A Victim’s View of What Healing Should Look Like


Guest Blog By Vicky, a clergy sex abuse survivor

Obviously The Philadelphia Inquirer has let us know what they think of the sexual abuse issue by placing it with the obituaries — dead topic? I don’t think so!

Chaput said, “I apologize on behalf of the Church.” Chaput’s apology means nothing to me. He is a outsider brought in to make sure Philadelphia and Pennsylvania do not become motivated to do everything they could to help victims of clergy sexual abuse. He’s the new guy on the block. His apology would have more meaning if he had found some long-term standing priest who could convey a sincere sense of regret and grief for what has happened here. Clergy sexual abuse is a universal Church issue, the road to healing needs to begin at home. What might that healing look like? Statues of Limitations laws would be supported. Victims who truly need financial aid in terms of housing, utilities, food, and taxes would be offered as necessary assistance to simply help them to survive. Children of victims who are currently in Catholic School would continue to receive tuition support. Most of all, the Church would assume full responsibility for it’s part in the cover-up.

Chaput said, “The negligence of the church’s pastors.” Once again, it is clear that the hierarchy whether here or in Philadelphia or some where in Rome continue to be vague about where responsibility lies. If a pastor was assigned a suspected pedophile priest, the Bishop, Archbishop or Cardinal knew, but rarely the pastor. Likewise, when pastors reported sexual criminal behavior, they were told to say nothing and do nothing. They were not part of the process in dealing with the offending priest behavior.

It is obvious that the Church wants victims to simply obey. The Church has decided to move on without ever asking the victims or listening to the victims in terms of “have our words of repentance been backed up sufficiently by our actions of repentance?”

Chaput is now the 3rd head of the Archdiocese to make a hollow apology to victims, backed by insurance carriers it all comes down to “money.”

King Henry the 2nd in acknowledging his responsibility in the death of Thomas Beckett knew that the only way to show true remorse for his complicity was to go to the church take off his shirt and go under the lash, he demonstrated his remorse by giving something he cherished deeply, his own well-being.

I am not suggesting Chaput bare his back, I am suggesting that he gives up something he cherishes, so that we can all know the depth of his sincerity. For him, and for the global Church that would be money — opening up the Statues of Limitations laws truly caring for the impoverished.

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41 Responses to “A Victim’s View of What Healing Should Look Like”

  1. Chaput said, “I apologize on behalf of the Church.”

    But did HE (himself) APOLOGIZE ? Of course not.

    Say what you mean and mean what you say………that motto will never, ever by in our leadership’s playbook, that’s for sure

    Mike Skiendzielewski

  2. Thank you Vicky for your thoughtful post. You nailed it! If only we could see some understanding and action that would allow us to trust again

  3. Gov. Corbett wants to tell the Pope and I will quote “he hoped to entice him to Philadelphia by describing some of the work of the Catholic Church in the city.

    Is that the good or bad work of the church he is going to describe ?

    400 million dollars in debt. The selling off of everything that is not nailed down. The closing of schools and churches and the raising of school tuition, the lockup of three Philadelphia clergy members, with two more criminal retrials waiting to be heard. Let us not forget, because we always are is the treatment of ALL clergy abuse victims/survivors and their families.

    I do think it strange that the Gov. is trying to sell the Catholic Church in Philadelphia instead of Archbishop Chaput.

    What the Gov. should be telling the Pope about is places like Catholics4Change and the people within side. Despite what has been thrown at them, the good days and the bad days, there are Catholics who have never given up hope on one of your churches and each one of them makes or is trying to make your Church look good again.

    I’m sorry guys for my rant I must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed.

  4. Vicky,
    I always value what you share. Thank you.

    My husband mimics your thoughts about suffering with victims. The Church always stops short with their “gestures” towards victims right when it gets to the point that it will truly “cost” them. I’ll ask my husband if I can share something he wrote to a hierarch..because it said exactly that!

    I don’t enjoy watching the Church pay out…but initially for me, there was satisfaction in knowing victims were getting something…AND it cost the Church something. I feel differently today. There’s healing for a victim (I know it because I watched it) when a victim makes the Church stand and deliver for what they’ve done. How amazing it would be if the Church did so without the pressure of the media and a team of attorneys.

    • survivors wife,I was thinking of you when I was watching the news about the GM story of non disclosure of faulty ignitions for over a decade that resulted in injury and death..remember our recent such analogy?
      Can you imagine the general public slamming the GM victims and calling them money hungry? I just heard this morning about GM bringing in a high powered attorney to begin setting up a victims fund..GM knows what they have to do keep the public trust..people could just go buy other cars from now on and leave GM in the dust..the Church knows they have a stronger hold on the people in their pews than loyalty to a car company.

      • Look at the outrage toward GM for knowing the entire time parts were faulty. Would anyone ever say, “Those greedy victims! They just want to take down a good car company!”

        To add insult to injury…while they were busy lying to the public…we bailed their a**es out. Don’t get me going on how wrong all of that was..but, I digress.

        • Survivor’s wife, I love how you compare how survivors have been treated to GM and the 19 death’s they caused. I am appalled by GM’s behavior. Does any corporation and that included the church have ANY regard for human beings?

  5. Chaput said, “The negligence of the church’s pastors.” Ok, chaput must have forgot about the list of 30 priests that ‘bEVIlaqua’ ordered lynn to destroy ! IMHO these are small empty hollow words spoke by a small empty hollow man !

    • Three of my perps were listed on the “dreaded” list. What a shock when during Lynn’s trial I found that out! Up to that point Lynn had told me there werwe no other victims for these men. Thank God for good therapy, I was able to deal with it and go forward.

  6. Vicky it was a pleasant and rewarding experience to see you along with everyone who attended the Vigil, I am still laughing that the ‘perps’ had security to keep a watchful eye on the Victims ! The rcc\chaput\pope\vatican\hierarchy must realize they will always have excuses but will only have a ‘few’ opportunities to repent, then it will be too late !

    • Unable,
      In my mind, the security guards were there to protect the victims from the clergy.

      What lies do they listen to that would allow them to make the decision to hire security guards? Who are their ill-informed advisors? The average Catholic sees them and what? Decides the victims could go CRAZY and attack the innocent people inside? Perpetuating the fear that victims are to be feared. They send quite a message, don’t they?

      • One would think it was calculated effort to paint survivors as unhinged. There has never ever been any violence during victim protests. The ONLY violence occurred when these protestors were RAPED and MOLESTED as children by trusted clergy.

    • unabletotrust, Thank you. It was rewarding for me to meet so many that blog on c4c. I hope that Susan and Kathy can get something together so we can all get together, I would very much look forward to that.
      I thought it funny to that they had security for”us”. What I did was I went up to some security guards and spoke to them in a very friendly and kind manner, they seem to welcome the discussion because they looked so bored. My attitude towards them said more about me/us then anything said by the archdiocese. I actually got to the point where I was joking with them.

  7. Susan, you are so right…………let the leadership think about and focus on the VIOLENCE that was perpetrated on the innocent victims, young children and young adults in archdiocesan environments over the years.

    If they really understood the depth of the pain, suffering, degradation and humiliation, their inclination would be to hire 100’s of security guards for an event such as the “healing Mass.” I guess it is the ultimate example of “cognitive dissonance” where, in this case, our religious leaders consciously and deliberately refuse to process, in their minds, hearts and souls, just how evil, criminal and life-destroying sexual abuse and pedophilia really is for each and every victim, whether identified or yet to be identified.

    These are not honorable MEN.

    Michael Skiendzielewski
    Captain (Retired)
    Philadelphia Police Dept.

  8. Sorry Vicky, You sound disappointed seeing the story not put into the front page or at least the front page of the local section. You have put so much into making us aware of the pain caused by this sexual abuse crisis and you will not let us forget. You spent time talking to the reporter and helping so many survivors through their pain. We won’t put this on the back burner. You won’t allow us to forget where the blame belongs – on the Catholic Church.

    Thank you Vicky.

    • You are most welcome! I will forever me an advocate for the helpless the hurting and the most vulnerable as long as my voice is heard!

  9. I don’t want to place this under Vicky’s beautiful sharing, but I didn’t know where else to put it.

    So….if you spend too much money…the Pope removes a bishop. But, if you know of your brothers raping children and purposely move those predators and create more victims…you get promoted.

    Salt in the wounds.

    http://news.msn.com/world/pope-replaces-german-bling-bishop-after-inquiry

    • Survivor’s Wife, I read this article and had the exact same response as you. How fast they move to remove a Bishop when millions (42 million in US money) is being spent. If the german people had not protested I believe he would have gotten away with it. You see, people (catholics) need to protest in large numbers for this Church to hear them in terms of supporting victims, sadly, they remain silent.

  10. What Vicky writes expresses such hollowness in the Catholic Church. This abuse, from those people we once honor, seems to create feelings there is nothing true or valuable to believe in. There is nothing left which we can attach ourselves. The church, then, creates a vacuum by their mechanical responses. Their machinery is grinding along on their own.

    These mechanical responses are coercive and damaging. It seems to me, this hollowness is a symbol of their entire psychological orientation. Granted the leaders in the church seem to want everyone feel normal but we are also constricted. Because the church is communicating hollow feelings, it feels like it will take faith to move beyond any church beliefs. Real faith truly is our guide and it sure has nothing to do with beliefs in the Catholic Church. I appreciate everyone’s faith and allowing me to find a new faith beyond learned procedures.

  11. Hi, Vicky.

    Susan recently asked for some good news…

    Father Tom Doyle continues his relentless efforts to hold people accountable…

    http://ncronline.org/blogs/examining-crisis/popes-new-abuse-commission-another-promise-waiting-be-broken

    Martin

    • Hello Martin, Nice to hear from you, it’s been awhile. Thank you for sending this on about Fr. Doyle. I met him several years ago. I think very highly of him, to me, he is what I would call a living saint. He has been relentless in in trying to get the Church to listen to victims. This man “get’s it” on a very deep level. The gates of heaven will open wide when he enters!

  12. Vicky: When I first became aware of this site, it was yours and Richs’ blogs that I would look for first .I could tell by reading your blogs, that you had been in many of the dark places that my mind had taken me. As a long suffering victim, I knew that there were other survivors out there, but how to be in contact with them was a problem. This site has helped me a great deal. Your courage is awe inspiring. This May I will be retiring, as my birthday is in April. I will be sixty five. I look forward to moving back to the Philly area within the next six months to a year. Right now, it is a three hour drive one way to Philadelphia. Events like last weekend will be more attainable then .I really look forward to meeting you.

    • Hello, My Friend,
      If I was able to offer you some hope knowing you were not alone, I accomplished some of my goal. Giving survivors hope, is at the top of my list of goals. Thank you for sharing what meant so much to you. We are very close to the same age {although, I am told I look a lot younger!}so I can identify a lot of what you blog. I firmly believe that when you complement another e.g. courage you possess that same quality in yourself. You have accomplished so much by holding on to your values. The fact that you are still here today, speaks of your courage and intergrity. I feel especially connected to you because we survived the sixties! I very much look forward to meeting you when you come back here. By the way, Happy almost Birthday!! Celebrate you, my friend you have come home to yourself!

  13. Vicky,
    Thank you so much for sharing your perspective. I learn so much from everyone who posts here.

    How many of us first watched Becket or A Man for All Seasons in high school? How odd is it that so much of what I know about faithful servants of the Church I learned in classes taught by Paul and DePaoli? So much I know about the betrayal comes from knowing how the leaders of the Church shuffled them around to give them unfettered access to us.

  14. Vicky,
    What can I say that I have not already said…….you are an amazing person and I am happy to call you a friend. You have taught us so much…….and given many the strength to look at all the ugliness and want to make a difference……..I agree with what you blogged. I would like to see the church become what it was in Jesus’ time……..poor in riches and rich in faith……Thankyou for all you have done to educate our hearts and minds……..I wish you peace and joy……..because real peace and joy no one can take from you………

  15. If the bill becomes law, potential school employees would have to disclose on a state form any reports of sexual misconduct in their employment histories. And schools would have to reveal such reports to any educational institution that inquires about a potential employee.

    Most schools have shared such information voluntarily, but not all have, nor are they required to do so legally.

    The Pennsylvania proposal would not trump existing confidentiality agreements between employees and schools — only future agreements — thus allowing at least some such reports to remain secret.

    Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20140403_Pa__bill_targets_sex-abuse_disclosure_rules_for_schools.html#C1TuJw3oxFUAD7Yl.99

    Can you believe it. This state continues to protect these rapists/abusers. Confidentiality agreements are protected? What about the requirement to report abuse – mandatory reporting? I am confused.

    • Ed , local news about a teacher now arrested with multiple allegations..some dating back 8 years and the school did not report..how does this happen in this day and age with mandatory reporting laws?

      • Kathy,

        Good question. In the 80’s it was a personnel issue. In CYA whose a was being protected. Nice for the AD to release predators to areas like Dallas and claim that they can’t release info like addresses. Don’t know what law is allowing protection of predators? Is this an employment issue ? An issue of innocent until proven guilty? Where does mandatory reporting fit into child sexual abuse?

        GM did report that a problem existed for the last 10 years. Did the same problem occur before that or are they only required to confess to problems within a 10 year period? When was that technology developed or the blueprints drawn? So The victims of the Church, GM and other institutions have no justice because of protections given by the law – not a direct supervisor as defined by EWOC, SOLs expired, withheld evidence until it was too late, or use confidentiality agreements to silence.

  16. Katherine FitzGerald Reply April 4, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Vicky,

    Your journey has taken you from victim, to survivor, to whistleblower, to formidable advocate. Such a testimony to your mind, heart, character, strength, and spirit. I’m honored to know you. You truly are an inspiration. Thank you for being who you are and for doing what you do.

    Kate

  17. The year was 1961. John Kennedy had just been elected president. I had been to one of his rally’s the year before at the Willow Grove Shopping Center , not far from my home. All was right with the world or so I thought .It was the first Saturday of June. School would be done for the summer in just a few days. I was a skinny, freckled faced runt of a kid, weighing some eighty pounds .As I walked to Church to serve the eight o’clock Mass, my thoughts were on the baseball game I would be playing in that night . Back then that is what kids did. No video games, no cellphones. Heck, I don’t even think we had color TV.I arrived at the Church: St. John of the Cross, located in Roslyn, Abington Township, Montgomery County just a short distance from Philadelphia. Saying the Mass that day was Albert Kostelnick .A very young priest who later was one of the priests profiled in one of the Grand Jury Reports. At the time he taught at Cardinal Dougherty High School located in the city. There was nothing unusual during the Mass. Father K. said the Mass in Latin and as Altar boys, myself and the other server answered in Latin. There were not many people in the Church that morning. The other sever was two years older than me. I was twelve and he was fourteen. It was an unusual paring. Usually we served with other boys in the same grade .After Mass, as we were cleaning up and putting things away when the Associate Pastor, I will call Him Father X , appeared in the Sacristy of the Church .Father X told Father K that he wanted to talk to me and the other server. I remember Father Kostelnick’s response like it was yesterday:”Not Again”.he yelled. The two priests argued for some time.Eventually Father K gave up and left me and the other boy alone with Father X. Now alone with the Associate Pastor, he accused me and the other boy of stealing altar wine. Now Father X had obviously been drinking for some time. He smelled strongly of alcohol, a smell I was all too familiar with, living with an Alcoholic Dad. Father X told me and the other boy that we had a choice. Either we could be expelled from school and thrown off the Altar boys or he could punish us himself. We both chose the former but he decided on the later. He led us to a large storage closet behind the Sacristy. He had us completely undress. Then locking the storage closet with us inside, he went around the church locking all the doors so nobody could enter.When he returned he led us back to the Sacristy area. We were both completely naked. He decided that since I was the youngest, I would be punished first. He had me lay across his lap where he proceeded to spank me. The only thing is, it wasn’t really a spanking. He ran his hands over my backside and down in between my legs.I cried the entire time, not because I was in physical pain but because I was embarassed and ashamed. In short order, he got tired of me crying and had me get dressed . He led me to the side entrance of the Church .Unlocking the door, he told me not to tell anyone or else. Standing outside the Church, I was in a state of shock. While we were locked in the storage closet, myself and the other boy pledged to each other that we would get help, if either one of us managed to get free. Suddenly I heard the other boy scream from inside the Church. I ran to the Convent, located less than a hundred yards from the front of the Church. I rang the door bell and when a nun appeared whom I didn’t recognize. I asked her if my sixth grade teacher, Sister Honore Marie, was there. She told me that Sister was home visiting her parents for the weekend. Not knowing her, I decided to run home and try to get help. My mother and several of my siblings were there. Now my youngest sister had been born the previous November. I was the second oldest at twelve. So my mother had her hands full. I am sure I was not very coherent about what had just happened to me. Eventually I was able to convince my mother to call the rectory .The person that answered the phone assured my mother that everything was ok and that my childhood imagination had run amok.I was concerned for the other boy. Later that day myself and my sister who was eleven went back to the Church.We listened outside and heard nothing. We were prepared to run if Father X were to appear. For the rest of that Saturday and into Sunday afternoon. I continued to make sense of what had happened.I continued to talk about what had happened with my brothers and sisters. My mother got tired of hearing me and told me to forget what happened or else. That was the second “or else” I heard that weekend.So I did as any good Catholic obedient boy would do: I forgot it.

  18. So what happened to me after the abuse? Looking back now, some fifty five years later I realize that my entire life changed that day. The effects of what happened to me would take many years for me to discover. I don’t know what happened to the other server. I can only imagine. I never talked to him after the abuse. The following year, he would be in High School and I would enter 7th grade. Father X never tried anything else with me. I remember that he came to our house that summer for some Church Collection. I hid in the back yard behind a brick grill that my father had built. I continued to serve Mass, always being ready to run if Father X tried anything again. The following fall I played midget football again. I remember we reached the league finals. Unfortunately we lost in the finals. Almost all of the other boys cried after the loss. I shed not a tear. When one of the other boys asked me why I wasn’t crying. I couldn’t answer him. Looking back now I realized I had bigger things to cry about. Like most other victims of abuse suffered as a child, I became depressed . Twice in the next year, I would attempt suicide. Obviously, I was not successful. One time one of my brothers walked into our bedroom. The second time, I couldn’t get the leverage I needed while trying to hang myself with a belt around my neck from the top rung of our bunk beds. Nobody ever knew.Seventh Grade was difficult. About half way through the year, one of my classmates was writing four letter words on the blackboard. So they decided to have a sex talk. Sister Honore Marie talked to the girls. Father X gave the talk to the boys. He gave us the basics. He never talked about pedophilia. During the summer after 7th grade, my parents were forced to sell their dream house in Roslyn because of financial problems. We moved to Glenside, not too far away. I was devastated. I had to leave all my friends and classmates that I had been in school with for seven years. After we moved, my mother came up to me one day and said that someone had suggested that I could finish eighth grade at St. John of the Cross, staying in the rectory during the week and coming home for the weekends. I don’t know who suggested this but I have a good idea. Fortunately for me the pastor at the time stated that my parents would have to come up with twenty five dollars a week for food. Twenty five dollars back then was probably a third of my family’s food budget per week. So that never came to be. I don’t know why the Pastor asked for that amount but I can venture a guess. I believe he saved me from a year of tremendous pain. Eighth grade was extremely difficult for me.I was in a new school in a new neighborhood. I had difficulty making new friends. This was when I started to become pretty much of a loner. I would never play organized sports again. I didn’t desire to be an altar server even though I was pushed in that direction by my mother. As the new boy, I was picked on and bullied. It was very difficult.

  19. In some ways High School was better. I was back with many of the boys I had been in grade school with at St. John of the Cross. But they were not the same and neither was I. This is a difficult age even without all the baggage that I was carrying. I felt all alone. Adjustment from grade school to high school is difficult for all kids. Most of my classes were taught by Priests. I was scared to death of most of them. They didn’t make it any easier. My algebra teacher the first semester had us make out our own failure notices. He gave a pad of notices to the first kid in every aisle and had them pass it back, noting the few kids to skip. As a fourteen year old,I knew I was a failure. I didn’t need any priest telling me that. I believe I received three other failure notices that first semester. I thought about running away from home. I had always been an A or B student through grade school. My parents although not very educated themselves demanded excellence from their kids. I had always liked school but that began to change. I was in the second highest section throughout High School. It was extremely difficult for me.And things started to get more difficult at home. Finances were always a problem. With seven children, half of them in high school, arguments between my parents became louder and more frequent. Many of those arguments were about money. More and more they became about my father’s drinking. He had always been a heavy drinker but it seemed to be getting worse. He was starting to have problems holding on to jobs which only made the money problems that much more difficult. With the loud arguments, studying became nearly impossible. My grades which used to be A’s and B’s became mostly B’s and C’s with an occasional D or F. Still I managed to survive. I did not participate in any extra curricular activities in High School. Mostly when classes were over, I wanted to get the hell out of there. In many ways the way I handled high school was to try to remain invisible. I wanted nobody to notice that I was even there. Reading about how sexual abuse victims deal with the abuse, this is not uncommon. Nobody can hurt you if they don’t know you are there. Later on when I was into drinking myself I came to realize how good I was at doing this. I went into a bar in Horsham. The owner was someone who I was in class with all four years of high school. He didn’t remember me at all.The bartender was someone that I had been in grade school with for seven years, as well as four years of high school. He was someone I had played football with in grade school. He remembered me very well. Obviously, I was very good at being invisibleSomehow, I managed to get through High School. I graduated in 1967.

  20. I graduated from Bishop McDevitt High school in 1967. While in High school, I started working. At first I caddied at Huntingdon Valley Country Club. Even though I was still quite small, I became pretty good at this. As a sophomore I caddied for the winner of the Pa. State Amateur Championship. I made quite a bit of money caddying. I also found a job working at the corner grocery store during the winter, stocking shelves and delivering groceries. Working became more important to me than going to school. I skipped quite a few classes my senior year.So what happens now? The Vietnam War was starting to really heat up and several of my classmates from High School were killed in the war. I applied and got accepted to LaSalle College. Luckily I received a scholarship from the J Wood Platt Caddy Scholarship Program. If it were not from them and their founder C. J. Burnett, I would probably have been drafted.But even in college, keeping up with school work was extremely difficult. My parents were still battling nightly and since I was a commuter student and still living at home, studying became a nightmare.I tried to keep working my freshman year and that didn’t work out so well my first semester. So I stopped doing that and my grades improved. I would spend as much time on campus as I could.I continued to caddy and work other jobs when classes let out. My approach in college pretty much followed what I had done in high school. I pretty much kept to myself,still believing that if nobody noticed me, i would survive. I started out majoring in English and then changed to History. I was advised to major in accounting but I didn’t listen to anyone, trusting nobody. That would become my major problem in life.I had grown to trust nobody. I didn’t trust my parents. After the abuse, I didn’t trust anyone in authority, especially anyone connected to the Catholic Church.Somehow I managed to get through my first three years of college. My grades were average but considering everything I was dealing with,it could have been worse.After I turned twenty one, I started drinking. In the beginning my drinking was pretty much just social drinking.In the summer, I would drink after caddying with some of my fellow caddies.When I entered senior year at LaSalle, I got an apartment off campus.I really could not afford it but I could no longer live with my parents. I would have gone crazy. Soon I started working again at Fidelity Bank in Center City. Back then ,computers were just beginning to be used. My job along with many other college students was to prepare information from cards to be entered into a computer.The Computer took up a full room. I would go from school to work. After work I would go home, stopping at a local neighborhood bar.My grades suffered again and I did not graduate with my class. While working at Fidelity, I was offered a full time job as a computer operator trainee. Only two of us were offered this position out of twenty workers. Of course I turned it down. I didn’t realize then what a new world the world of computers would become.I had nobody I could trust to go to for advice. I did manage to graduate from LaSalle in 1972 with a degree in History. A lot of good that would do me.

  21. When I graduated from college, the job market was atrocious. I guess I could have gone to grad school but my grades were not very good and I really had no source of income.I had drawn a fairly high number in the draft lottery so there wasn’t much of a chance I would be drafted. I finally took a job working for the PLCB in a State liquor store. I worked there for fourteen years advancing to store manager. I even interviewed for a position as a store supervisor.Less than a year later I would leave the PLCB after a dispute with a supervisor.In 1976 I married my wife. We are still together although sometimes I wonder how she put up with me all these years. Like most childhood abuse survivors, I struggle with trust issues. I also suffer with intimacy issues. We have two adult children. I also have two grandchildren. From the time I was twenty one til the age of thirty eight, I drank excessively. I drank almost every day. I could not even begin to count the number of blackouts I suffered during those seventeen years. I drank before parties during parties and after parties. If alcohol wasn’t being served, I didn’t want to go. I was someone growing up who swore I would never drink. And here I was a full blown alcoholic. I can’t tell you it was because of the abuse. alcoholism definitely ran in my family. My father was an alcoholic. So was his father.The disease goes way back.But I do know that alcohol helped me cope with the damage that had been done.At the age of thirty eight,I went to a therapist recommended by the Employee Assistance Agency where I worked. He wanted me to go into a rehab right away. I refused and told him I was willing to stop drinking but no rehab. Looking back, I realize I would have been much better off if I had gone to rehab. But I was not able to trust enough to do it then. I did stop drinking and attended AA for almost two years.That was some twenty eight years ago. To this day I have not touched a drop of alcohol. I continued in therapy for two years. At the age of forty I was in group therapy at the Pennsylvania Institute in West Philadelphia. The therapy was for sexual addiction. One of the people in my group was a Catholic priest. A short time into the therapy while I was abstaining from any sexual activity, the memories of the abuse came back to me. It was horrible. I felt like I was twelve again and the abuse had just happened. But the memories were a god send. Finally, I was able to put the pieces of my life back together again. I finally knew the reasons that I acted the way I had. I finally knew why I felt the way I felt.It was not sexual addiction that made me do some of the things I did, but sexual abuse.

  22. I still suffer from depression. I take anti depressants that keep it in check. Several times I have tried to stop taking the anti depressants. I don’t like to take any drugs. But I know I need to take them. For most of my adult life I have had suicidal thoughts. They rarely happen anymore. For that I am grateful. I decided to write down a shortened story of my life. I am sure that I have left out some important things. This may seem to be a very sad story. But there are many sex abuse stories that are much sadder than mine.There are way too many stories that ended in death. Death by suicide, death by drug overdose. The sexual abuse of children is a sad story. At times it seems like the Bishops and Archbishops of the Church could care less. I was an altar boy. As a young boy I even thought about becoming a priest. I stopped going to Church as a teenager.I have never gone back.The last time I was in a Catholic Church was when my mother, a very devout Catholic woman died. I don’t plan on going back. The last time I was in any Church was when my granddaughter was baptized. About half way through the ceremony, I suffered a flashback. I became convinced my grand daughter was at risk. I stopped myself from attacking the Lutheran minister. When my grandson was baptized, I chose not to attend.

    • Dear Jim,
      Thank you so much for telling your story. Each story may echo similarities of the pedophile/abuser, but each shows the unique response of every victim-survivor. I see on the other posts that you have been following events in PA. Your story sheds unique light. Your story is exactly WHY we need SOL reform and the value of a look back window. This notion that victims can “forget it”… “is just fantasy land. The Church’s idea that it is all somehow “in the past” is meritless. It only takes one act of violation to set a child’s life on a different, and darker, course. Your story highlights how folks need time to even understand THEMSELVES what has happened, not to mention find the courage to come forward. And all that time… the abusers just keep abusing. A retroactive window for civil claims could help expose some of those perpetrators and help get them out of circulation. As suzpt has pointed out on another page, this could literally save hundreds of people from the pain you have suffered. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I wish you peace.

      • E Williams: Thank you for your support. I always knew that I was not alone. There was another boy with me when I was abused. But as a victim of clergy abuse I had no idea that this happened to so many kids for a very long period of time .It is staggering that clerical abuse was so widespread in the Catholic Church. Many of the kids were very much like me, the” throwaway kids” as Lisa Richette used to call them. Some would call many of us vulnerable. And we were. Just like wolves go after the weakest and most vulnerable, so did these priests do the same. On another site that I post on[The National Catholic Reporter] a supporter of the Church questioned whether it was fair to pass SOL legislation, being that many of the priests were dead, the memories of those abused were fuzzy and the paper trail was no longer there.This person obviously never suffered from a traumatic event. The memories are indelibly sketched on your brain.They will never go away.

        • Jim, I am sorry for everything you have gone thru. Because of your story and other survivors on this site that have educated me in addition to knowing predator priests from the grand jury report were stationed at my grade school and high school I feel a moral obligation to fight for our survivors and for protection of all children. I want to thankyou for sharing your story even though it must be difficult because it really has made a difference.

          • Beth: It was so nice to meet you, Vicky and Suzpt last week on the steps to the State Capital. I have always greatly admired you for your efforts on behalf of those of us who were sexually abused. Some times I have wondered to myself why would somebody who was not abused or had a family member abused do all that you have done or fight as you have fought for the likes of me.I keep thinking back to the ideals that were instilled in me as a young Catholic boy.The Christian ideals that have somehow been lost by those in the hierarchy seem to still inspire you. That love of neighbor that seems to have been lost on many in the pews is still practiced by you .I am truly grateful. After our meeting last week.I decided to tell my story. I have shared bits and pieces of my story on this site. If it is of any help to other victims/survivors, that is great. But to be honest, I did it more for myself. Like many others who post here. the thoughts of writing a book have passed through my mind.But as I age, I realize that this was not likely to happen.So I decided to tell my story here.

  23. Thank you Jim for allowing us to see how you were emotionally tormented. It appears you were depressed and alienated from yourself and others, going from bad to worse. It appears your depression was so intense you unconsciously inhibit myself from having any kind of meaningful desire. It feels like you did not want to hurt anymore, especially having desires and expectations for yourself. It appears the result was a sudden total blockage of feelings, as if life had suddenly been drained from you. It appears you became fatigued, apathetic, alienated from yourself and others, even sinking into an emotional paralysis, and at times unable to function at all.

    I am so sorry Jim it has been so difficult to exert yourself. I am so sorry for those times you felt depressed and on the verge of becoming more depressed. I am so sorry you knew only with the greatest difficultly could you keep yourself from going under emotionally. I am sorry how you had to experience the inner light going out and the fear it never could be rekindled. I am deeply sorrowful you had to experience life as futile and dying. I am sorry you had to feel extremely distraught, unable to shake yourself from it and the feelings of hopelessness plaguing you. You have been violently tormented Jim and my words fall into silence from your intense inner suffering.

    I want to say I appreciate you trusting us with your experience and trusting us to feel how you felt pathetic. I appreciate your realistic faith in yourself, where you appear to no longer be reactive, but mature, and your own person. I appreciate you finding your own value without reference to anything or anyone. I appreciate your courage, allowing the deepest feelings to emerge and still holding faith in yourself. I appreciate your trust and the emotional security it is offering you now. I appreciate you speaking for yourself and needing no apology.

    The drinking and the isolation is the same response I made from my parents abusing me. I felt I was in a war zone, wet the bed for 39 years, and after ten years in AA I started digging deeply into this childhood pain. Damn stuff took me back down into this crushing negative self-consciousness. The next five years I wanted to welcome death as to merge with nothingness and to do away with the painful self-consciousness. I can remember my ultimate act of withdraw would be suicide, an aggressive act, and my way of inflicting suffering on others. However, like you Jim, AA gave me enough relief I started acting on principles rather than my moods. AA also gave me the courage to act without reference to my feelings and helped to free me from my tug of self-absorption.

    Your story and painful experience is important because within it you awaken me to trust. Your important quality awakens me to bring good out of evil, hope from hopelessness, meaning from absurdity and saving what appeared to be lost. Also you are with quality, rebuilding your trust, which appears to allow you to filter all this raw material. I thank you Jim for your courage and finding your true authority within you. Because of you and your writing it all offers me a certain peace, as the war is over and my needing to hide is over.

    Peace to you Jim and your presence is significant!

  24. Syd: Thank you for your thoughtful response. I have often wondered if people who were not victims of abuse as a child really understand what happens to a child after the abuse .It really doesn’t matter if the abuse is sexual or not. Any abuse causes changes in brain chemistry. I recently attended a forum on clergy sex abuse. One of the other survivors had a very difficult time putting two sentences together. She was abused at a very young age and was taking heavy duty psych medicines. I felt so sorry for her. My own story is bad enough. But really the effects on me were less horrible than many others. I was only molested once. Some kids were molested over and over again. One of the reason I posted my story was to give people some kind of idea about what happens to one survivor after abuse. There are thousands of survivor’s stories that are more horrid than mine. Some of those victims are no longer with us. I have no doubt that the priest targeted me because of my vulnerability. My father was an alcoholic. My mother was overwhelmed with seven children[the only acceptable form of birth control as established by her Church was the rhythm method]. I believe the other altar boy came from the same kind of family. The priest who molested us made up the schedule for who was serving at each Mass. But with all the horrible effects, I was able to survive .I overcame addictions. There is hope for all of us.

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