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Hi Paul

I'm sorry you were abused. I was abused in every way, but not by clergy, in that way. Years ago, before I was diagnosed with MPD/DID, I went to my pastor and told him what I went through a day in my head. I didn't know it was flashbacks, reliving stuff, and having personalities. From that point on, I was abused verbally and emotionally by the pastor and some others in church. The pastor said I was possessed and that I should kill myself. The people in church were told to stay away from me and I was told to stay away from them. Whatever I did or said was wrong. The pastor was just really way out there, but people followed him. That was 26 years ago, and I still struggle with it. I didn't go to church for those 26 years, up until I started again last June. I've had alot of therapy covering that, too. Recently, I started going to a Celebrate Recovery group at our church, to help me recover from all that church stuff in the past. The people are very compassionate, and it is helping me learn to slowly, feel comfortable around church people again. Church was supposed to be a safe place, yet so many people are abused by pastors and priests. It's difficult to feel like church could feel safe again, or like I could trust anyone. But it is slowly getting better. It takes time for wounds to heal. It took me a long time to learn that how the church treated me, wasn't how God felt about me. Healing is a process. I still have scars, but they don't hurt as much as they did. Therapy helps, trying to trust again, helps. I pray healing will come your way.

Take care.
Debbie E.


Dear Paul,

Do you already know about SNAP? The Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests. www.snapnetwork.org/

If there isn't a chapter in your area, you might contact the national group. If you were abused by some other type of clergy, there may be similiar organizations. Jewish survivors can visit www.theawarenesscenter.org for info on abuse in that religious community. If others have links, please post them here.

And of course, if you'd like support from a broad range of sexual abuse survivors, we here at MV have lots of information for men and women...Literally tens of thousands of people have experienced sexual abuse from trusted people who betrayed them. You are welcome to write for us or ask questions, anytime.

I hope others can give you more answers, as well.

Best wishes,
Lynn W., Editor


Hi Paul:
There is so much contained within your question. I agree with Lynn; check out SNAP.
There is also "Advocate Web" and you can Google that.
My contact with an individual priest took place between 16 and 18 years of age. I initiated the "relationship." For these reasons, I have always had difficulty recognizing the experiences with this priest as abusive (unlike realizing my early childhood experiences, which were not clergy). If truth be told, I still question the whole experience with this person in which there was sexual interaction nearly daily for almost year--was this my fault entirely? was I really really bad? Or did he have some culpability too? It still feels very confusing.
I know if I was my own best friend that I would tell her that it was entirely inappropriate and damaging.  I guess what I am saying is that I am still terribly ashamed and confused, years later.
I craved attention and love; if my home life had been okay, I would not ever have been involved. I know that there are lots of kids and adolescents who have these experiences of clergy abuse and have wonderful home lives, but I was not one of them. In a sense, not being one of them, this created a vulnerability in me. I was also dissociative. He provided me with lots of affirmation, which I craved. He unnerved me once by saying that many parents would give anything to have him "hang out with their kid." I was often over his house, he included me in dinners with friends, gave me plenty of alcohol, let me sleep over on the sofa, and told me many intimate things about his life. I also became familiar with his duties in the church and with whom he went to when he had a problem.
I somehow had the sense that he was entirely protected.
Experiences of abuse by clergy (emotional, psychological, sexual) leave scars. You mustn't blame yourself. It was once pointed out to me that clergy have courses in ethics, intensive training in dealing with counselees, and so forth. It isn't that they go into helping others "blind" so to speak. The priest in my case was twenty+ years older than I was. He should have known better.
I will tell you that these were some of the results that are directly connected to those experiences that I had:
Extreme ANGER and HOPELESSNESS in my adolescence and 20s
Deep feelings of being "evil," and "disgusting"
One overdose.  I was stressed due to a visit by this person when I was 18 and admittedly, drank way too much--I vomited in my sleep and was intoxicated for two days. For one day not knowing my whereabouts, etc. It was life-threatening and a very bad choice on my part, but the pain was too great and out-balanced my resources at the time.
Deep CONFUSION about God (confusion between the priest and God--who is who, are they separate). This is difficult to explain but I became quite confused between the priest and God. Was the priest God? Did he have an "in" with God? If I couldn't trust the priest, could I trust God?
Extreme FEAR of priests, and of this person in particular.
Extreme avoidance of interpersonal relationships (already in place but complicated by these experiences)
Extreme distrust of priests; i.e., generalization of priests (they are "all the same"). For example, if I saw a priest in a public place I would stare daggers at him.
It took me... perhaps a decade to move past the abuse to the point where I felt "safe."  I think, though, that everyone is individual. There is no formula, unfortunately, and no clear way to know because everyone's experiences are different. I think that the age it happened at makes a big difference, as does the context, and the help one is able to obtain for trauma.
Some things can bring back memories. For example, I found out this year that one man I know sued a priest for years of abuse (after others came forward). I think of this man as courageous. It makes me question myself: I still feel too "icky" and too much self blame to ever say it was (in my case) his "fault," or to ever confront the priest in my situation. Not to mention the priest in my case told me that my selves did "not exist" and therefore, the "selves" he was involved with weren't "real." I still struggle with intense shame. My aquaintence, on the other hand, was able to place his name to his suit and I have tremendous admiration for his courage.
Peter, it takes a long time. Everyone is individual. The most important thing to know is that you must'nt blame yourself. Get the help you deserve. If you have more questions, please send them to Lynn.
Know that you are not alone.
You are not alone
Me too.



Hi Paul-

I'm Paul too, and at first I thought it was my question.  But I don't  think it is.

I'm sorry this happened to you. Of course "how long" depends somewhat  on the level of trauma you sustained.
The Snapnetwork website does have an online support forum.  But I find  support forums too overwhelming
because there is never the right volume of information flow: either  too little or too much.

Under "Contact Snap" you will see an option for local support groups.   I attended some many years ago,
and they were helpful at the time, but eventually was unable to go  because they were too overwhelming.
I feel ready again and seeing your post here is prompting me to check  in on SNAP again!  THANKS!

Also, you may be interested in checking out the documentary "Deliver  Us From Evil" which is mainly
focussed on the scandal in LA, but talks about how one priest can  cause so much damage and how
it was covered up at the highest levels.  There are many levels to  this film and different people will take
home different things.  I learned a lot from it when I saw it very  recently.

There is great value in looking at clergy abuse from a religious point  of view (as in how your religion
was distorted and used against you).   If you look at that angle, you  may find that this is the injury that
hurts the most.

Warm healing wishes to you,

Paul T.