Testimony of Abuse Victims

The Catholic News Service interviewed four victims (here). The brief article reinforces key points which are often ignored.

Victims are almost always devout Catholics, who view priests as God’s agents. Being raped by a priest is not at all like date rape or other common forms of rape. One victim said: “We lived in a neighborhood where most of the people … were Catholic. Everything in our lives revolved around the Church. To be in that kind of environment and try to say something horrible happened to you, by a person everybody thinks is a god on earth, you’re all alone.”

Another said: “Being raised Catholic, I remember - you don’t speak out against your own church. Nobody’s going to listen to you. I’ve known others that came forward. They were ridiculed and ostracized - even by their own family members.”

These devout Catholics were usually taught that sex was wicked. One woman said, “When I was growing up, we were told, ‘It would be better for you to die than lose your virtue.’” Homosexual sex is an abomination. These attitudes about sex compound the problem. Thus another victim reported, “People say, ‘You’re a bad person,’ or ‘You must have wanted it.’”

The Church and its apologists claim that things are much better now after the U.S. bishops made some changes following the “Spotlight” scandal in Boston. But given the profound nature of the trauma, we hear again and again that the victims were too afraid or too traumatized to report the crime – even to their parents. Victims wait decades before admitting it. In Australia, the average delay in reporting the crime was 30 years.

Without going into details, Catholic New Service reports, “The survivors are disillusioned with the way Church officials handle abuse cases. This disillusionment has affected their personal beliefs.” The Church often denied the crime, or tried to blame it on the victim. Even when the Church admitted the problem, they went to great lengths to keep it secret.

Testimony from judicial proceedings are often far more dramatic than these interviews from Catholic News Service.

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