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#443360 - 08/05/13 11:42 AM Howdy. I'm Tom
motmcd Offline


Registered: 08/15/12
Posts: 23
Loc: PA
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,
Tom




Edited by motmcd (08/05/13 03:03 PM)

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#443361 - 08/05/13 11:56 AM Re: Howdy. I'm Tom [Re: motmcd]
victor-victim Offline


Registered: 09/27/03
Posts: 3516
Loc: O Kanada
howdy, Tom.

thank you for taking time to write your story.
clergy abuse seems just that little bit extra offensive to me.
it seems somehow worse (although it isn't) than other forms of broken trust. to me.
one of the abuser's in my life was not clergy, but he sure preached a lot of jesus.
his hypocrisy kept me from pursuing spirituality for many years,
so religious abusers are like a double punch.

i am glad that you got decent results from the organization.
at least, their actions seemed to satisfy you.
that could have been another betrayal.

anyway, just wanted to welcome you to ms.org and i hope you find some good stuff here.
and some good people, too.
_________________________
Victor|Victim

War
Love
Poetry

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#443397 - 08/05/13 04:26 PM Re: Howdy. I'm Tom [Re: motmcd]
Chase Eric Offline
Moderator
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 1477
Tom -

It is an honor to know you. Few of us evolve to the point of effecting change in the world around us, changing things for the better outside of our own spheres. I think the greatest level of healing comes in realizing the empowerment of helping others as you have done.

How amazing it is that in an institute that is all about saving - whose focus is worshiped as a Savior - that you stepped in and helped them save even more.

Eirik
_________________________
Eirik




Click my pic to see why I'm here

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#443406 - 08/05/13 05:47 PM Re: Howdy. I'm Tom [Re: Chase Eric]
motmcd Offline


Registered: 08/15/12
Posts: 23
Loc: PA
Thanks, Erik, for your nice words. I appreciate what you said. I continue in my efforts to be socially active. I hope I'm making a difference.

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#443415 - 08/05/13 07:52 PM Re: Howdy. I'm Tom [Re: victor-victim]
motmcd Offline


Registered: 08/15/12
Posts: 23
Loc: PA
Thanks, v-v for the encouraging words. I appreciate you saying them.

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#443470 - 08/06/13 02:26 AM Re: Howdy. I'm Tom [Re: motmcd]
DavoSwim Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/06/13
Posts: 336
Loc: Iowa, USA
Tom

I share your story. I was abused by a priest at the age of 11. Later on in my late teens I was abused by a family friend who was a deacon. I kept these secrets for 40 years and only told my story about six months ago. Just last week I called the diocesan office of victim's support. I talked to a wonderful therapist who was hired by the diocese to handle cases like mine. He too listened and offered support. He sent me materials to read and gave me instructions on how the diocese would pay for counseling. He offered to call the authorities ( a moot point since both guys are dead) and also composed a report to be given to the archbishop.

I feel very lucky. I never lost my faith, although I don't begrudge those victims of priest abuse who did. I still suffer long lasting effects from the abuse, but I never blamed God. I guess I'm lucky, because it wasn't a conscious decision to remain faithful. It just happened, and I guess it's because of God's grace.

I'd be happy to talk more to you. Please feel free to PM me. Lastly, good luck to you. I wish you the best in your healing journey.

Take care, Dave

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#443481 - 08/06/13 05:50 AM Re: Howdy. I'm Tom [Re: motmcd]
motmcd Offline


Registered: 08/15/12
Posts: 23
Loc: PA
Thanks, Dave.

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#443535 - 08/06/13 03:42 PM Re: Howdy. I'm Tom [Re: motmcd]
KMCINVA Offline
Greeter
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1778
Tom
I too was abused by a priest. I was an altar boy and he had a way of scaring me and making me feel special. Why it happened and went on for as long as it did, I do not know. I only told my story about 2 years ago. It was difficult facing the past, but the past had been controlling me for some time. I have healed in many ways but I continue on the journey. I have told the parish, it was out of necessity this past October. I had to go to the church where the abuse took place to bury my Mom. The parish priest was wonderful--he was compassionate and understanding. He took me to the church prior to the funeral to try to help me deal with re-entering the church on the day of the funeral. He gave me contact information for the diocese. I sat on it, looked at it, re-read it for six months. I made the call and to my surprise the coordinator of Safe Environments was so understanding and compassionate. I know she was able to figure out who it was from the timeline. She offered support and arranged for me to speak with someone in the diocese where I currently live. I believe once she figured out who it was,she had more information on the person and realized help was needed. I have been in therapy and support groups for over two years now. I have made the call to the local diocese and now I will see how it progresses. The two dioceses' need to work together. The local diocese was as understanding and compassionate as the parish priest and coordinator at my home diocese. I hope I am not be lulled into a false sense of security. I know they can only disclose little but for them to realize help was needed and deserved helps to validate what happened. Many around me deny the abuse. I have been told, since my family and I were friends in recent years with a priest, I could not have been abused by a priest.No victim would be friends with a priest. Sad thinking--I have met priests who have been abused as a child and still became a priest, I have met survivors whose family members are priest. Where this thinking comes from befuddles me.

I have lost my faith, but the compassion I have received from the church is helpful and maybe one day it will restore my faith. I know not everyone in the church is an abuser but for me, as an altar boy, it was personal and I still have thoughts why me.

I am going to continue with seeking the support from the diocese, which has been offered.

I am happy you and others did not loose your faith.

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#443685 - 08/07/13 10:33 PM Re: Howdy. I'm Tom [Re: motmcd]
1.healing Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/10/10
Posts: 261
Loc: NW Ohio

Hi Tom,

Thanks for sharing this part of your story. On your question of struggles with spirituality as it relates to clergy abuse I can only speak from my experience and stories that I've heard from other survivors. It's not unique to only those abused by clergy, it happens across the board.

For me I was abused by an older male cousin and as I'd cry myself to sleep many nights I would also pray that God would stop my perpetrator relative from hurting me any more. Those prayers went unanswered and I began to feel unworthy, deeply flawed, unlovable and worst of all abandoned from the grace and intersession of my Creator. You might not think it's possible for a kid to be bitter, believe me it is! In anger I figured if God could reject me, I'd return the same and did so with dedication and gusto into adulthood. It would be many, many years before I'd find my spiritual self again and even now I struggle with being connected as I'd like to be. I've described childhood sexual abuse as soul murder, it certainly was for me and others here as well.

My story is not at all unique, but very typical of what many other men and women have experienced. Some find God or a Higher Power again and others do not. Some of us accept and forgive Him for not protecting us and others can never, who can blame them? It is a universal issue, completely across the board, it is not isolated or segregated by religious abuse alone, but sadly belongs to all of us, to all survivors.

Welcome to a brotherhood of survivors and a place of everyday miracles for believers and not. Sorry you have to be here, but welcome to this place of healing and possibilities...

Gary / 1.healing
_________________________
"It's never too late to be what you might have been."

George Elliot

"You cannot find peace by avoiding life."

Virginia Woolf

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#443822 - 08/09/13 09:10 AM Re: Howdy. I'm Tom [Re: motmcd]
motmcd Offline


Registered: 08/15/12
Posts: 23
Loc: PA
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, 1.healing.

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