The Garden of Roses: Stories of Abuse and Healing
In 2007, inspired by several survivors of Catholic clergy abuse I constructed a survey of survivor wants of needs related to healing. I received some positive support from survivors and advocates and an instructor of Social Work from PSU. I approached SNAP, therapists, the instructor of Social Work,, the media, and several clergy abuse lawyers but received little help in distributing and publicizing the survey. I had previously approached three Victim Assistants who worked for the Catholic Church and was essentially told to let professionals handle this. I attempted to work with the local Voice of the Fruitful and was told that I was too angry and hurt and drove people away.
I was hurt and angry. I was baptized Catholic along with my young children in 2001. After baptizing me, he proceeded to groom me and my 5 year old son although I have to stress that nothing bad ever happened. My son sat on the priests lap for almost 2 hours one time, but I and my daughter were present the whole time. I was aware that this was unusually familiar, but my son, who I had been told was on the autism spectrum, had severe separation anxiety and would only interact with about 6 adults other than me. I was happy to see that he was bonding with another adult. Church leadership knew about accusations of abuse against this priest for 20 years when this happened, but had never bothered to tell parishioners. If I had known about these accusations, I would not have entered that priests office with my children, but then, he probably wouldn’t have remained a priest if the accusations against him had been made public.
So even though no one in my family has been abused by a priest, we ended up in the middle of the clergy abuse scandal. When the priest was removed, forums were held. People were angry and hurt and divided between people who could not believe the severity of abuse the priest had perpetrated and those who could not understand people who would support a pedophile. I struggled, knowing that my private story cast doubt on the priest’s innocence. I remained silent even when a Youth Minister came forward with a story that cast even more doubt on the priest’s innocence. She was harassed so badly by other parishioners she left the Catholic Church. Who knows what would have happened if I had spoken out in the forum, but I needed time and space and support to come forward and ended up having to struggle mostly by myself to come to terms with what had happened. I formed a prayer group to support the priest, but I also researched the clergy abuse scandal on the internet. Eventually I read enough to firmly believe the survivors. I handed out newspaper articles about the clergy abuse scandal in my parish and was thrown out.
Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.