I am currently reading SPLIT: A CHILD, A PRIEST AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH by my friend Mary Dispenza.
Abuse memoirs are usually a tough read, but Mary discusses her life with grace and respect—very similar to the way she lives her life.
While I am not done with the book, something struck me at the very beginning of her narrative. From the book (emphasis mine):
Not more than a week passed before I got to the circle of other women at Therapy and Renewal Associates (TARA) for the Archdiocese of Seattle—and there I spun some more, listening for the first time to stories of other women within the Catholic Church who had been abused by priests. Many of their stories were like mine, except I was the only woman who had been abused as a child.
I was floored.
I don’t have an answer or an analysis. Just questions.
2 thoughts on “A question about adult victims”
I believe adult victimization by clergy and others in positions of power is just as prevalent as child sexual abuse, but it’s even more hidden. Just like people look past victimization of teenage boys by women due to stereotypes, they look past and even justify victimization of adults of either gender by other adults due to different stereotypes.
Since many adult victims of not just priests or other clergy but in general were molested as children, preventing child molestation will cut down on adult victimization. Since many people who seek counseling do so due to childhood trauma, those who abuse them have revictimized someone that had been victimized as a child.
One way to confirm victimization is by asking the following question. If the adult victim was a child, would the grooming and power differential be obvious? I.e if you replaced a 30 year old victim with a 10 or 15 year old victim, but kept all other details the same, would the position of trust violation jump out?
While this is an unorthodox suggestion, I believe that parents also have an active role to play in preventing victimization of even adult children.
The Hope Of Survivors, the Faith Trust Institute, and Diana Garland of Baylor University are specialists in treating adult female victims of clergy sexual abuse.
Joelle, I have been following (and learning from) your posts for a long time. I read Mary’s book and it certainly resonated (to use an overworked word) with me. I suspect that there are MANY more girls and women who have been abused by priests than we can imagine.
Thank you for your very interesting posts over the years and for all that you are doing to help abused children, regardless of their gender. We were all innocent victims, and we carry it forever (and I’m in my 70s and have had years of counseling to help me deal with the years of abuse in the name of religion). It still haunts…