“When one goes looking for something, one rarely finds it, but when you least expect it, the object of your search tends to fly up in front of you.”
This is a hard topic to write about. What happened all those years ago, the coverup by the church, the discord in the survivor community. I find myself both drawn to writing and wanting to put all this down and walking away to something else, anything else. I have had people recommend both courses of action, some more profane that others.
I wrote a piece not too long ago looking for the “Survivor Community”. There was no response from the “community”. I know someone is reading “Off My Knees”. I see readership numbers that mystify me everyday. I am even more perplexed when I have not had a post for a little while and the numbers start to climb into the hundreds per day. Usually that is the indicator that something has stirred in the universe and another person in authority (priest, coach, teacher, cop, relative…) has been identified as a molester/rapist of children or that a major piece of legislation has come to a head or that someone has died. When I see random peaks in readership, I go to the analytics that I track for my blog looking for an explanation.
I do get emails from survivors or people close to a survivor looking for answers, advice or a conversation with someone who understands all too well what happened all those years ago. I am very wary of requests for phone conversations and even more concerned about requests for face to face meetings. I am also hesitant to offer advice, mostly because I still have more questions than answers.
The other night I was tracking activity in this blog that turn out to be someone who was reposting a blog post I had written. That is when the thought came to me. As Survivors, we don’t trust each other. Is it possible that what we have in common also alienates us from each other? Our vulgar initiation into this universe of survivors makes us ever vigilant and doubtful of the motives of our correspondents. We will read each other’s posts on blogs and message boards, but there is a hesitance to respond, to act, to come together. For many, we have not really given up the great terrible secret that we have carried for so long. We may be silently watching from the comfort of our own world. Many are not engaged. Many are not ready to be engaged. Many are too tired of all of it to be engaged.
While we may have a great deal in common, we, as a group, do not really talk very much. I kept quiet for well over 33 years. All that silence keeps things from happening. It keeps the well-organized people who protected the criminals who preyed on us strong. It keeps them on the street, it keeps them from being called to account for their complicity.
Our silence also fails to shape the message of our community. Silence is seen by consent by groups that are putting forward an agenda. Those agendas are not always in our collective interest. Within our community there are bitter divisions. Some of the worst vitriol I have seen spewed at survivors has come from other survivors. Discourse between us is not only discouraged, it is often attacked when the message does not support the “national position” .
We still need to find our collective voices, we still need to learn to network. Most importantly, we must understand that, while there is a common thread, we all have very unique experiences that don’t always fit nicely into the general picture being painted of the community. Just as I am amazed at the inability of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to tell the truth, I am amazed at the sometimes vicious tactics used between survivors.
Differences in points of view should be expected. But the infighting and the polarization in the survivor community are doing nothing but helping the people/organizations/institutions who desperately want us to remain silent and subservient.
4 thoughts on “Crickets, silence on the net…”
Well that was some pretty great and truth filled writing there. Great job.
I’m am fascinated by “the boy in the bubble” analysis/image of who keeps reading you and in such numbers, yet you are alone.
When you asked for community and you thought you were in one and no one save Kay and I responded, did the penny drop? Teetering a bit?
It’s like talking to yourself in an empty warehouse. But you’re what’s being warehoused
and a crowd has been meticulously watching all along
Always just watching.
Is Rod Serling around?
But the call to peace by you leaves truth where exactly? On the ground? In the dirt? In the air?
How to you make peace with a fraud? Your enemy,( the corporate Church’s choice certainly not the victims choice,) dressed up as you and pretending to be you. and telling the world what you want and how you feel with out ever bothering to ask you. As a matter of fact making choices that harm victims even more.
I sincerely and most humbly beg an insight on how to work with an enemy that won’t admit he is one but consistently and constantly acts like your enemy? Because he is.
Much is on the table here. Loved the writing.
Even though CofA blog is quiet right now, there will be a surge in clicks, on any of the 20 or so CofA sites occasionally. From my stats it seems people find it by keywords in google searches. But, Mike, there is no survivor community. Reason is every attempt we made to be an activist inclusive aggressive force was shot down by … you know who. I think the reason so many of us has disappeared is each of us has been vibed away in our own personal ways by… you know who. A lot of us just decided it was not worth the effort as THEY would always show up and dissipate anything we were doing. So, onward. Everything we put on the internet is up there Forever, so, me, I’m going to have some fun the last years of my life. Love, Kay http://cityofangels12.blogspot.com
OK, I’m not super technically savy, and at first I couldn’t figure out how to comment on your post. I didn’t realize I had to scroll all the way down, and at first I didn’t even see the other comments.
I too am a sexual abuse survivor. I left the church for 29 years, but within the last 3 years have come back. And I have come back with a voice. I am in a diocese where they claim they only have 2 sexual abuser priests. Our diocese does NOT post the names of their priests found responsible for sexual abuse – they claim there are so few it isn’t a big deal, and neither one was legally prosecuted, so they are afraid of liability issues. So, I have no idea who the other survivors in our diocese are. Despite the fact I have even written letters to the editor of our community newspaper and put my name out there. I even speak at Western Michigan University, in the Sociology Dept.’s Sexual Abuse class and tell my story and share the names of my abuser AND the priest that walked in on us and who yelled at me to leave and never did anything to the other priest. So I have not been silent about my abuse or my abusers.
I also finally after many, many years filed an official report with my diocese, and the victim assistance coordinator I was given by my diocese also encouraged me to make a police report in the city where the abuse happened. I did that as well. He said it would help our case when it was sent to the CDF at the vatican.
I have not been involved with SNAP either, because I feel they can’t say anything nice at all about the Catholic church. They told me never, ever trust them, they are only about protecting themselves, they don’t care about you, etc. It seemed to me that had gone too far in the other direction. There ARE good priests and good Bishops. I have met them. I have been cared for by them. I felt SNAP was just to “militant” in their approach towards the church.
On the other hand, I would LOVE to get to know other survivors of abuse by priests. I would love to share what I have learned and what I have done in my diocese since I have come back into the church.
But you are right – no one will speak up. The church is extremely cautious about not betraying the names of those abused, and well they should be. But I don’t understand why the abused won’t speak up.
I have had many meetings with our Bishop. I have had a meeting with the ArchBishop of Detroit’s right hand man, when I found online that one of the priests found responsible for sexual abuse in OUR diocese was saying mass in ANOTHER diocese and even had his picture in his seminary’s newsletter and wrote an article for their newsletter!
What I have found in our Diocese is we had a big hole. No one follows up on the priests who have been declared a sexual abuser! NO one checks in with them to see if they are adhering to the restrictions placed on them. So I became our Diocese’s watchdog. But in doing so I have worked alongside our Office of Safe Environment to show them how to set up “google alerts”, to show them how once a month I google the name of our abusers. It has resulted in one priest being called into our Bishop’s office and warned again to not be practicing as a priest in public. I have been frustrated in a couple of areas. I feel like this priest in particular had a record of disobeying his restrictions and continued to just get his hands slapped. While he is continuing to get his pension from our diocese.
Another big frustration has been that my abuser was visiting the US from India when he abused me. It went on for almost a year. My case was found credible by our diocese and I was supported by our Bishop. The CDF contacted HIS Bishop in India. The priest cried out innocent, he didn’t remember me, I was totally making all of this up, I was going to have to pay eternally after answering to God, while he would have a clean conscious. His Bishop said he was elderly, in poor health, and no longer practices as a priest in public due to that. so the CDF said they simply asked him to say a mass on Fridays for victims of sexual abuse! Well, I also found HIM on the internet. In one case he was headed to the US for a conference, but after my intervention he did not come. In another case I found his picture on his Diocese’s Newsletter performing mass in front of thousands of people! Again, lack of anyone keeping track of this guy, except me! Our Bishop, bless his heart, wrote a letter to his Bishop asking how he could allow such a thing when the CDF said that this priest was not in a position to cause scandal or harm to the church or others. The reply, “I’ve asked him not to do it again.” Big deal!
My one wish is that survivors, at least in MY STATE would band together and fight to do away with the statute of limitations for prosecution and personal lawsuits. In my case, I think the only way the church will feel the sting of its negligence is in the pocketbook.
I wish there was some way I could sue internationally my abuser, and/or the Syro-Malabar Sect of the Catholic Church who allowed him to not only come into the US when he abused me, but brought him back to the US to start a missionary church in CA about 4 years ago. It was there that I found him online. Unfortunately he was at home in India when I found him and reported him, When he some how got wind of my report, he conveniently decided to retire (after only about 5 months at his missionary church) and stay in India. His property that was here in the US was evidently shipped back to him in India.
Well, I’ve said my piece. I hope you hear my openness, my desire to have more survivors speak out. My concerns about SNAP and what I am doing in MY diocese to make MY presence and impact known and to do my part in keeping the children in our diocese safe. I even google search info on visiting priests, new priests, etc. And most importantly, I think. I DON’T KEEP QUIET!
I would love to know what diocese you live in. Actually, there are a lot of things in your comment that are making me wonder.