Therapy Trust for Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse

Healing and Spirituality
March 1, 2010

Over 15 years ago Ray Higgins discovered that his son had been sexually molested by Father Robert Van Handel, a Franciscan monk and former teacher and choirmaster at St. Anthony's Seminary. Since then, Ray Higgins and his wife Anne have been reaching out to victims of clergy sexual abuse and offering them free therapy. Today's guest blogger is Ray Higgins.

There are hundreds of victims of molestation by Roman Catholic clergy that have not been able to receive any therapy from the Church and have not received a monetary settlement. A vast majority of these are in dire need of therapy but are unable to afford it. Most have been so severely affected by what happened to them that they suffer from many ailments such as low self-esteem, anxiety, paranoia, relationship problems, etc. Many were never able to put their lives together enough to finish their education and therefore are limited to low paying jobs and long periods of unemployment. Some are unable to hold down a job and have been on welfare or unemployment for so long that they are no longer considered employable.

The purpose of this trust is to provide victims the help they need so that they can lead normal lives again. Although there are many needs, the trust feels that the most pressing need and the one that has the most potential for accomplishing that purpose is to pay for therapy for as many as possible. Recognizing that there are many other needs, we feel that the limited funds available can be put to the best use by paying for therapy for as many as possible.

Our goal is to make the application and approval process as non intrusive as possible while at the same time assuring that the funds are used to the best advantage by those who receive them. Many have approached their respective dioceses in an attempt to obtain help, only to be re-victimized. Some dioceses have stated that they have changed their policy and will provide therapy for victims who ask for it but most of those who have been re-victimized are afraid to approach their diocese because they had such a painful experience in the past.

Here is our procedure for paying for therapy for as many as possible:

1. Victim applies by email or postal service

2. Trust sends a packet explaining the purpose of the trust and an application along with a Therapist Questionnaire form for the proposed therapist.

3. Application of victim is approved or disapproved by the board of directors at a meeting in which at least one of the therapists is present.

4. Notice of approval sent to victim and therapist.

• Amount of therapy granted and procedure to be followed.

• Normally, two years of therapy would be provided

• Trust billed by therapist on a monthly basis.

• Payment made directly to therapist.

5. Rules for Client.

• Therapy must be taken seriously and on a regular basis.

• Therapy will be discontinued if sessions are missed without good reason.

6. Rules for Therapist.

• Trust to be notified if client is not cooperating.

• Trust will not pay for no-shows.

• Brief periodic report of progress.

• Trust will not reimburse for therapy provided before Therapist Questionnaire has been approved.

7. Requirements for therapist.

• Licensed

• Insured

• Education and experience in treating problems associated with childhood sexual abuse.

• Experience in treating the unique problems of victims of clergy sexual abuse desirable but not required.


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