I ask this question to survivors on behalf of survivors struggling with healing. I know that healing is ongoing, but what has helped you cope and heal so far? What has hurt or slowed your healing process?
I ask this question to survivors on behalf of survivors struggling with healing. I know that healing is ongoing, but what has helped you cope and heal so far? What has hurt or slowed your healing process?
105 thoughts on “A Question for Survivors…”
I don’t even know why, but when I first read this post, I felt a pain inside. I guess it was at having to look back. What helped me, first and foremost, was counseling. Finding a good counselor who is trained in this area, (especially back in the 90’s, when I really began my journey), is like finding a needle in a hay stack. I was lucky. I’ve heard horror stories of charlatans furthering the abuse through their unscrupulous means or incompetence.
Confronting those who abused you is extremely painful but necessary. It has to be done in as constructive and protective, (of self) as possible. Many times, sadly, the victim is met with denial and attempts to re-shame and blame. It’s a sickening process, which is why it’s important to have strong support(s) in place, supports such as close friends, counselors, and other survivors, just to name a few. Sometimes the denial and blame from former abusers can send one into a tail-spin, it certainly did me. However, I continued with counseling, and held close to those who supported me.
No matter what, I know my truth and my truth does not depend on whether or not my abusers accept or acknowledge their actions. Only by knowing and accepting my truth, through the love of family and friends, and through prayer did I come to the one bridge that needed to be crossed in order for me to truly find and hold onto the powerful gift of healing. That bridge that needed to be crossed was forgiveness. I have forgiven my abusers, whether they have forgiven themselves or not. I’ve also forgiven myself for years of self-blame and self-abuse via the escapes of …take your pick.
I have learned through time to love and be loved. One thing that I hold onto with great pride is that, despite what was done to me, I have NEVER done that, nor could I ever do to another, the horror that was done to me. For me this has been a great consolation and gift. I know I’m not yet done my journey, but hopefully, it helps someone on theirs. You have my prayers and best wishes for peace.
I for one , never knew you were a victim Jerry.
amazed, There are two Jerry’s on the site
amazed, don’t really know where you’re coming from. I’ll just leave it at that.
Amazed, I was never a victim but have learned so much from the other Jerry, Vicky, and many other victims who have survived and shared so generously their stories with us. They are an inspiration to us all and I thank them all for their courage and grace.
Jerry, Thank you for sharing and blessings for your journey. So much of this rings true for me as well. I’d struggled for so long with forgiveness, being unable to make this unilateral on my part since my abuser had been in denial. But holding onto the anger and pain was eating me up inside and perpetuating the abuse. So forgive him I have.
I am 82 years old. I was abused first when I was 10 or 11 years old. I spent most of my life trying to find out what was wrong with me. The priest that abused me was later made a bishop. I stood at the foot of his grave and foregave him. My school days were a disater. I ended up with a grade 8. I spent so much time thinking of taking my own life and often wondered if I would get through the day. To attend a church service would make me very angry. That went on for years and I could not understand why. I met with 3 different bishops and requested a public apoligy. No money involved, They did not answer me. I am still hopeful that I will get the Monkey of my back.
I just want you to know that you are truly a hero to me. You’ve articulated everything of the pain we’ve been through, but I couldn’t at the time of my writing.
“I spent so much time thinking of taking my own life and often wondered if I would get through the day.” My biggest fear, honestly, from grade 1 -12, was that I would lose my mind.
Sadly, I think that in one way or another, the monkey will always be on our backs. Somehow, my dear hero, TOGETHER, we learn how to live with it.
Thank you so much for your words of loving wisdom and courage.
I am sorry that you suffered your abuse and that you had to watch your abuser rise up in the heirarchy. It must have taken considerable courage to confront this in that era, before grand jury reports and public outcry and Boston. You are a hero in my book as well. I am hopeful that you receive the healing that you need and that you are successful in getting the monkey off your back.
Thank you JAMES @ 15. iT IS GREAT TO HAVE A CHANCE TO EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS WITH PEOPLE WHO KNOW WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT.. I TAKE PILLS TO ALLOW ME TO FUNCTION.SOMEWHAT NORMALY. tHANK YOU AGAIN.
Leo I think you are terriffic!.At 82 and blogging on line. I know people with masters degrees that are afraid to touch a computer. Its quite sad really. You are a wonderful writer. Keep up the good work of healing, as God loves you so much!
Thankyou for your courage in sharing your story. I was very touched by it. I wish for a day when people value their children more and treat them as they should be…… children of God. I will pray that God brings blessings and healing into your life. Peace.
The million dollar question. The fact you are willing to ask means you have already done more to help survivors than every bishop in the country and the pope. For example, if chaput was a good person don’t you think the first thing he should have done this morning was call that brave nun who testified yesterday? Not to offer sympathy but to thank her for doing the right thing, ask her what she needs to feel better, and to share his outrage at what she and her family have gone through. (And he ought to do that at the nicest restaurant he can afford.)
Unfortunetly, there is no magic cure or set path for any survivor. We are an incredibly diverse group, with different needs and life experiences. Liberal, conservitive, churchgoers, atheists, men, women, healthy, addicted. I heard the comparison once that rounding up survivors is like trying to herd cats.
I think Jerry is right that it all starts with a good counselor. Therapists are better trained than ever to deal with this issue, with the caveat being it is still up to the individual patient to find someone and a plan that works best for them. I started with a christian based therapist, decided that wasn’t my problem, and switched to someone who better addressed what I was dealing with.
Most programs start with some form of acknowledging the trauma of your childhood and mourning for the life that child will never have. The hardest part is then to deal with the effects of the abuse. To change the things you can ( addiction, lack of trust, overeating, controlling anger and rage, depression, ptsd, etc.) and accept the things you can’t. It is what it is. For me, it is accepting the fact I will always be a guy who views the glass half-empty, but I have learned to be grateful for every drop in glass.
I was eleven when I was raped by the parish priest, a long time ago. I came forward in 2002 because of the national scandal and could no longer remain silent. In Maryland there is no statute of limitations on any felony and the priest was investigated, arrested, convicted, and sent to jail. Thirty five years after the crime. That process is extremely stressfull, but I sat in a courtroom and saw the handcuffs put on and the priest led away. That was the beginning of my healing. To know that I was believed, helped hold a serial predator accountable, and helped protect other kids is still overwhelming. This is what I’m hoping for all the victims in Lynn and Brennan’s trial.
Now, the million dollar answer to your million dollar question. The most important thing to my coping and finding meaning in this sordid mess is truth and accountability. That is why this trial is so important. Whether there are any guilty verdicts doesn’t matter that much to me. (Though I’m hoping) Truth has been told. Every time a document is entered into evidence, a survivors testimony is heard, and the archdiocese’s gross negligence is exposed the truth is revealed. My anger and disgust at hierarchy is not my problem. It is a righteous anger.
That was the long answer, the short answer is HAPPY PILLS!
David ,very powerful and so true.
“To know that I was believed, helped hold a serial predator accountable, and helped protect other kids is still overwhelming. This is what I’m hoping for all the victims in Lynn and Brennan’s trial “
Susan, I’d hoped to get a discussion going on this very topic. Speaking for myself alone I think the most healing thing has been the ability to tell my story, which peaked with my recent trip to Philadelphia. Testifying was an incredibly powerful experience for me and is something that way too few survivors get a chance to experience. As time has passed I realize that most of the power and energy that I’d been giving over to avery, lynn and the AD in keeping this facet of my life in it’s safe compartment is once again at my disposal. If for no other reason than this I believe the current bills re. the SOL are so important. The abuse has been such a black hole at the center of my life that as I move into a different phase of healing I start to realize the heavy toll it’s taken. There are the personal costs (emotional stuffing, not caring for my body, self medicating and on and on) but more troubling has been the cost in relationships that have suffered due to the 800 lb gorilla in the corner of my room. I have 5 wonderful children who are my world and with whom I’ve lost so much time due to wrestling with this demon. Fortunately there is still time to heal.
What helps me cope is the community I’ve been building around me who get this issue and have been supportive along the journey. I’m no longer surprised (sadly) when I share my story with someone close to me that didn’t know my past and they tell me about their own rape or abuse that they’ve “never told anyone about before now”. It strikes me how many wounded people walk among us on their own healing journeys. And that sadly we feel we need to hide our wounds from one another to get along in this world. I think it is so important and healing to take the time to truly listen to the person suffering in front of us, to respect their suffering with our attention and compassion.
Then there’s spirituality, which will remain a hot button issue until the end of time. I remain in the catholic fold but it has nothing to do with the actions of the hierarchy which have been tone deaf at best and criminal at worst. I believe in a God that is behind and at the center of all we experience. I want to be connected to that transcendent reality, don’t we all. The problem we have are the human beings who have been erecting toll booths along the path to spiritual enlightenment, who have been fighting wars to promote their particular brand of religious practice. Probably the most trans formative spiritual experience I had was in a sweat lodge ceremony, I was able to see myself not only as part of one human family but connected with all of creation as well. It was, as all genuine spiritual experiences are, free from an economic standpoint. I try to meditate but the chatter in my mind makes this a frustrating practice. I find the writings of Richard Rohr to be inspiring and welcome his daily missives in my inbox. You can subscribe here http://www.cacradicalgrace.org/richard-rohr/dailymeditations
I love Jesus Christ and the example of his humanity, his compassion and empathy toward others. He ministered to those at the margins, those suffering. His teachings were about the need for sacrifice and simplicity “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” the need for compassion “the Parable of the Good Samaratain”. How did we get from that message to where we are now. Would Jesus have worn Prada on the way to Calvary?
What helps me to heal has been the realization and reaffirmation that I am not defined by my abuse. I had some brief counseling back in the mid 90s but no professional therapy since. I have been going to ALANON since alcohol was a factor for my abuser. This has been beneficial for me as well. I’ve thought about EMDR and other techniques to help process the emotions brought up by trial but will probably just schedule a sweat. I am interested in what others have found useful as well.
Lastly, it is important for me not to attach my emotional health to things over which I have no control. For example the outcome of this trial, that is for the jury. I take considerable comfort in the fact that no matter what the outcome, there is a community here who get it and are willing to listen to my ramblings. I appreciate you all more than you can imagine.
Bob “James” Fisher
Sorry about the length Susan but you did ask.
You have know idea how healing your “ramblings” are. Thank You.
First, what helped me was discovering that I was not the only one to whom this had happened. I was not abused by a priest, but by a vowed, religious sister. I was a young sister myself, and she was my superior. I had been indoctrinated in my formation that the superior is God’s representative on earth, that God speaks through her, that we were to blindly obey her in all things without question. So, imagine my horror when the superior began coming into my bedroom to get her sexual needs met using my body!! Long story short, eventually I asked to go to a treatment center for just sisters and priests, and there discovered that many other women had been sexually abused by another sister – usually the superior. That was when my healing began. Recently, many years after the abuse, I finally found a wonderful spiritual director who has helped me tremendously. He is a wise man and seems to ask all the right questions and help me find answers.
Thank You so much for your powerful insights. So many times I find myself mistakenly thinking that “this only happens between men.” You’ve helped me re-realize that it’s a sinful, horrid, human condition, not a gender-specific nightmare. You will be with me in thoughts and prayers tomorrow, and for many days to follow.
I’m glad that you are here. You are not alone and are in my thoughts and prayers. It was a bittersweet discovery in finding I wasn’t the sole victim of my abuser. I didn’t want this to have ever happened to anyone else but did feel less isolated when I found that it had. I am happy that you have found someone to help you on your healing path.
Are you going to heal me over the net? Are you the Dr. Phil of the movement? Freud helped create “the Talking cure” But you know I don’t think rape is something that can be “fixed” easily. The reason victims are compensated is to try and bring the victim back to where he or she was before the abuse. If this ,God forbid, happened to your child.. How much compensation would you suggest?
jim, there is no compensation. I hope you find whatever you’re looking for. no judgement.
Jim, Not one survivor here mentioned any easy fix. Because I’m not a therapist, I reached out to survivors here on behalf of other survivors. Kathy and I believe victims should be compensated for therapy. I’m not sure why you would think otherwise.
No one here has ever said”rape is something that can be “fixed” easily” I have heard it is a lifelong process many times with 2 steps forward 4 steps back. No amount of money can compensate for “soul murder’. My husband put his offender in jail and he will still never be the same as before the abuse but he did regain a sense of balance .
I don’t think the point of this blog is to provide web based therapy, I think though that there is some healing in the sharing that occurs here. I agree that the abuse is not something that can be fixed easily, but have a hard time with coming up with a dollar figure that would “make me whole”. I am most interested in feeling as good and at peace as I can each day and look toward the inspiration of the community here in sharing what has worked for them. I wish you peace and healing on your own journey.
There isn’t enough gold on the planet, nor in outer space Jim to compensate what I endured as a little boy. I wasn’t back then and I’m not now, nor will I ever be FOR SALE!
What inner beauty I have witnessed on this site…………………..
Thank you Susan, for asking this very important question. It is not asked nearly enough..
I don’t know why…It’s Friday night, after a long, emotional week, my best friend/wife just said: “I’m deleriously tired. I need to go to bed.” And here I am…waiting for another post! What’s wrong with me? Another truth, she has no idea I’ve been on this blog. Maybe it should be just for me…maybe she thinks I’m on porn!?? Holy @#$%! I think maybe I’ll let her see our site. I would probably help us a lot.
Thanks so very much, Susan, Kathy, and all of my Brothers and Sisters on this incredible blog.
I’d done the marlborough man thing for years as far as my wife is concerned, I came to realize that by not sharing this part of myself I was only preventing a deeper intimacy from taking hold in our relationship. She’s gotten a much better appreciation of what survivorship is like after reading this blog. Of course that appreciation hasn’t translated into a shorter honey do list…
😀 LOL. “maybe she thinks I’m on porn!?? Holy @#$%! I think maybe I’ll let her see our site. I would probably help us a lot.”I hide the site for a different reason. Family is so “Catholic” they would put me to scorn for even reading the site.
I know that I cannot feel the pain suffered by victims of sexual abuse. I can share though, to a lesser degree, their shock and disbelief, anger, denial, grief, loss, betrayal, rejection, isolation, distrust, etc. During the period of my membership in a Lay-Catholic Order, I was spiritually, mentally, psychologically, emotionally, and financially abused. The indoctrination process included absolute obedience to the superiors of the lay-council, who told us they were ‘in place of God himself’. During the vocational discernment process (to determine if God was calling us to this order), the superiors were hyper-vigilant for signs of ‘spiritual and emotional maturity’, before the indoctrination had taken hold. Formation-periods were extended if this occurred and spiritual growth was stunted, particularly if the so-called superiors had not attained that level. The lay-community were often given ‘spiritual talks’ on nourishing the ‘vocation’ through humility, obedience, generosity (cash preferable). The lay-council used our contributions to buy gifts for their superiors (priests and nuns) in order to cement the alliance between these two levels i.e. the general membership paid to be abused. This tiny lay-community, situated in one city, is part of a larger global community, with lay-communities in villages, towns, and cities all over the world, with its head-quarters in Rome. Being spiritually inclined, I trustingly immersed myself in this spirituality, while I was gradually giving-up ‘my will, my mind, and my memory’ to these human-gods. I was able to experience this at a grass-root level and began to see this lay-community as a microcosm of the RCC Institution, along with its vices of power, status, corruption, pride, envy, greed, wrath, lies etc. In fact, the same cardinal sins that we, as the laity, were warned against.
WHAT HAS HELPED ME COPE AND HEAL SO FAR?
1) Writing letters to all levels of the lay-order, because ‘the truth will set me free.’
2) The camaraderie with others who have been hurt by their church.
3) The support of family, friends, co-workers, others.
4) Reading and writing on this blog. My gratitude to Susan, Kathy and the participants.
5) Researching the child sexual-abuse crisis online. God Bless the global community.
6) Hoping that victims will receive justice during these trials.
7) Bringing awareness to the issue of child sexual-abuse.
8) The manner in which the Irish Government handled the sexual-abuse issue.
9) The courage to hold onto my catholic spirituality, independent of the RCC Institution. Also, I do not need human-gods to discern if I have a vocation to a religious-order.
WHAT HAS HURT OR SLOWED YOUR HEALING PROCESS?
1) The mob-mentality of the lay-community. The apathy of the on-lookers.
2) No response to my letters … I had no voice… no one listened.
3) The hierarchical structure of the RCC Institution and its treatment of women.
4) The poor treatment of good priests and nuns who speak-up for justice.
5) The RCC neglects victims and protects perpetrators … their double-talk.
6) The limited media-coverage of the trials. Is money talking?
7) Does the prosecution have enough witnesses from among the good priests and nuns.
I BELIEVE THE VICTIMS
As Donald Trump might say: I LOVED THAT POST.Particularly the following quotes: During the period of my membership in a Lay-Catholic Order, I was spiritually, mentally, psychologically, emotionally, and financially abused The indoctrination process included absolute obedience to the superiors of the lay-council, who told us they were ‘in place of God himself’while I was gradually giving-up ‘my will, my mind, and my memory’ to these human-gods.”
I thought as I read: Some Catholics in the pews, and some apologists say small “sects” are “cults.” I ask– if the little store-front crowds can coerce, influence, and intimidate their victims/members, how much more, much more can a world-wide, billion member, wealthy organization like the Roman church slip it to them? Go figure on that one.
Stated, “I ask– if the little store-front crowds can coerce, influence, and intimidate their victims/members, how much more, much more can a world-wide, billion member, wealthy organization like the Roman church slip it to them?”
The answerer is, A LOT MORE! The leadership of the RCC has been slipping it to us (literally and figuratively) for a very long time.
Once they had my complete trust, support, and service (I now despise most of them.) It took me a long time to come around to the truth, because I so wanted to believe!
From my own experience I have some understanding and empathy for the Pew Potato. Whey so want to believe that they can’t let go. They’re frightened!
They have turned over the destiny of their eternal souls to immoral, unethical criminal clerics. They believe that they can’t get to Heaven without the direction of some perverted prelate.
Sure, they have been brainwash in a cult-like fashion, and that’s not something that’s easily reversed.
God will get you in to Heaven, not some creepy freaky prelate with a magic hat. But, if we keep trying, we may be able to get some of these criminals (fake holy men) into a prison where no hats are allowed.
Drwho13 posted in part:”Once they had my complete trust, support, and service (I now despise most of them.) It took me a long time to come around to the truth, because I so wanted to believe!”
That made me think: When we start to see the truth, we don’t enjoy knowing some nice people,even loved ones, are “under the spell” as it were. Troubling for sure!
Speaking Out, I don’t feel like your excellent and to the point post has gotten the attention it deserves. I “bump it up” for further attention from the members here. It appears you have been abused as much, if not physically, mentally as anyone. Bless you.
Well it’s 3:15 AM here so I’d better close the laptop, but before I do I just wanted to share part of my afternoon. I was on a house call with one of my patients who is in the late stages of cancer and we were talking about the difficulty he was having sleeping. When I asked him why he told me he was thinking about the military situation in Syria and the world economy and a myriad of things over which he has no control. We are bombarded by information constantly much of which doesn’t affect us directly, makes us feel stressed and describes situations beyond our control. I suggested he limit his intake and while off topic for this thread offer the same advice for all of us.
I read today in the NY Times of how the orthodox Jewish community deals with abuse allegations in its community. Thank heavens the mayor of NYC is speaking out against that community’s tradition of speaking first to a rabbi before going to the police. Our nation values religious freedom, and separation of church and state. However, abuse of chldren and vulnerable adults is a CRIME, in any religion!! Thank God the civil authorities in NYC are speaking up for children to the powerful rabbis.
What does this have to do with healing: knowing that we are not alone. We know that the RCC is not the only powerful organization that will cover up sin and shame. This gives me hope that humans will and must learn to value the weakest among us and that the civil laws will expose the evils in all religions and will ultimately focus on the protection of all children. Laws rpotecting children and all vulnerable people have been a long time in coming and have a long way to go…
I have been thinking about these questions for a couple of days now. When I first called the Oblates of Saint Francis De Sales hoping to speak to the provincial supervisor, James Greenfield, I was first transferred to a secretary, a couple of different priests until I was finally given the number of the Victims’ Assistance Coordinator. Having gotten nowhere with the VAC and feeling like an entire week was wasted by constantly calling this woman and waiting for her to call me back, I decided to call the Oblates again, but this time I demanded to speak to the provincial supervisor. Finally, I got the man on the phone. After awhile of questions and several lies like “I’ll get back to you on that,” I threw out the fact that I am the nephew of the late NY Cardinal John O’Connor and if someone doesn’t call me back with answers then the next call I’d be making would be to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Finally, the Oblates relented and I was given approval to seek out a therapist of my own desire and they would cover the costs. However, going back to all those phone calls, one thing that always bothers me and really sticks out to this day is the fact that not one person; priest, secretary, or VAC asked me, “How are you? Are you safe right now? How can we help?” I guess they just didn’t care. I guess the only reason they didn’t block my phone number entirely is because they have to follow through on certain aspects of their child protection program. I just wish someone would’ve had the heart to ask me how I was feeling. I doubt I would’ve given away much information back at that time anyway, but I think it would’ve started me off on an entirely different level. Maybe I would’ve actually believed someone cared.
Since I always felt like the Catholic Church has always been against me, and against all of us victims, it was all too easy to figure out that they never really cared at all. Their child protection program is mere window-dressing for the parishioners who think the church has got a grip on the crimes “of the past.” I don’t know how much their lack of sympathy for me hurt, but it sure didn’t help much either. Normally when I tell people I was abused as a boy, they always seem saddened and I think everyone has always said, “I’m sorry that happened to you.” Until my lawsuit was settled in Delaware last year, nobody ever apologized. There was a time when that’s all I ever wanted. I just wanted someone to stand up and admit they were wrong, promise to do more to protect children, and apologize for what happened to me. I think it could have been a few simple words from “them” that could’ve gone a long way with me. Instead, I had to fight tooth and nail. I had to beg and plead for help. When I was finally able to get help it was always on their terms and not on my own. They constantly promised me all kind of things and I tried holding them to their word, but it never worked. I literally had to call the Oblates and remind them to keep their word. So many broken promises. The VAC for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia promised to call me back 3 weeks ago. I’m still waiting. Yet another promise broken.
Everything could be a lot easier if people would just keep their word. I’m all about keeping my word, and I think it’s just lousy that I can’t rely on a moral-based, religious, Christian institution, and men of God to keep their word. I have always upheld my end of the bargain. I expect the same in return. When you break promises with me I take it personally and it’s just one more stab in the back from an institution that I swear is not helping, but continuing to find ways they can hurt me and keep me down. Someone breaking their word to me is what I consider absolute total disrespect for me and I want no relationship with them. My friends will tell you it is the only thing I demand and expect in our friendship.
I identify with that little boy that I was. I don’t know if anyone realizes it but when I speak about my abuse I go inside myself and I become that little boy in my mind. When you’re listening to me speak, or you’re reading my words, most of those words is the voice of that little boy. It took over 20 years, but he finally got a chance to talk and still nobody listens. He prayed to Superman to rescue him yes, but still nobody ever comes to save the day. That kid knows all too well that nobody will ever stop the bad men. He knows he’s all alone. He knows nobody will hear him crying and he closes his eyes and drifts off to that safe place. That kid cried on the phone and begged the Oblates to get him someone to talk with who might be able to understand what he’s been going through and might be able to help, but even then in 2009, he was just about ignored for much of the conversation and was told “not to tell anyone what I had just talked about.” They always wanted me to keep it a secret.
The only reason I’m am writing today and the only reason I stand in front of churches or houses with signs and hand out flyers is because I want to protect other kids from knowing what it has been to like be that little boy. Nobody listened to him. They just pushed him aside like he didn’t matter and he was expendable. They treated him like his life wasn’t worth the paper his birth certificate wasn’t printed on. The Church loves the Statute of Limitation laws, and I’m sure they do enough praying in hopes that too much time will pass for that little boy, or he’ll die from alcoholism or a drug overdose, or maybe he’ll find a gun and blow his head off. That’s how they protect themselves, because they couldn’t give a damn one way or the other for that little boy, just as long as he’s 31 years-old when he decides to use his voice. He’s only somewhat important until time runs out.
I hate that there are so many little boys and little girls like me out there. But, as horrible as it might sound by saying it, “I feel good that I’m not alone and I have friends who understand me because they tried to be good little boys and girls too.” I wish people would listen to my story before they ignore my protest to walk into the church with their children in tow, where a suspected predator priest is giving mass. I worry that parents would allow their child to enter a confessional without supervision, or to become an alter boy, or to go on camping trips and beach houses and they don’t have a clue what is hapening to their child. I despise how I was the kind of innocent child we all were, so trusting of authority figures that we felt like their touching was wrong, we screamed through the tears that the pain was unbearable, and for whatever reason we stayed silent about it until we became adults and finally had the ability to think for ourselves and I just casually thought one day, “Wow… that was really fucked up!” The memory of the abuse and the detailed images I have in my mind of what men did to my small, undeveloped body and mind finally stirred the emotions and make me realize just how broken I’ve become. After that first time, when he did that to me, or made me do that to him, life would never be the same. Who I was meant to be wasn’t even a remote possibility or a memory. From that point on life became a secret. It became a desire to be hidden away, distrusting of anyone around me, fearful of being touched, paralyzed by odors and words, keeping to myself, always cleaning my body, and wanting to be alone behind closed, locked, and barricaded doors where I could be safe. Life was about making sure I did everything the same way every day so nobody could ever hurt me again.
I like it so much when I see people ending their comments on here with “I believe the victims.” You really have no idea how much that inspires me to keep screaming from the rooftops. Every time I see those words I feel like you’re validating me and what that little boy had to endure. Somebody is finally listening to us and as much as we never thought in a million years we would be believed they actually do believe us. I think I can say that 80% of silence is the fear of not being believed, because I know that if my parents or someone else back then didn’t believe me it would’ve only made the guilt and shame so much more unbearable. When I first started participating in protests it was horrible! I’m not kidding either. After the first few leaflettings I wondered if it was really worth it and if people were taking us seriously too. I couldn’t believe some of the words the “good Catholic” old ladies would yell at us. We had objects thrown at us. I’ve been spit on, told you go fuck myself, get a life, coward, money-hungry leech, and that’s all mostly the kind stuff. After well over 150 of those protests and leaflettings, those people are invisible and silent to me. I am protecting kids. I know I am and it makes me feel very good about myself. Can you imagine if I actually found out that my protest saved a child from being abused by some priest who was supposed to take the child on a trip or something like that? It’s total revenge! When I do my “alerting the community work” I look at it like total revenge. I am protecting children when nobody protected me. It’s the best feeling in the world.
I’ve been visiting this website and commenting since its inception. I have seen many attitudes change here. There were people I swore I’d never interact with 10 months ago. Now I’m proud to have them on my side. Correct me if I’m wrong, and my intent is not to take any credit for anything or to pat myself on the back, but I just feel like maybe I may have had something to do with changing a mind or two. 10 months ago I was trying to hire secret agents to find out where you live so I could protest your insensitive lousy comments in front of your houses. LOL
I don’t know what will make me healing more, or faster, or any if at all. I just know that I feel better when I write about it and I do something that protects children from ever becoming friends with those little boys and girls we once were. It wasn’t that long ago that Philly was Ground Zero for the amount of Catholics who didn’t believe us victims. I think it’s important to keep fighting to get the laws changed so that victims can hold their perpetrators accountable civilly, but more importantly – criminally. My abuser is dead, but the many who knew about him abusing little boys deserve to be punished also. They should be in jail!
But anyway, I don’t know how much that all answers your questions, but that’s what I wanted to write. I hope it helps those who might not understand what it’s like for the victims and why it’s so very important we do everything to prevent it from happening to more children. I’d like to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee if we ever get these House Bills on the floor. Thanks for supporting us, believing us, and standing with us. I’m proud to be in your company.
Rich Green (Victim/Advocate/Sixers & Phillies Fan)
When I read your blogs I wish I could save all the kids in the world but I can’t because I am not God and only one person…..but you have demonstrated how one person can influence and educate and help to change hearts so changes in atitudes and hearts may occur. A year ago I never would have found my self down at the Lynn trial but you have challenged me to want to know the truth and in finding the truth to make changes by trying to influence those in my small world. I read a book by I believe by Andy Andrews and it is called the butterfly effect the good you do multplies when you touch other people. In away you and all victims make me realize how flawed I truly am and I see Christ in all of you more than my self and that is humbling……
I also think instead of giving money to the AD we should do start a victim relief fund called “I believe the victims” especially until they impliment the grand jury recommendations and open the statute of limitation window.etc It would be for therapy etc…….
I wish the AD, our priests and laity would see what I see in our victims …………..the face of Christ…………..
I know you are agnostic……..I dont mean that comment to seem like it takes away from your own uniquness…….I am trying to say……you and all victims I have met possess a certain something I find humbling….
Thanks for what you wrote. It really helps. If I ever happen to disagree with what you write…just email me. I’ll be happy to send my address=:)
I don’t know why, maybe it’s the beautiful day outside, but while reading your post I was remembering that this was exactly the kind of day it was when I decided to tell my Mom what happened, who all did it to me, and ask her the question I’ve been waiting 38 years to ask: “Did you know?” Before I walked into the house, my brother, (twice the size as I), got in my way and asked: “What the fuck are you here for?” I told him to get out of my way. He said: “You better not fuckin upset her!” Anyway, I went in, said what I needed to say, asked what I needed to ask. She said she didn’t know but I believe in my heart of hearts that she did and was just too helpless to do anything about it. Life was painful enough for her as it was, but wasn’t she supposed to protect me?? I’ve reconciled the fact that she truly did the best she could with everything that was on her plate and truly hope that she’s resting in peace.
Months after that beautiful day and conversation that still leaves me with so many mixed emotions, I was home visiting her and she said something I’ll never forget:
“Jerry, I went to the parish mission this week and went to a priest for confession. I told him about everything we talked about before and he told me to ‘just put it out of my mind.’ So that’s what I’m going to do.” I said, “OK, Mom. You do what you need to do.”
I wonder, to this day, how many other people that priest gave the same advice to?
I believe You, Rich. I know my truth and I believe the Victims/Survivors. We won’t go away!
To Elizabeth: Thank You for your excellent comment “knowing that we are not alone”.
I am thankful to Catholics4Change; for the global community; for information at our finger-tips; for places where we can be heard; for movements that help the weakest among us. I had bought into all the catholic messages such as dissension was anti-catholic; that the media was prosecuting the church; that civil laws were problematic; that the culture of death was relativism / secularism / individualism; that speaking-up was disloyalty to mother-church and sinful behavior; that superiors were in place of God Himself; that to pray, pay, obey was what God wanted from us; that fear ruled our lives in the name of faith.
The Truth will set us free. The Truth lives in openness, transparency, and accountability and not in darkness, secrecy, and silence. The Truth lives in a personal relationship with God and not in complex rules, scholarly explanations, and intellectual discussions. What have we learned from the long drawn-out process over the new missal? How did Jesus teach us to pray? What has helped me heal is opening my eyes and ears to the Truth. Jesus often healed the blind and the deaf. I believe he has healed me and continues to heal me in my journey to recovery.
Speaking Up, I hope you will read Carmen Tapia’s book, Inside Opus Dei: The True, Unfinished Story, I think it would bring a great deal of understanding to see what she went through many years ago. Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II is a classic work on the Legion, it reveals their deceptive practices for all to see. Also see, The Pope’s Armada: Unlocking the Secrets of Mysterious and Powerful New Sects in the Church. The Church sponsors wacky groups all the time; they survive until someone blows the whistle on them. Here is a story of one of them, as it appeared in The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/local/longterm/library/mog/mogmain.htm
Sorry I opened my gob. How can I compete with the travails of others? ( You must think us victims moronic.)
Get this, our healing when and where and if we ever do, is none of your buisness. The reason it’s none of your buisness, Is that you have allowed SNAP to exist. SNAP and the bullshit groups like you. These groups re-perpetrate us every time they speak for us. But i can see the antidote to truth, a long sad story that includes a protect the children rap, I am defenseless against it. It’s so pure and alltruistc I weep. How could I be so cruel to criticize anything here. Let alone Victims organizations who do not include anyone but the most passive of victims. I’m sorry democracy is a terrible Idea. I’m tugging my forelock. Practicing for the return to the dark ages. That is the natural outcome of your thinking.
jim robertson, I usually try with due diligence, to keep my composure on this site. However, I find your post very confusing and insulting. Who are you making fun of? “Our healing when and where…” who is ‘our?’ I don’t understand the assault on SNAP and OUR “bullshit group.” You owe an explanation, if you’re “altruistic” (you misspelled it) enough. If not, I can only assume you are related to Pat Robertson.
So, is something wrong with Pat Robertson? No offence, just enquiring minds and all that, you know.
Jim you are angery your not like the victims that replied here………you consider yourself less passive………..you don’t trust us or our movtives that’s fine……..just wondering………any particular reason you read this blog then?
I give you a thumbs up because you told us how you truly feel……..I appreciate that. So what do you want us to do nothing? I really would like to know.
Jim, I am sorry for what happened in your life to hurt you so much. We are just trying to support each other in all of this. Personally I don’t feel like SNAP reperpetrates me when they speak up about sexual abuse. Could you please explain to me exactly what you mean by your post? What do you mean by “the most passive of victims?” and “I’m sorry democracy is a terrible idea,” etc. Do you know of a more helpful way to support each other?
I’m not exactly a fan of SNAP either and I think the organization, like many organizations has its flaws. If I want to continue on my journey toward healing I can’t point the finger at what they, he, she hasn’t done for me and my needs. I draw a little bit from every organization and so many people in my network of support to get through each day. You can’t expect one organization to mold itself to fit one person’s needs. You take what little is offered and you move on to the next little bit offered. If you find one place doesn’t have anything to suit your needs you just move on and know not to go back.
Don’t be sorry you spoke up. Don’t be sorry about that ever. Right now our abusers and then enablers are sorry that we’re speaking up. It’s our time to have the control and the power, because we’ve got something they will never have… the TRUTH my brother. The truth will set me free.
At the end of this journey I know my healing would not have been relied upon SNAP or C4C or RAINN or anyone else, but myself. I take a little bit from every place, but ultimately “I” am the only one who can heal myself.
Thank You, Mark, for the link to the “Mother of God” Community. I knew someone who belonged to that community and said that it was a terrible experience. Is Christopher West the same theologian who speaks on John Paul 11’s book ‘Theology of the Body’? Last year I read Carmen Tapia’s book, “Inside Opus Dei: The True, Unfinished Story.” I also traced her whereabouts to a university in the States. She did not want to revisit the past but I was told by a staff-member that she was a cheerful person and in good health. I’ve also read “The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II” and “The Pope’s Armada: Unlocking the Secrets of Mysterious and Powerful New Sects in the Church.” The “Regnum Christi” and “Mille Jesu” Communities have also come under the spot-light. There’s also the autobiography written by Sister Jesme called “Amen”, in which she talks about ‘a highly sexualized priesthood’ and that she and some other sisters were sexually abused in Indian Convents. The larger Indian Newspapers would not report her story, while others did not include her story in their online-archives. The Church wanted her to undergo a psychological assessment while she was in the Convent and they retaliated by attacking her reputation after she had left. She is probably the only Indian-Sister who has publicly spoken-up against sexual abuse and she is probably facing sanction from her conservative christian community. The Internet also has a write-up on the rape and murder of a Sister from a nearby Indian Convent … the involvement of the police … the main suspects being a priest and nuns. The plight of the Sisters in Africa is well-known. Books such as ‘Maria Monk’ are also receiving renewed attention. I hope that the Good Sisters and Good Priests join the cause to protect children from sexual abuse.
My Mother isn’t here with us, but I’d still like to wish Her and all Mothers who read this incredible blog a very Happy and Blessed Mother’s Day. You are the ones who gave us life. Yes, sometimes we wish you hadn’t. But if You hadn’t, we wouldn’t be here to witness the incredible events unfolding before us. Thank You, Mom. Thank You, Susan, Kathy, and all of the incredible Mothers who have nurtured us through this incredible and vital site. Again, Thank You and Happy Mother’s Day!
Jerry, Thank you! It was wonderful to wake up to this message.
Thank You Jerry
Thank you, Susan, for asking and giving a space for us to respond. I have heard it said, “Sexual assault occurs in isolation, and healing takes place within community.” That’s it in a nutshell for me. The things that impeded my healing were the things that kept me isolated- people who wouldn’t believe me, blamed me or just wanted me to keep quiet about it. Things that healed me are the things that build community, everything from a supportive, very gifted therapist, in-person and online survivors’ groups, friends and family who understand or are willing to try, and now this- to know this group is here is very helpful to me: knowing you who were not personally abused nor had it happen in your family are willing to get involved warms my heart tremendously.
Also, I think of what one friend said. She was abused by two men starting at a very young age, six or so. She said, “They ruined my childhood, but I’ll be damned if they ruin the rest of my life.” At a certain point, a person has to decide just how much power they are going to give to all this. For me, that means only giving so much energy to this and focusing on all the other things in life: nature, family, friends, work. I agree with my friend: I’ll be damned if they ruin any more of my life.
Beautifully said Janet healing does take place in community and I thank God every day for this one.
I can’t imagine what it is like to be a survivor. I am not one. Someone in my family is. I can say that child abuse affects an entire family. It causes so much pain and stress. I think about the pain almost daily. It has changed my life in so many ways. My family has been altered forever. I do gather strength from listening to other survivors. You are so courageous!!! I want to thank Susan and Kathy for providing this wonderful website. I have been following from the beginning.
It helps to know that someone cares about what you are going through. It is so difficult to speak about this topic. It seems that nobody is listening. It also helps to know that there are wonderful people like Susan, Kathy and all the followers of C4C who are passionate about protecting our children. I thank you all!! It also helps to have good fiends and a wonderful family. I need to thank you as well!! When something like this happens you find out who your true friends are. I was abandoned buy many who I thought were my friends.
What hurst the most is the way the AD is dealing with this issue; the coverup, the lies, the lawyers, the attempts at PR, the lack of empathy toward the victims, and the lack of leadership. I find it very difficult to even attend mass. Sometimes I find myself there because of my children. I become ill when sitting in the pews. I feel it is a hypocritical place that is lacking in warmth. I would like to believe this terrible thing happened to my family for a reason. Maybe God has a plan for me. I hope one day that I can use my experiences to help others cope when their lives have been shattered. I pray for all of the survivors and their families. I hope you can find peace.
Carmella, I understand! I, too, am still attending Mass because of my children and until my husband and I figure out what we are going to do with our family’s religious/spiritual life. While we are in the process of figuring that out, I still want us to spend that weekly time focused on Jesus, sometimes in Church, sometimes in doing service for others and praying on our own, It is getting more and more difficult for me, though, to get through Mass. I have walked out on the last 2 Masses, once when the letter from Chaput was read and another during an arrogant, ignorant sermon. I went outside and prayed by myself, near Mary’s statue and garden, during the remainder of the sermon. I made sure to receive Communion from a lay person and not the priest.
I, too, pray that God has a plan for me and my family. I want my children to have faith in Jesus and to be close to him, to have a healthy spirituality, and to have moral integrity. I’m just not yet sure of the best way to do that. When there is no relationship between what is preached from the pulpit and what is followed by those preaching it, the rising level of hypocrisy becomes harder and harder to swallow on a regular basis.
Jackie, you said:”I, too, pray that God has a plan for me and my family. I want my children to have faith in Jesus and to be close to him, to have a healthy spirituality, and to have moral integrity” I question whether parents should [before God] place thir innocent children into a “cult like situation” that may indeed prove in the long run to actually be a cult. Why not rely on the Lord and His word in the bible?
Mark posted in part:” The Church sponsors wacky groups all the time; they survive until someone blows the whistle on them. Here is a story of one of them, as it appeared in The Washington Post, “http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/local/longterm/library/mog/mogmain.htm
speaking up replied:
Thank You, Mark, for the link to the “Mother of God” Community. I knew someone who belonged to that community and said that it was a terrible experience. Is Christopher West the same theologian who speaks on John Paul 11′s book ‘Theology of the Body’?
This is amazing [no pun intended] our family was involved in the same “charismatic ” prayer group and knew the Cavanaughs, the couple mentioned in the Post article before they joined “Mother Of God”. We moved out of state in ’78 , so our teen age children might have become involved in that situation if we hadn’t moved. Thank God! We knew others that went to Gaithersburg to join up and they kept in touch with Christmas cards over the years; however, they never hinted at the troubles revealed in the newspaper article. I have to say, for those who read the Post’s story— doesn’t it seem disingenuous for the Roman Catholic Church Hierarchy to be investigating the community to see if it is a “cult?” I have to laugh!
I have been led to believe that a sincere public apology by the Bishop is one way to get relief from sexual abuse by a priest. Could anyone comment on this for me?
Leo, after reading that you are a abuse survivor and age 82— I am really concerned that you do get “relief” somehow.You really do “deserve it” IMO. I know this much- taking your life situation to the Lord Jesus Christ and trusting in His care for your needs will always help. God cares enough to send the very best!1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
How can you give a sincere public apology if you won’t listen to us tell our stories, you don’t know what we’ve been through, and you don’t care to know how the abuse has effected our lives?
Furthermore, it wasn’t much of a problem to transfer these individual abusers from one location to another to abuse more children, so if I’m going to get an apology and I want to feel like it is genuine and heartfelt, I expect an individual apology from a bishop on higher. I expect that man to give me time to speak and to really listen to what I have to say. I expect him and the higher ups to prove to me and show me physical evidence of how they plan to really protect children in the future.
The Catholic Church, while transferring child abusing priests all over the world, obviously didn’t once take into consideration the many lives that would be effected by their actions. These pedophile priests, the majority of them, abused more than one child, and abused sometimes many, many children over a period of years and even decades. If nearly 5,000 US Catholic priests have been implicated and accused of having abused children, how many victims do you think there might be? Pedophile priests are just the tip of the iceberg and the Catholic Church is the iceberg!
I don’t see how anyone like the Catholic Church or any member of the hierarchy can provide a decent apology when they continue to “rape” us all over again with their lies and their blantant insensitivity to our needs as children and our desire to heal as adults who were abused as children.
The Catholic Church has made it abundantly clear that they are not in the business of owning up to its own mistakes and apologizing later for their misdeeds. The only thing that continues to steer their ship is money, power, and prestige. An apology from a bishop today would mean didly squat for me!
Dear Leo, my mother passed away in October at age 84. Just a few years ago we asked for and received an apology from the Bishop to her for her multiple rapes by a priest when she was in her 20’s and 30’s. Why did we bother asking for it? Because she was having flashbacks and nightmares in the nursing home and we were trying anything we could to bring her some peace. It seemed to help her. I, on the other hand, have no need for, and no belief in, the sincerity of any apology I might receive for my abuse at the hands of the same priest in my early childhood. Yes, the same man abused me, too, and one of my brothers. An evil, sick man.
As to the question of what has helped me? Years of therapy with a sexual trauma specialist and some inpatient time when necessary to learn the skills needed to overcome the self-harming, suicidal depression I fight on a regular basis. And writing helps me, too. As does confronting the church authorities with my story. I have been trying to get my bishop to help pay for therapy since the late 1990’s. He eventually got tired of me writing to him so he lawyered up and wouldn’t communicate with me any more. But I keep trying different avenues to get his attention. Telling my story gives me a sense of power and control over something which left me feeling powerless and broken, and sometimes it gives other victims the consolation (empty though it is) that they are not alone and someone else really does understand how it feels … the violence done to a child who is raped by a priest is physical, emotional, spiritual, and existential. Facing the reality of my abuse, learning about the rape of my mother, confronting the reality of the Church hierarchy’s complicity in the decades long cover up of abuse, caused me lose my faith in my Church, abandon my profession (I taught high school theology), and lose my belief that Life and Suffering had meaning and purpose. What has helped me heal is the love and support of my therapist, my husband and sons, and a few, wonderful fellow survivors who understand.
Mona I was listening to the radio one Sunday afternoon a number of years ago when they started replaying an apoligy that was held in Ottawa. The Archbishop was leading it. The boys were abused in a home for boys. The Archbishop was most concerned and wanted to help them. When he finished his apoligy the boys were crying in their seats. Their load was lifting and most of the boys then went to give the Archbishop a warm hug. This is what I call a sincere apoligy. We need more of these Bishops. This is what I was looking for..It was held in the Cathedral and was opened to the public
If that will help heal your heart then I hope you get it. On the other hand I wish there was a way you could get what you need in a different way, so you wouldn’t be waiting on them, because that gives them the power over your healing.
There is a priest, fr Tom Doyle, who speaks at the snap conventions, he is a tremendous advocate of victims and a friend, I know he would be willing to offer you support. I have received a lot of support from involvement in snap local group.
Mona Father Tom Doyle is my HERO too. I HAVE BEEN READING everything I come across of his. He is suppored strongly by the NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER. HE has suffered also for helping us. GOD BLESS HIM
My prayer right now is that you know in your heart[spirit] that no priest, bishop or any cleric, high or low can come between you and your loving Lord and Savior when you believe in what He did for you on the cross once and for all.
Leo, I’m afraid a public apology from a bishop would be like a campaign promise from a politician: not worth a whole lot. UNLESS, of course, it’s followed by action. That would mean bishops quit fighting statute of limitations reform, quit being secretive, provide ongoing financial support for survivors who need counseling and medical care, for starters. As a part of my settlement, I won the right to talk with the bishop in the diocese where I was assaulted. He was, I believe, a well-meaing person. But he could not hear my anger. I asked, raising my normally soft voice only slightly, how they could possibly have allowed the well-known predator who assaulted me to have access to more victims. He became agitated and said, “You wanted to talk to me, so I’m talking to you,” as if I should be extremely grateful?
Leo, the few well-meaning bishops just don’t get it. They could engage in dialogue and maybe eventually come to understand. Most, though, are almost diabolical in their corporate approach to dealing with the sexual assault crisis.
I was helped not by a bishop but by a priest whose brother had been victimized. He is just a good country pastor and never went up the ranks because he is too Christ-like. I don’t think Jesus was a hierarchy type of guy.
Thank you for asking, Leo.
You say “i don’t think Jesus was a hierarchy type of guy” you are so right.
I am coming late to this discussion because I had to really think about your question. How do I cope, how do I heal.
For a long time I did neither. I sat on my great terrible secret for over 33 years. And often when you bottle things up inside they have a habit of popping out in other parts of your life. I trusted no one, I kept to myself, and I hid in the open. I was distant from my family, both as a child and as an adult. No one really knew me; I really didn’t share much because I was waiting for the other shoe to fall. I was waiting for all the things I had been told would happen to me to occur.
I did not repress any of this. I can recall, in vivid detail the locations, the lies, the threats, the beatings, the sexual assaults. I can tell you about the moments where trust, faith, understanding and innocence were lost. I carried it with me as an unwanted companion for years.
I made my report to the Diocese of Scranton in 2007. They deemed my story credible and then did nothing. No investigation, no referrals of my perp to the Vatican. The victim’s assistance coordinator, a very dear woman, called to check in on me and told me that my perp was in a facility in Dittmer Missouri. He would not harm again. I later found out that he was there for a number of years and that there were other victims who had reported him. There was no record of him anywhere; the Diocese had moved him out of the jurisdiction that could have prosecuted him. The bishop was protecting his church from scandal; he was hiding roman collar crime.
A year went by and I caught an article in the Scranton Times online. I would check the site, like I had done for years, looking for the one obituary that I was waiting for all those years. This time it was an article dealing with another victim and saying that the Bishop was personally talking with all victims and doing everything he could to help. The first published lie, I had never spoken to the Bishop, who at that time had the reputation of being a bully! The Diocese had been quick to tell me the year before that I had no legal recourse and that there was nothing more to be done. My perp was an old man suffering from dementia. Funny, how that ailment strikes predator priests and their protectors when the light shines on their activities.
I called the paper, spoke with the editor and then with a reporter. In September of 2008 I went public and outed the bishop, his mouthpiece press secretary and the man that raped me, repeatedly, when I was 13. Before the article came out I had to tell my parents, devote Catholics who had revered this priest for befriending me and getting my father into a rehab program to find his sobriety. That was a hard conversation. It took my mother months before she would speak to me. I had to tell my siblings. One of my sisters named the month and year that I “changed” from an outgoing kid to a withdrawn, sullen teenager. She knew something happened, she did not know what. I had to tell my sons, that was the most difficult conversation. They listened and rallied around me. My friends from high school and college also rallied to my side. Some, I would later find out, also shared a similar great terrible secret.
I went to counseling with a great therapist. He helped me sort things out. He encouraged me to write. I started a blog; I was already out there so it was not a leap for me. I wanted my perp’s name out there on the websites that track these monsters. As a result of my blog I started getting emails from people who shared my secret. Almost all of them had kept the secret. They shared it with me and some decided to share it with their families and friends. I was not alone. I heard from people from all over who had relatives or friends that they either knew or suspected had been victims. Some were men, some were women. I heard from people in Ireland, Australia, Canada, and Germany. All had been affected by this crisis.
I cope by writing and supporting other victims. I heal with time. Sometimes the wounds get torn open by people who accuse me of seducing a man of god (I must have been a really hot 13 year old!). I have been accused of wanting a big payday, even though I have only asked for and have been denied the truth and a public accounting of my perp’s past activities. I have been called a liberal church hater, I have been threatened by apologists and there have been those in the church who have tried to silence me.
I have the truth on my side. I know the truth, I know who is lying and I know that they cannot take the truth away from me. I am not a victim, I am a survivor. As a retired Naval Officer, I know what it takes to fight a foe who will go to any underhanded method of trying to defeat me. The hierarchy of the Catholic church will go to any lengths to demean, diminish or silence a victim. I am in this for the long haul. I have not yet begun to fight.
I’m sorry about what happened to you. I am in this for the long haul as well. We will defeat them.
Thank you, Michael. While I hate the circumstances under which we have become acquainted, I am glad we have met, at least in the cybersence of the word, and am proud we’re fighting together.
Michael –your story is inspirational….the hierarchy doesn’t long stand a chance with you on their heels!! Is it permissible to tell us the name of the bishop you mention?
We have an ex-scranton bishop living in our rectory now ..with no explanation offered as to why he’s here in suburban philly… he just is. He’s a nice man, but it seems that every transfer has a story behind it– and there’s no way not to be suspicious of game playing… They’re not dealing with fools anymore.
Bishop Joseph Martino resigned in April of 2009. The circumstances around the resignation are still a little cloudy. Based on what I read, he was a little too conservative and had alienated his fellow bishops and the Vatican. I don’t want to make any implications other than that. The auxiliary Bishop also resigned at about the same time. He was past the standard retirement age, so nothing really unusual there. His name was Bishop John M. Dougherty. I do suspect he knew where some of the secrets were buried when it came to the dirty little priests of the diocese of Scranton. The real demon is Bishop Timlin. He is thought by the DA’s office in Lackawanna County to be an accomplished liar. He is the one that moved my perp, Father Robert J. Gibson.
thanks michael… i did read up on the first two you mention.. one of them took a lot of heat and made enemies for his tough pro-life stance…alienating the bishops and the vatican by following one’s own conscience must be a lousy career move — it might even land a guy in an obscure parish in suburban philly.(lol) Rigali went to scranton for a few months to replace those two bishops after he bolted and ran from the heat in Philly last year…and before he went underground in TN (of all places)
I think it’s terrific that you continue to “out” the bishop who is responsible for moving and protecting your offender…Why should he be allowed to be comfortable and respected while so many questions go unanswered and so many people suffer?
Michael and Mona,
I am so sorry for what you endured.
NONE of this “garbage’ should have occurred.
My most positive thoughts on your journey of healing.
Michael…Keep writing and keep fighting.
You are very, very courageous! You wrote a superlative post! You set a fine example. Your story reveals once again the great evil that has infected the world like a cancer— religious abuse by a powerful and wealthy force. Learning this is a process that takes time. I pray more will learn quickly and take the necessary action to rid the world of this curse.
I’ve followed your blog for a long time. I appreciate your journey from victim to becoming victim/advocate.
They always claim “we are only seeking money” because it gives them reason to hide their secrets of abuse. It lets them play the hand that money is what matters, when all I’ve ever asked for is accountability from those who knew my abuser had been abusing children 25 years before I even met the man. They throw out the word “money” to focus the sheeple’s attention on that instead of the truth and what they allowed to really happen to us.
I want money, but I want it all. I want every last dime the Catholic Church has in their bank accounts, because I want to shut down the business of abusing children and protecting predators. Anything less isn’t worth my time, nor will it ever measure up to hell I’ve gone through.
Mona and Michael,
Thank you for sharing some of your stories here. You aren’t alone.
We are fighting with you. We won’t go away and we won’t stop fighting.
I am sorry for what happened to both of you and your mother, Mona.
A simple question can be so powerful. I think the fact that this question, How do you cope? was asked at all has touched the hearts of the survivors on this blog. And the responses are very kind and compassionate. There is so much hate out there on the blogosphere and in the media, and yes from other catholics in our local communities, that it is overwhelming to experience kindnesss from catholics. That is truly as sad as it sounds. Thanks Susan.
This morning the news carried the story of the Bishop who was stripped of all his titles for importing child pornography. This is the 2nd bishop I requested a public apoligy from. I do not feel good about this. I would like to know first if he was a victum in his early days to cause him to act like this. The Church is busy burying this so they can move to gentler things. We need to know where the big problem is.
The big problem is called clericalism.
Clericalism it is, and so it has been for centuries, and sadly still is likely to continue.
For a link to the leading world expert on clericalism, Richard Sipe’s recent updated remarks on the curse of clericalism and its key role in priest sexual abuse of children, please click on at:
To Jerry Slevin- Haditcatholic – Mona,, I took your advice and I read Richard Sipe’s article . I now agree the major problem is clericalism. I must say that acepting this has lightend the load. I thank everyone involved in catholics4change for this help. Now I must try to stay on the road. We will keep in touch.
Perhaps he was a victim, and if so we should feel sad for the innocent child he once was. But I was a victim and I did not perpetrate, I assume the same is true of you, Leo, and for hundreds of thousands of others. Look at how unbalanced the Church response is to children: we can be solicited into pornography, trafficked for sex, abused by priest and prelate, and the “punishment” for a bishop who is involved in this industry (as a consumer if nothing else) is denied the authority to preside. What about denying his the sacraments altogether? The Church denies the sacraments to divorced and remarried Catholics who have not procured an annulment; the Church denies the sacraments to politicians who vote in favor of the rights of women to control their reproductive function. Divorce and women’s rights! — obviously greater evils than child rape, child porn, child destruction! I just don’t know how to process this kind of thinking.
Mona they don’t seem to understand the connections either……they are adding…. to this breakdown in morality that they keep speaking about in the media……. child abuse survivors seem to be more at risk for relationship problems and also take more risks sexually leading to stds and unwanted pregancies etc. Hello catholic church maybe if you addressed child sexaul abuse correctly there would be less divorces and abortions……
I just finished reading Richard Snipe’s article in Jerry Slevin post. WOW It is the most helpful post I ever read. I could never understand how our Church could be so callous to its followers, but this seems to be the answer. Thank you Jerry and Thank You
I am not saying all survivors but just alot of what I have read says that these are some of the issues that come from being abused.
Right on Beth< if the Church would face head on their part in this abuse we all might get over it
The hierarchy cannot and will not admit to guilt in terms of playing a role in the abuse crisis. To do so would annihilate its moral authority, rending it ineffectual. It is better that they deny culpability, even if they are found culpable. At least this leaves room for doubt. They can always blame “proven” culpability on an anti-Catholic media, jury, judge, witch hunt, or whatever. But, were they to admit guilt, it would be over and finished… “written in stone” that the hierarchy was a moral failure. As long as the hierarchy can spread “spin” to create and cast doubt, the sheep will listen, follow, pay up, and the Church “show” will go on.
Leo, if you combine Sipe’s historical comments on clericalism with Hadit’s psychological and sociological comments on cult behavior and NCR’s Jamie Manson’s column on the RCC as a new “sect”, you get a good analytical view of what’s going on.
That said, it doesn’t make the survivors pain any less.
For Jamie’s NCR column, please click on below:
One thing I advise you Leo, is to receive the peace that comes from trusting God in Christ, but don’t look for the Roman Church to become what it purports to be. That’s my two cents for ya’.
I’m in heaven over Manson’s piece! It’s exactly how I see it.
A downsized, insular, counterculture sect, supported by the relative abundance of rich, male uber-Catholics who might as well be uber-clerics thanks to their cultish appetities and old-world attitudes, resolves the Church’s financial woes and, too, provides the perfect climate for maintaining the hierarchy’s obsession with power and authority. Ultimately, cultish power and authority are what the hierarchy will not give up (and uber-Catholics like). The problem is, who will finance it? The rich, male uber-Catholics will. But if you REALLY want to see the uber-money flow, get rid of the liberals and progressives!
Thanks for pointing out Manson’s incredible piece.
It’s OK Beth, I didn’t take your comments as an insult or as a suggestion that all survivors use drugs or are promiscuous. You are right that survivors of abuse do often have significant issues with substance abuse and sexual behavior, but the problems with sex can be an inability to function sexually not just an over-reactivity.
Thankyou Mona for expanding on that. Your right,
Yes, Mona. All too often people do not realize that sexual anorexia is an often, yet much less talked about, sequelae of sexual abuse.
Thanks for sharing your story with us.
I have become consumed with the trial in Philly. The sex abuse cover up in the church has caused me great personal pain, even before I found out my sister was raped by a priest. I remember when she was in High School and went in to have a D&C. Turns out the church paid for it. My husband and I recently became Episcopalians. I couldn’t stand by the Church any longer. I pray for victims and survivors alot. So many of you here have such courage and I am in admiration of you! I hope Monsignor Lynn is only the first in a long line to be prosecuted and found guilty. GOd bless all of you….I BELIEVE YOU!
I’m sorry about your sister.
I pray for truth to be revealed and for justice to be served…but most of all, I pray for healing.
You have courage too, So Sad. I hope you continue to share.
I am so sorry for your pain and what happened to your sister. Jesus said you would know those who are of him by the way they love others and keep his commandments…….these priests were not following Jesus ………one evil lead to another evil to another….
To Amazed –
Thank You for your post to me of May 19. I believe that power and entitlement lead to abuses such as verbal, emotional, mental, financial, spiritual, existential, which are often the precursors of sexual abuse. This is why I related that I was abused by the lay-council of a lay-community within a catholic religious-order… to help others see the red flags … being forewarned is forearmed. I do believe that, given changing demographics within that lay-community, it was only a matter of time before other forms of abuse surfaced. They were under the supervision of the ‘priests of the order’, while they awaited final canonical approval, which meant more independence, clout, status, prestige, lay-contributions etc … absolute power corrupts absolutely. I had believed that this lay-council was receiving very poor supervision from their superior (priest) and that we, in turn, were receiving very poor formation from the council-members (lay). I now believe they were being trained ‘all too well’ and that the corruption and politics I witnessed was indicative of the entire order, from the local-community of my city to the mother-house in Rome. There was no responses to my letters of grievance … no closure for me. Shame on them.
Truth is, there is a “test” that can be applied to know when “religious activities” of any sort may be trusted as being “of God.” But only a few know and believe this. The “test” is if the word they bring is that of the gospel of grace Jesus Christ gave to His newest apostle, Paul [or Saul of Tarsus.] If this were not so— then Paul would not have had the authority to call any other gospel “accursed.”Galatians 1:8.Galatians 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.