I've been a member of this site for some time, but haven't really taken the time to explore the full menu of its offerings. It is a great resource.
I was sexually abused by a Catholic priest. This abuse started when I was 13 and lasted 3 years when I eventually found the courage to repel his manipulations.
My story is not unlike most others who have been sexually victimized. In fact I'd say my story is a text book example. I was groomed and manipulated. My abuser was a very close, trusted friend of my family. He leveraged the unquestioned trust my family extended to him as a close friend, but more importantly the trust extended to him as a priest. He was masterful in assigning guilt to me and shaming me with the threats of revealing my terrible behaviors to our family patriarch, and beloved uncle, who was himself a priest, but a good, honest, sincere priest whom all in my family loved and adored. This was the power my abused held over me. As a boy I couldn't stand the thoughts of my uncle learning about my terrible behaviors.
I knew enough to take advantage of counseling services during my college and grad school years. I'm glad I had the sense to participate in counseling because it provided me valuable understanding about my experiences, and ultimately provided me the stability to move on. Additional career training educated me to the behaviors of sexual offenders and more, and I learned I was not likely the only victim of my abuser's behavior. Now understanding this, I was compelled to take action.
I met with my bishop and told him my story. My bishop's initial reaction was disturbing, but he ultimately promised to investigate my claims and take appropriate action. My abuser admitted to the abuse and was removed from ministry with a personal promise to me by my bishop that this priest would never again work with youth.
I was asked to participate in a series of interviews with the professional staff providing inpatient treatment services for my abuser. The counselors explained having my victim statements and insights into my abuser's behavior patterns would be helpful. I did participate in these interviews and found them very useful in my own growth as I moved passed the experiences. I believed it was my obligation to do everything I could to help prevent other youth from suffering abuse by this priest. Agreeing to the interviews was one way to help.
In the immediate years following my meeting with my bishop, and the subsequent removal of my abuser from ministry, I would periodically check to make sure my abuser was not in a position to work with youth. After several years of verifying this I stopped checking and more or less closed this chapter of my life only to learn years later that my abuser was reassigned to teaching in a diocesan catholic high school.
Learning this caused turmoil for me. I again felt betrayed and marginalized. Without hesitation I requested a meeting with the now new bishop of my diocese, but this time I went into the meeting with specific expectations. I fully intended to act as promised if these expectations were not executed as agreed, and my terms were simple. It was my expectation that my abuser be permanently removed from ministry and that a full review of all priestsí personnel files is executed and any priest with credible allegations be processed in accordance with civil and church laws. I was clear with my bishop that if these two expectations were not executed I would request a meeting with the local newspaper to tell my story.
This new bishop was a gem. Unlike his predecessor, he listened before speaking, and when he did speak he offered words of apology and regret. He clearly understood the depth of pain and suffering a child experiences when sexually victimized. My bishop gave me his word that by day's end my abuser would be permanently removed from ministry. My bishop personally assured me that by week's end every personnel jacket on every priest in the diocese, whether active or inactive in ministry, would be reviewed and appropriate actions taken per my request. My bishop lived up to his word and did as promised. My bishop personally called me the next day to tell me my abuser was removed from ministry, and the following week newspapers throughout the diocese reported the names of 12 priests removed the previous week from ministry and further reported on the diocese's plans for further action to protect youth. I was satisfied and relieved. I was also sad that my church had to once again endure the burden cast upon it by the actions of a few depraved and unholy men.
For the most part my diocese has been exemplary in its efforts to prevent further instances of abuse of its members. Other cases of abuse surfaced in subsequent years, but my diocese responds appropriately and in accordance with civil and church laws. Now a new bishop oversees my diocese and I'm tremendously impressed by his sensitivity the problem. In recent cases of priests being removed for sexual abuse of minors my bishop travels to the parish where this priest last resided prior to removal, and without reservation the bishop speaks at all weekend masses telling the congregation precisely why the priest was removed. This is exemplary leadership by this bishop because it provides the opportunity for other victims of abuse at the hands of the priest to hear likely for the first time that they, the victims, are not alone, and we all know the value of learning we're not alone.
I choose to place emphasis on the church aspect of my story because I'd like to speak with other victims of clergy abuse. I struggle at times with my spirituality and wonder if my thinking and feelings are consistent with others who are victims of clergy abuse.
Thank you for taking time to read my story. Please know I'm open to discussing any aspect of my story as a victim of clergy sexual abuse. I believe I have much to offer. I'll simply tell you if there is something I am uncomfortable discussing.
Cheers to all,
Edited by motmcd (08/05/13 07:03 PM)