Road to Recovery
Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D
Pope Benedict XVI has given indications that he is finally “getting it” regarding clergy sexual abuse. During his recent trip to Portugal, he boldly and correctly concluded that the clergy sexual abuse scandal of the Roman Catholic Church is rooted not in covert or overt attacks from the media, survivors of abuse, lawyers, or any other group, but in the “sins’ of those in the Church. The abuse and its cover-up are rooted in the internal dynamics, policies, and personalities of the Church itself, and it behooves the Church at this time to begin implementing practices and procedures that focus on restorative justice for the victims.
In 2003, a priest colleague, Father Ken Lasch of the Paterson, New Jersey, diocese, and I were so moved and disturbed by the stories and plights of clergy abuse survivors that we founded an organization that would deliver direct services to them. Besides the obvious symptoms of guilt, shame, depression, anxiety and a host of other life-long effects that result from the sexual abuse endured by these men and women when they were children, we noticed that many (most) victims we deal with have difficulty holding jobs, entering into and maintaining relationships, renting apartments and houses, keeping their families in food and clothing, and essentially surviving from day to day.
Road to Recovery, Inc., the non-profit organization that Father Lasch and I founded, is the only organization in the United States (perhaps in the world) that provides victims of clergy sexual abuse with financial and other direct aid to help them recover from the ordeal of sexual abuse. Currently, we help dozens of victims with their medical, psychological, spiritual, and financial needs even though we are a simple operation with a skeleton staff and limited resources. Thanks to many faithful and generous Catholics and non-Catholics, we continue to help victims with their everyday needs such as food, clothing, doctor visits, rent, travel, and medicine. In a few cases, we have freed clergy abuse survivors from prison and started them on their roads to recovery.” Since 2003, Road to Recovery has worked with well over one thousand victims and their families. After all, sexual abuse of a child becomes a family tragedy and scandal, not just one that is inflicted on the child. Whole families are affected, and whole families need healing.