as it was a few days ago, for you, is that you will find some peace in the midst of this issue….my OTHER, updated, hope and prayer is that folks who are reading this blog will really ‘get it’ and learn from you. Thank you so much. Joan

    • Vicky
      I join the others in admiration of your strength and courage. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

    • Vicky your voice is so necessary for change……………thankyou……….you and all our survivors are in my prayers and have and will contnue to influence my actions in many ways.Peace.

  5. Thank you for sharing your pain and in that sharing know that you have given us all the great gift of knowledge. The trial of Lynn and his fellows will be very painful for all RCC people because we must face the sins of our members. Were it not for your sharing, those of us who have not been physically abused would never know the power of the sins committed agains you and so many like you. We would never know the reality of the way our priests have behaved–and have been allowed to continue behaving.

    Please God those people contentedly sitting in the pews and believing that this scandal has nothing to do with them will learn that the RCC is an impure organization desperately in need of the grace of recognizing and accepting its failures. When each parish is willing to open its books to the whole world and demand the same of every other parish and of their diocese, when each parish is willing to demand and publicize the records of all of their priests and administrators, then we will begin the true healing that openess will bring.

  6. How courageous the victims, and, thank you for sharing these stories. Horrible, abhorrent, disgusting to name a few. To listen to these brave victims and wonder how could they possible keep this stuff inside all their lives. I commend the victims, and promise to pray for them daily. I also leave the victims with this, my favorite line of the Psalms > “Kindness and truth shall meet; Justice and peace shall kiss; Truth shall spring out of the earth; and Justice shall look down from Heaven.”

  7. Vicky – I am a survivor of a relationship with one of the priest predators named in the 1st Grand Jury Report- Nick Cudemo. The horror that I feel is knowing what this man did to other young girls at the same time that he was “grooming” me. His abuse of me was more psychological than physical but none the less it was abusive…Your words on this blog have given me much hope that the healing has begun for all of us in very personal ways. I truly believe that the Holy Spirit is working through C4C and groups like this to allow us a voice to fight for justice for all of our souls that have been harmed physically and emotionally. Thank you. The struggle is hard but you are a leader for us all. Peace to you.

    • Jane, I had to take some time before I responded to you. Reading your post I could not stop my tears. Being a survivor, we identify with another’s pain on such a deep level. We know how you felt and pretty much what you went through. This is why we have such passion to stop this onslaught of innocent children. Thank you for your kind words to me, I carry them in my heart. I want so much to give survivors hope. The deck of cards are falling. Truth will prevail. We need each other and the support of people who are willing to stand with us in this truth. For me, Truth translates to Justice. We will, win. Truth is on our side. Stay strong my friend.

  8. Jane ,thank you for sharing. Having read all about Nick Cudemo in the report, it is sickening the access this man had to children for so many years. I am comforted to hear that Vicky’s brave words on C4C have provided help to you and I am sure so many others. At this pojnt given all we know ,it really is up to the laity and survivors to journey together down the path for any type of truth and healing.

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