June 27, 2019
By Betsy Schindler
I opened the Baltimore Sun recently and saw a page of articles on childhood sexual abuse. Southern Baptist Church delegates were meeting in Birmingham, Ala., to begin addressing years of sexual abuse by pastors and youth ministers. And Catholic bishops were meeting in Baltimore to discuss the next steps in addressing the ongoing problem of decades of sexual abuse. I felt exhausted by the overwhelming evidence of abuse everywhere you look, but also hopeful that finally something can be done to prevent future abuse.
I attended the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse symposium in April, and there was much discussion of prevention, but also of the lifelong damage inflicted on survivors. It was estimated that survivors spend at least $300,000 in therapy over their lifetimes, but I was thinking of the personal cost to myself.
I thought about how things could have been different if my step grandfather had never entered our family. If my family had never attended two particular churches. I imagine I wouldn’t have temporarily dropped out of college because of an eating disorder. I would have still had student loans to pay off, but maybe I would have paid them off before the age of 50, because I wasn’t spending so much money on therapy and surviving.
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