Tell Ruth the Truth

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Interview with a sexual abuse victim

Posted on Tuesday, March 05, 2019

1. Have you ever had flashbacks? PTSD symptoms?

I don’t think I had any flashback or classic PTSD symptoms. Though as a teen I misunderstood sleep paralysis and thought I was being attacked by demons and wondered if it was related. I also felt very uncomfortable in later years sleeping in the same bed where the abuse had happened as a child (in current terminology, that might be called triggering). At points, I questioned my own sexuality and I know my ability to form lasting relationships has been affected (I am over 50 and still single). In many ways I have overcome the effects of what happened, and I don’t like to dwell on it or use it to excuse my shortcomings. Still, I think it helps explain/understand some of them (including continued struggles with the common vices associated with the deadly sin of lust).

2. How does the public discussion of clergy sex abuse affect you emotionally?


 

I have very mixed feelings. I don’t want all clergy (much less the charism of Holy Mother Church) damaged by the actions of some. But, when a culture of corruption and coverup and complicit silence develops; it is hard to know who to trust. I am currently in spiritual direction with a retired bishop, and don’t know if I can even trust him to recognize the seriousness of all of this. I don’t know if he appreciates how hard it makes it to witness to my niece, nephews and godchildren about the beauty of the church.

3. How does the cover-up of clergy sex abuse affect you emotionally?

It angers me greatly, less because of my own abuse than because of my experience working with other survivors and because of the damage it does to the Church’s credibility in other areas.

4. Do you have anything specific you would like to say to Cardinal Mahony, or the LAREC organizers?

Sardonically: Get a damn clue?

Seriously: How can we maintain any credibility as a moral teacher when we celebrate and advance those acting with such blatant disregard for the truth and/or morality. It is not that forgiveness isn’t possible. It is that lack of repentance and lack of accountability is galling and makes us think no one cares.

5. Any of this information that you are willing to share, would give people the context that would help them understand:

5a. Your age when the abuse took place,

I’m not exactly sure, repeated occurrences somewhere between the ages of 4 and 8?

5b. Were you abused by someone you knew and trusted? Clergy? Coach? Relative?

An older brother.

5c. whether people believed you,

Generally, yes.

5d. how long it took for you to reveal what happened

I was probably college aged before I first started talking about it (so at least ten years, probably more).

5e. whether the Church treated you appropriately (if relevant to your story)

Not relevant, my brother had no church position at the time of my abuse. Interestingly however, my brother eventually spent several years in the seminary; but, the abuse happened long before then and I don’t think it was known to them. For whatever it is worth, he did not make it through until ordination (though he got close).

Submitted by Oliver.


 
 
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