Organization Hopes to Help Victims of Church Abuse

KCRG-TV9 [Cedar Rapids IA]
May 3, 2004

Two eastern Iowans are working to heal themselves by helping others. They're part of an organization called S.N.A.P., it stands for the "Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests." The group started just a month ago in eastern Iowa to help promote personal healing among abuse victims. And Sunday, the co-founders hit the streets with flyers during morning mass.

As members of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Marion were attending mass Sunday morning, pink flyers were being left on their cars outside. The work is being done by Steve Theisen and Heather Smith, both victims of sexual abuse at a young age.

Heather was abused at age eight and just came forward in January of this year. She told TV9, "From the time I was 18 until now this has been a reoccurring issue in my life. A difficult struggle to overcome. Very emotional and painful, very painful." But Heather says being a part of this organization has brought her the most healing.

By passing out the flyers they're not only reaching out to others who may be living in secret, but say they're pushing for Archbishop Jerome Hanus to be honest. Steve Theisen told TV9, "If he would provide the names of all who have credible accusations, living or dead because the victims are still alive. More victims would come forward and have a chance to heal."

They're also doing this in Marion to spread the word that a local snap group is forming in town. Already groups exist in Waterloo, Dubuque and Mason City. The main goal, creating a network of healing.

Both Steve and Heather say the response has been positive. Even Sunday morning they found another victim of abuse and they hope more will come forward as their healing message is spread.

The group will hold monthly meetings in Marion, beginning May 10th at 6:30. For more information, you can call S.N.A.P. at 319-231-1663.

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