Abuse 'Just Became a Part of My Life'
By Marco R. della Cava
July 24, 2002
WHO: Melissa Price WHERE: New Port Richey, Fla.
ABUSED: From 8 to 16 ABUSER: Price has filed criminal charges against the priest who allegedly assaulted her; he is thought to be in the Philippines.
Melissa Price grew up a happy and carefree little girl on the Gulf Coast of sun kissed Florida.
And then she turned 8.
"It was the worst year of my life," Price, 31 says.
Her grandfather died. Her parents divorced. Then poverty drove the remaining family -- Melissa, her mother, brother and grandmother -- into a mobile home.
There seemed to be only one source of comfort: the increasingly frequent presence of a Filipino priest, Polienato Bernabe.
He had come to the Price home to console the deeply Roman Catholic family. He would stay connected to the clan for the next eight years. Not as family counselor, she says, but as her rapist.
"A few times over the years I told people about the abuse, but nothing happened," she says. "I felt helpless and beaten, and it just became a part of my life."
When she was 8, Bernabe "told me he was going to teach me a new way to kiss, and that I had to open my mouth."
Price told her mother, who confronted the priest. He "explained it away, claiming 'cultural differences.' " A few months later, intercourse.
The visits were weekly, dinner followed by TV "alone in my Mom's room."
Age 12: A three-week trip to the Philippines, alone with Bernabe. "There I saw a photo of him with another young girl," she says. "I knew then I wasn't his first."
Only at 16, after an older boyfriend confronted the priest, did Price break free.
But the damage was done. Though an honors student in high school, she has yet to complete her college degree. "It's like I sabotage my life any time I get close to success," she says.
And although she has never lacked for relationships, none last. She has been engaged three times. "I look for emotionally unavailable men, but I'm emotionally unavailable. I can't trust anyone."
But things are changing. In March, after 15 years of struggling with the crippling wounds of guilt and low self-esteem that led to a suicide attempt, Price went to the police in St. Petersburg and told her story.
"It was tough to go back" to that time in her life, she says softly. "I've had nightmares recently. Once I even felt the pain of that first penetration. But as a child I had no voice, so now I feel like I've given one to that little girl in me."
Price came forward after seeing media reports about clerical abuse that made her realize she was not alone. But another motivator was her 2-year-old daughter.
"I need to be a stronger person, for her," Price says. "My daughter will not have the life I had."
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
money guide of hospital products guide of international market guide of repair roof before winter guide of website income guide of secure your business guide of face makeup tools guide of jewellery arts guide of tv shows guide of best places on earth guide of job plans guide of cheap cars guide of creating products guide of women tools guide of eat less guide of car insurance process guide of sport stuff guide of garden home guide of cheap insurances guide of electronic tech guide of healthy feeding guide of what is next in fashion guide of improve company guide of tactical insurance guide of make money at home guide of development in business guide of dept loan guide of cooking secrets guide of correct companies guide of jobs with more income guide of reviews o general products guide of improving technology guide of ideal job guide of business sectors guide of dept problem guide of unlimited business guide of suitable insurance company guide of money cars guide of how to market guide of heatlhy diet tips guide of decoration tipse guide of security problems