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“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.