Advice from a victim to a parent. SNAP.

In recent months, given all the bad publicity that is now undeniable, we, at SNAP, have been asked many questions by Catholics. One in particular was from a mother who asked about her choice to raise her child Catholic. How could she do that without fear, given all that she knows now about the mishandling of paedophile priests in the Catholic Church. For each of us, our response was somewhat different, as it should be.
All of us come at this at differing times of our healing and all of us have had differing, yet similar experience. It is tremendously hard for survivors of clergy abuse to, at times, not be very negative about the religion that hurt them so much, not just once, but every time we are re-victimized.
Ones spiritual road must be ones own journey. No matter what religious upbringing each one of us has, the experiences we have are unique to us. Because our experiences were so negative, we obviously have large hurdles to overcome to embrace any religion. I can tell you that EVERY survivor I have met struggles with this issue. I, personally, have tried other religions, and have yet to find one I am comfortable with. Given my experiences, I tend to view religion as a business because having come forward with my truth has taught me that the religion I knew was by and large, not a spiritual institution, but a well run business whose main concern was, and still is today, to protect its’ reputation at all cost.
The cost of my soul, and the other survivors I have come to call my dear friends, has long been overlooked. I have struggled with the religious upbringing of my own children because of my distrust of Catholic institutions. I was abused by a priest. My son attended Catholic School until second grade when I confronted a priest in our parish about things I heard about him being a predator and the priest was removed from that parish the next day, even though he denied it to me. My daughter was baptized by a priest, who in accused in recent months of abusing members of that same parish. The parish my brother belonged to in R I had a priest dismissed for the same reasons.
In my world, there is no safe Catholic Church. Too much has personally been proof for me that the institution of Catholicism doesn’t in any way, shape, or form, have a handle on how to effectively deal with this issue. Meanwhile, it worries me a great deal that my kids don’t have positive thoughts about religion as a whole. They have my reality as their experience and that has tainted their view of a safe house to put their hopes of eternal life and reason for them to believe there is actually a loving God out there. This weighs heavy on my heart.
*****As a parent, my advice is to simply be vigilant about who your kids spend time with. Be it the coach, the teacher, the dance instructor, the neighbourhood elderly man, and most importantly, the relative who likes to spend time alone with your child. Be suspicious. It may seem cynical, but it is safe and isn’t it our jobs to provide that safety first and foremost for our children? Be sure to make surprise visits, check references, and personally be as involved as you can be. Any religious leader should be viewed no differently than a babysitter. 
The best possible solution to preventing this very painful experience is to arm your children with knowledge about safe touch, appropriate behavior and boundaries. Make sure your children know that they CAN and you WILL question authority for their safety. Be the kind of parent that your child can come to with ANYTHING. Open communication is the basis of trust in any relationship and a parent/child relationship should be no different. It is necessary to be available, open, forgiving, loving and supportive. That unconditional love goes a long way when a child is fearful that they did something wrong, which is how they will be made to feel if this should happen to him/her.
At your local church, ask the parish priest where he was stationed last. Be suspicious of leave of absences, houses of affirmation, treatment facilities or long sabbaticals. These are red flags that you should pay special attention to. This should be information available to every parishioner. If you meet resistance, that usually means they have something to hide. There should NEVER be a situation in which you, as a parent, is not welcome to attend be it religious education class or after school programs–anything your child in enrolled in.     

I have learned in my lifetime that if I feel uncomfortable in any way with ANYONE in contact with my child, to trust that gut reaction. Listen to it and respect it, even if it makes no sense to the other nine parents in the group. It is you who knows your child best and you who is ultimately responsible for his/her well being. Respect your child, too, when they feel uneasy…it is amazing how on target they can be at times. 

The decision to raise your child one religion versus the other is really in your own trust in that institution. Don’t be brainwashed. Don’t tolerate secrecy. Remember, real religion is in people’s hearts, not in buildings! (That was taken from a Joshua book…a priest actually wrote that…what are the odds?)

Spiritually struggling with you,
Cyndi Desrosiers
Survivor, Activist.

About luckyme0

My First family, second marriage, bringing up my 18-year-old twins, boy, and girl. I am a third generation Humanist, who has some old handwritten information and notes; collected over many years. Someone may find the articles interesting, or helpful. They could bring back a little ‘reality’, after being ‘shocked’ and ‘brainwashed’, by some malicious group, or institution (REBT Therapy). People should know better, than to do this, to our very young, and the ‘obviously’ vulnerable! Go to easily accessible, non-superstitious knowledge that is not charlatanism! The blog has given me an incentive to order my thoughts, learn, and read up again, after a few non-thinking years of (very silly) imagination and passion. Why not, get your own key to a ‘door’, customise it to suit you, and it can be, all of your very own! Don’t believe, or be led by someone else’s; inherited, stupid, and a very likely (past, and not of today’s) ‘totally preposterous reality’s’. Only some interest in the ‘really big questions’, keeps life above the level of a farce, and very little else! KEEP THINKING! Some of the posts may need some correcting. Interests: REBT Counselling, Atheism, Secularism, Humanism, Psychology, Reading, Popular Science, School Ethos, Philosophy, History, Family, Parenting, Psychology, Horse Riding, Sailing, Rescue Boat Driver, Skiing (Teppichswinger), TV Documentaries, Motorbike Cross Country Riding, Volunteer Sports Stewarding, Writing, Primitive Man, Pre-history, Social Anthropology, British Humanist Association, BHA, Meaning of Life, The Big Questions, Where am I, What am I, Why am I, Hippie Love, Knowledge, Education, Globalisation. Favorite quote: “The world belongs to those who, at least to some degree, have figured it out.” Carl Sagan, ‘The Demon Haunted World’, ‘Contact’, and other famous books DVD ‘Cosmos’. The warning of another and horrendous, “Age of Superstition”. “Isn’t there something deeply absurd in the presumption that children ought to inherit beliefs from their parents. It can be deeply damaging, even lethally divisive. A ‘them’, with an ‘against us’, mentality” – Professor Richard Dawkins. “The will to believe is stronger than mere reason in the vast majority of people” – Dr J.Brown, Army Psychologist of the 1960′s. Humans will believe in almost anything, in fact, they seek it! Why? “98% of us, trained to be just good consumers, let’s train our children to be the 2% who have their very own creativity and discernment”; quote by a famous surreal artist. “The lack of reason brings forth monsters”. “Global interconnectedness is lethal against mass religion, nationalism, racism, and other destructive memeplexes. Let us connect everybody they hate it in restrictive regimes”; from the ‘meme learning group’, Richard Brodie’s book, ‘Virus Of The Mind’ (Richard Brodie a designer for ‘Microsoft Word’). Following on, J.Bronowski, and ‘The Ascent Of Man’ TV series, and a book with the last DVD in this series, ‘The Long Childhood’ being especially revealing. ‘Prehistory’ and the ‘Making of the Human Mind’ by Colin Renfrew, with P.Wilson’s, ‘The Domestication of the Human Species’, and Nigel Spivey’s, TV series and book, ‘How Art Made The World’, offers some further explanations. Latest reading: Jared Diamond
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