I was the victim of a paedophile abuse ring organised by my parents which involved local and European visitors but also politicians and the clergy. I want to address the Church here because of all the abusers they affected me the most for various reasons.They were cruelest and most cold-blooded, offered the most protection by the general community and the Church when it was clear what was happening. Offending Priests were just moved to another Parish. They told me what they did was in the name of God and would relieve you of Original Sin. They shifted all blame to me. The guilt became mine and is something I still struggle with today.
In an opinion piece, Carol Glatz for Crux interviewed a survivor who in every situation, he said, the thing that hurt most “was the fundamental lack of respect for me as a human being whose childhood was taken away”.
“No one can go back and fix what happened to me,” Murphy said, and “I try to remain fair, articulate and balanced. But what I’ve seen is horrendous” when it comes to how people have responded to his coming forward.
Murphy said he had three objectives in all of his efforts to reach out to the church: “Somebody to listen to my story; I wanted them to believe me and say ‘I’m sorry’; and I wanted my costs back,” meaning medical and legal costs incurred since 2006, the year his health broke down and he revealed the past abuse.
That is true for me. One of the most important components of any relationship be it a mental professional or family is the knowledge that they believe my story. The Irish Ryan Commission and current Australian Royal Commission and other worldwide Commissions all back up our life stories. The evidence is there. My gynaecologist verified it. The evidence is overwhelming. So what do I want from the Church ?
It is partly money. Particularly money for victim support services. It is an abject apology and unreserved acknowledgement that it happened by the VATICAN. From the top. No more cover ups. No more protecting the Cardinals like George Pell. Admit they knew and just moved priests on from Parish to Parish and put the Churches needs ahead of parishioners and children’s. It must NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. Systems must be put into place to assure it cannot take place within Churches again. This is possible. How ? Through admitting mistakes and learning from them and being brutally honest within an organisation. This applies to all organisations from the Boys Scouts, Soccer Clubs through to Protestant and Catholic Churches. Above all CHILDREN MUST BE BELIEVED. We know the warning signs, we know children do not lie about abuse. Believe them. I told and was not believed. The heartache could have ended at age six but I was slapped across the face and told to stop telling lies. Watch children’s behaviour. If it changes, there is something wrong. Ask questions and believe them. Of course, Government and State responses are a huge part of the solution but it starts with belief because it is then that intervention can happen.
Many Countries have held Royal Commissions into Institutional Child Abuse among those the Church including Australia. It is due to hand down its report in December. I sincerely hope the Institutions investigated and questioned are called to redress and individuals such as Cardinal George Pell are called to account for the blatant cover up they orchestrated to shield Parish Priests from investigation and thereby expose even more children to unnecessary abuse.