Victim No More

There is something important I want to share with you.

I am a victim of sexual abuse. As a child, I was abused three different times, by three different people. When you are a victim of such an atrocity, it is difficult to find value in yourself. How I viewed myself, fulfilled my role as a wife and mother, and created friendships, was largely affected by my past wounds. It was difficult to get close to people, and I was overprotective of the ones I really cared about. My wounds remained fresh and painful for many years. I thought if I just gave it some time, they would scab over and heal, but they didn’t.  So, I went through many years of suffering. Therapy didn’t help. Being alone didn’t help. Covering it up and pretending it never happened didn’t help. Companionship with other victims didn’t help. Finally, there was one thing that did! Prayer with God, my heavenly father and protector, and participating in the sacraments of the Catholic Church.

Isn’t it interesting? The one place that is receiving so much scrutiny for its cases of sexual abuse was the only place that could heal my wounds. You can imagine the confusion and sadness I have been feeling this year. So many Catholics are choosing to abandon the Church because a few of their fellow members made sinful decisions. Yes, justice needs to be served - what they did was inexcusable. But, it feels like the Church is being judged more harshly than other institutions. Is that my own perception? Did the faith fail them? Or did a few representatives of that faith fail them?

Priests and deacons are given a great responsibility in the Church, but aren’t we all? Why do we judge them more harshly? We are all members of the same body. Perhaps the current scandal reminds those who leave of their own wound. It is easy to be angry at God when things do not go right in our life. Personally, I was angry at him for a while, because I felt he should have protected me. I told God all of this in prayer, and he explained that while it happened, he cried too – he cried for me, and cried for those who hurt me because they denied him. Does this resonate with you? Was there a time when you felt God didn’t protect you?

I’ve also learned during this time of healing that avoidance doesn’t heal – communication does. Prayer with God and communication with the church, your family, will comfort and heal your wounds. Do not leave your family. Do not run away. We love you and want to help you. Come back home so we can comfort you through this difficult time, and to help you discover God’s healing love and mercy.