ver since 2002, we’ve known that many have been suffering horribly, because their priests or preachers had molested them when they were young, and now are looking for some way to see how that isn’t the whole world, that most people aren’t to be feared.  Yet even before 2002, many knew about the damage that this can do.  An article from 1985 about pedo-priest Gilbert Gauthé, “The Tragedy of Gilbert Gauthe,” by Jason Berry, says, “National experts interviewed by The Times are unanimous in saying children victimized by molestation need help....  Dr. David Finkelhor of the University of New Hampshire, author of two books on child sexual abuse, told The Times: ‘It is important to stress that the facts of sexual abuse can be severe—depression, flashbacks, suicide attempts, psychosis.  Long-term impacts are inevitable for everybody.’”  Those who weren’t aware of this, were those who didn’t want to be, and had the power not to be.  Even then, the insensitivity was limited to those who were just too wrapped up in dogma that told them that sensitiveness would be unconstructive regarding what “really matters.”  Now that they’re free to do what’s right, they will.

In the Portland Catholic Diocese, which has recently started bankruptcy proceedings, one of the survivors in mediation just shot himself to death, since he was so in need of counseling.  Therefore, this webpage is to let those who were abused, know that people out there care about them.  A lot of people out there would support them, without charging anything as psychotherapists would.  Some of these people had been abused themselves, so they understand what it’s like.  You could meet them at a meeting of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, even if your abuser wasn’t a priest.  Others who’d give you support, simply care.  This is to let the survivors know how much others care, how natural it is to care.  A convent in Tennessee even specializes in praying for all those sexually abused by any clergy.

Those who’d want to add their messages of support to abuse survivors can e-mail them to me, and I could add them here.  I’d like this to express the support of many people.  Let me know if you’d want me to include your name, e-mail address, or anything else you might include in your e-mail.

Being abused by a minister, especially one who works for a hierarchy, could leave one questioning how confident he really could be.  The organization may act as if it has the right to its members’ trust, to transfer molesting ministers to new parishes, etc.  Yet when it comes to taking responsibility for their choices, they could be very equivocal unless the law makes them.    This could indeed lead the survivors to feel helpless.  Also, science has established that major traumas during childhood actually make long-term changes in the brain.  The earlier that the trauma happens, the more likely this is to make big changes in the brain.  Naturally this would lead to some profound hopelessness.

Yet the flaws in the leaders’ choices to keep coddling the abusers, could be prevented in the future.  Since the time at which someone has to take moral responsibility for something he did is usually after he did it, those who want to evade responsibility could say, “Now I’m completely helpless to turn back the clock and undo what I did, so right now, I’m the helpless one.”  Also, if his destructive choices were reckless rather than malicious, holding him responsible could seem even more overcritical.  Yet the dangers in accepting such limitless excuses, should be obvious.

For some reason, before the mid-1980s, many didn’t take the laws against sexual abuse of children seriously.  The chapter about how crimes committed by the poor are taken more seriously than crimes committed by anyone else, of William Ryan’s classic book Blaming the Victim, begins with a description of a meeting between members of some citizens’ groups including Ryan’s wife, and Melvin Adams, redevelopment manager of New Haven, to protest the lax enforcement of the housing code.  She brought up how flexible was its enforcement, as versus how much those living in the slums don’t get any flexibility from the laws on blue-collar crime.  Adams responded by saying, “The... ha!  But the... there are law violations and there are law violations.”  She responded by saying, “Right!”

Before 1984, many figured that we needn’t take seriously the laws against sexual abuse of children, when the abusers had a status that seemed sacred.  Sure, this was limited to certain subcultures.  The Australian group Broken Rites, has on its website an article which says, “Child abuse has long been a crime, and the crime is compounded if the victim is intellectually disadvantaged and if the offender is in a custodial role.  However, religious superiors have usually treated their colleagues’ sexual offences as a moral lapse, not a crime.”  Elsewhere, anything that could be called “child abuse,” was taken seriously.

Yet if either a minister or a parent was guilty, it seemed that the virtuous thing to do was for the guilty one to say he’ll try to change his ways, and the victims to forgive him.  True vindication would have seemed vindictive.  Most of the time that someone is being held morally responsible for something, it would have happened in the past, so it could seem only natural to forgive him and keep the peace.  These same religious organizations have, for decades, tried to save marriages from divorce, even those in which one spouse was committing crimes within the family, including child abuse.  If this same organization believes greatly in forgiveness, it may be too easy to figure that the abusers should be forgiven.  When the forgiveness described in I Corinthians 13:5, “...[love] keeps no record of wrongs,” works, it works like nothing else could, but plenty of people would take advantage of that lack of accountability.  And this could get very dangerous in authoritarian organization, where some people get that permissiveness, and others aren’t permitted to resist.

Prayers that appeared on the website of the New Hampshire Diocese, on August 28, 2005, included a request to pray for reconciliation with those “who have been in leadership roles and have unwittingly allowed” sexual abuse to happen.  That might sound like a big euphemism for dangerous negligence.  Yet the same could be said for all the times that any religious leaders told their parishioners to stay married to spouses who were committing crimes within their families, and kept right on committing them.  That unwittingly allowed the crimes to continue, so that wasn’t malicious.  And reconciliation sounds both forgiving and well-adjusted.

Especially those in religious organizations that would condemn “concupiscence,” or sexual desire, in general, would figure that pedophilia is just relatively different.  Sure abuse was against the law, but there are law violations and there are law violations.  In general, plenty of factors were pushing these organizations’ decision-making toward forgiving, and therefore trusting, the abusers.  And those decisions seemed to have the authority of God.

It’s all too easy to destroy, so most of the time, most criminals wouldn’t seem to be as bad as the crimes they committed.  Therefore, most of the time, they’d seem so normal that forgiving them could seem to be the right thing to do.  If an organization is one that routinely tells the wives of men who tend to commit the same crime within their own families, to save the marriages by forgiving it, this forgiveness could seem only natural.  You could see the public outcry against Bernard Law’s continuing to respect John Geoghan in 1996.  On December 12, 1996, Law sent Geoghan a letter granting him retirement status, saying, “The Passion we share can indeed seem unbearable and unrelenting.  We are our best when we respond in honesty and trust.  God bless you, Jack.”  Since by “The Passion we share” Law probably didn’t mean that he has pedophile desires, this is the old “concupiscence” theme from the Dark Ages, which obviously most people can’t accept.

Now, many know the realities of surviving child abuse.  One of the dedications of the book Why Do I Feel Guilty When I’ve Done Nothing Wrong?, by Ty C. Colbert, Ph.D., copyright 1993, says, “To the abused and the children of dysfunctional families who have come forward in the last few years, opening their hearts and teaching my profession about the destructive effects of guilt and shame.”  And that self-blame is something that plagues the survivors of any child abuse.  Self-blame regarding oneself being hurt, is very common in modern Western cultures.  People who had experiences or feelings that would naturally cause fear, end up feeling shame and self-blame.  Intercultural studies have consistently found that depressed people who’ve lived in developed areas outside of the modern West have tended to feel paranoid, but modern Westerners, whether depressed or not, tend to figure that even if someone did “get you,” that would mean only that you lost the battle so you’re a loser.  Taming the Tyrant, Treating Depressed Adults, by Dr. Dean Schuyler, says, “In the 1970s, Roth, et al. found ‘inappropriate guilt’ associated as often with anxiety syndromes as with depression, raising questions about its specificity.”  Many who grew up with alcoholic parents, easily feel self-blame and low self-esteem, as if, if only they were better kids, their parents would have stopped drinking.  Those who were sexually abused as children are no different.  But the truth is that you had as little control over what the abuser did to you, as alcoholics’ children have over whether they drank.  That wasn’t your fault in any possible way.

 

 

 

Modern Western guilt and self-blame, tends to be along the lines of “You’re personally responsible for dealing with and overcoming whatever you must. If you aren’t adequate to do this, lose the battle, fail, and come up short with big consequences, you’d seem to be an irresponsible and inadequate, loser and failure with very consequential shortcomings,” rather than “You’re morally responsible for that.”  One example of this is what FBI expert on the psychology of molesters, Kenneth V. Lanning, described in Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis, “One of the unfortunate outcomes of society’s preference for the ‘stranger-danger’ concept has a direct impact on the investigation of many acquaintance-exploitation cases.  It is what I call, ‘say no, yell, and tell’ guilt.  This is the result of societal attitudes and prevention programs that tell potential child victims to avoid sexual abuse by saying no, yelling, and telling.  This might work with the stranger lurking behind a tree.  Children who are seduced and actively participate in their victimization, however, often feel guilty and blame themselves because they did not do what they were ‘supposed’ to do.”

Those molested by any authority figure, would feel a moral obligation to do as he says, and maybe a moral obligation not to offend their parents by telling them.  Afterward, if they feel guilty because they didn’t yell and tell, the fact that they submitted because of moral obligations would seem to matter absolutely nothing.  It seems that the victims were to blame because they were too weak, irrespective of any moral motives.  This indirect and tenuous blame that’s based on supposed inadequacies, is what modern Western self-blame usually consists of.  That has nothing to do with true guiltiness.  The Philadelphia Grand Jury Report says that one man, molested decades ago, broke out in tears many times as he told the Grand Jury about his abuse, so he was willing to do this for the sake of protecting other kids in the future.  Yet he said that he felt “more than a fair amount of self-hatred and self-recrimination” about his being abused, though the molester was the loathsome criminal.  The report says about this survivor and his abused brothers, “no one dared tell their Irish immigrant parents who had brought the boys up to be in ‘awe’ of priests.”

The Grand Jury Report also says about someone else, “He blamed himself for Fr. Rogers’ sexual attacks and hated himself as a result.  Like other abuse victims, Russell decided ‘it must have been something I did to make him do these things to me.’  Father Rogers had chosen his victim well; young Russell wanted to make his father proud of him and saw his family’s pride in the attention Fr. Rogers paid him.  These factors likely created a very strong pressure on the boy not to report the priest’s abuse.”  This reason for self-blame, “it must have been something I did to make him do these things to me,” could have just as easily come from those who grew up in dysfunctional homes, that if only they were more lovable, the problem parents would have loved them enough to stop the problems.  The Report also says about other men abused as boys, “He said he was embarrassed because he felt what Msgr. Furmanski had done was his fault,” and, “He told Msgr. Lynn and Fr. Mesure that ‘for many years he felt a great deal of guilt.’  He explained that he felt trapped and unable to escape the relationship because of the priest’s friendship with his whole family,” and that another man “felt angry and guilty about the relationship.”  Also, Our Fathers by David France, says about a lawyer who represents the male victims of a pedo-priest, “He couldn’t remember how many times he had to say to them, ‘It’s not your fault, what are you feeling so guilty about?’.”  Obviously all these men don’t think that, inadvertently, they came across as sexy to their abusers....

It might do you some good to volunteer for a charity, since then you could meet plenty of good-hearted people.  This could really show you that the whole world isn’t like the abusers, or those who forgave them with such insensitivity.  Most people are very aware of what’s wrong with sexual abuse, especially abuse that occurs in organizations that expect their members to conform to the forgiveness.  This would also let you meet others who have a values system that’s based on choices to treat others well, rather than the values system of self-blame for involuntary weakness.

 

 

 

~Sharen      

 

 

 

(My homepage, which begins with some Sturm und Drang)

 

            

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 Home Page

 About Us, Introduction

About Us, the Summary

 About Us, Index

My Story

  Top of The [Abuse] Survivors

Men Dying for Love

On Doping

Oh, Yeah?” Upbeat Echoes from the First Great Stock Market Crash

Victim Correction as a Panacea, the Summary (Page 1)

(Page 2)(Main Page 3)

Cancer Victims Corrected Too

The Main Victim Correction as a Panacea

 Documentation On the Social Problem of Unnaturally Rampant Depression

 Standard Rationales for Victim Correction as a Panacea

 Schopenhauer on Predators

 Emphasis on Victim-Self-Blaming

Darwinist Lehman Brothers’ INSIDE Sales Tips

Darwinist Lehman Brothers’ INSIDE Introduction to Management Book

Out of the Same Mold as the Great Crash of 2008

Message for Intellectuals in the Islamic World

Candace Newmaker’s Experience

Breaking Important Confidences for Your Own Good

A Glimpse Into the Soul of Victim Correction

Cigarette Industry and Victim Correction

Niebuhr’s Ideas on Our Nature and Destiny

Herbal Experiences for Women

Some Ideas for Rapport

Hotlinks