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I am writing this from the low country of South Carolina. A break needed to assess where I am and where I am going. I am also working on a project that I will keep under wraps for the time being. The first steps are proving to be very challenging.
After the post from July where I asked the question “What is it going to take?” I did not hear crickets, but I also did not hear a lot of consensus. Most of the comments were via email to this blog and, as a rule, I don’t publish the contents of email unless I have the permission of the correspondent.
I keep coming back to the same basic conclusion. We, the community of survivors, don’t trust each other. I am sure someone with a lot more education in psychology can explain all this. In fact, I would love to hear the explanation.
What I have discovered is that there are divisions within the community that baffle me. There seems to be a concern that someone’s abuse is more important, more devastating, more valid than another.
There is no criteria to determine who is a survivor and who is not. There is no experience barometer to determine who had it “bad enough” to be in the “club”. I almost hesitate to say the word “community” anymore. I really don’t think there is one. There is no network, there is no organization because we cannot come to a definition of who can be considered a survivor. And that serves the interests of the predators and the institutions that have protected them.
It is not a competition. It is a very destructive game of “I had it worse than you”. Can’t we agree that is awful, devastating, damaging and life altering? It is completely confusing to me that the people who should have the most empathy for survivors are other survivors. And yet, that is where I find the most intensely judgmental collection of individuals who are often very vocal when anyone offers an opinion other contrary to the “norm”.
If this is the game, I don’t want to play anymore. I have better things to do than sit around comparing stories of abuse and the levels of devastation caused by that abuse. I will leave that sorting to someone else.
It is not all SNAP’s fault either. We can wax poetic about how screwed up an organization, any organization may be. We can waste our time affixing blame. Or we can get organized, concentrate on the predators and the institutions that protect them and move forward. At some point this has to stop being about individuals and it has to start being about something greater.
If we are to have that kind of community of survivors, we must not sit in judgement of each other, we must work together to change the environment that has allowed predators to target children and vulnerable adults. If we cannot do that, we have already failed.
It seems that what it is going to take is empathy for each other. Once we have that we can start to be more organized and focused on changing the conditions that allow an environment for abuse and criminal conspiracies to protect predators to exist.
I have been off the grid for about a week. I am just catching up with the news and my email and I was startled to find out that Teresa Osborne, the Chancellor of the Diocese of Scranton was injured in a serious automobile accident on 23 July.
I wanted to send out my best wishes for a full recovery. While the employer of Ms. Osborne and I do not see eye to eye, I do not wish anyone in the Diocese ill and I certainly don’t want to see anyone have to endure serious injury.
For those of you who find comfort in prayer, please keep her in yours. For those of us that don’t, a little love and light in her direction can’t hurt.
Justice4PAKids is sponsoring a 2 hour motorcycle ride (approx. 11-1pm) on September 20, 2014 and they invite your non-motorcycle rider friends & family to join in the festivities at The Office Bar and Grille, located at 1021 Morehall Rd., Malvern, PA! Meet them for great food, drink specials, raffles and more! Proceeds from the ride and 20% of the food purchases at The Office supports Justice4PAKids community outreach programs.
For more information click this link for details: Justice4PAKids
Come out and support a great organization!
I wrote a blog post in February, 2013 titled “Is there a Survivors’ Community” in which I was looking for answers from survivors about our community, our way forward and who speaks for us. In May,2013 I expressed my frustration in another post, “Crickets, Silence on the net…” that I did not hear from anyone in the survivor’s community. According to the analytics I see on this blog, plenty of people read the original but no one offered their thoughts.
Here we are again and I am wondering why we can’t move forward. I am wondering what the factors are in keeping us separated, unorganized and losing ground in efforts to change legislation and have society take the problem of sexual abuse and rape of children and vulnerable adults seriously.
A reporter contacted me a while back on a story concerning a priest accused of molesting a young boy. He had already published the story but wanted my feedback. He had used a quote from SNAP for the article, the same inane drivel that the National Director of that organization generically applies to any and all cases of abuse on which he is queried. It made me wonder.
What is it going to take? What would it take to get a coherent message from the survivor community to articulate the message that children and vulnerable adults are at risk from predators who enjoy a certain level of top cover from institutions who are more concerned with a risk management strategy than with the protection of those who need it most? Is there a way that the message can be successfully crafted and articulated? Can it be molded into a strategy that allows for the development of stronger laws to protect victims and enable the predators and their protectors to be held accountable both criminally and civilly? Can we develop a voice that is institutionally agnostic and not narrowly focused on the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of American, Penn State or any other notorious institution with a history of child sexual crimes?
The other side of this argument is well-organized and well-funded. Despite the fact that organizations like the Catholic League are notorious for spewing lies and portraying victims as predators or being responsible for the abuse inflicted upon them, we have no credible organization, at the national level, that can present a coherent case for the need for change in legislation, education, institutional culture, and society in dealing with predators who prey on children. We have no credible counters on Fox News to the Bill Donohues of the world.
We don’t need shrill fundraisers who only seem to hang around looking for the next donation to pay the salary or travel expenses for the next hit and run media opportunity. (It must be convention time again.) We need serious people who can step up and credibly do the work. We need to actually network the survivors of child sexual abuse, their supporters, law enforcement, the criminal justice system and the legislatures in all the states to move in the direction of making the punishment so vile for crimes of this nature for both the predator and the institution that protects the predator that there is no where for the predator to find a safe haven.
As with many stories, the public eventually gets weary and loses interest. That is what institutions like the Catholic Church want. They want everything to blow over, go away, disappear. The predators want that as well so that they may return to the business of grooming their next victim. Perhaps it is time to find our national voice, our national strategy, our universal calling to actually effect a long-lasting change. The shrill voices from Chicago and St. Louis have proven that they are not up to the task. Who will step up?
Are you still out there?