“Victim”, embrace it, it is not derogatory, not shaming, not self-defeating. It is what I am and always will be

It seems that those who have been sexually abused by clergy members have a mine field to traverse everyday for the rest of their lives.  There are so many triggers that can set us off, (it’s not just me, I asked my psychiatrist).  I have heard that trauma recovery is multilayered, like an onion, and we will spend a good part of our lives constantly peeling away the layers.  Each layer exposes a new and different level of woundedness.  And that new level must be dealt with and healed.  That is one of the reasons I prefer the term “victim” to  the term “survivor”.  With each new level I reach, with each new layer of my woundedness that I peel away, there is a new and different issue to deal with.  Fear, pain, regret, mistrust, anger, (which has been a part of all of the layers), mistrust, mistrust, mistrust…  It is so hard to live a life with mistrust as your default personality trait.  But that is what abuse does.  And then when you are abused in a different way it reinforces the  mistrust.  I mistrust because I have been abused over and over and over again.  Sadly all abused persons can say the same thing and it is an ugly reality within Church abuse.  For me the first abuse in the Church was physical and then that was followed by psychological, emotional, verbal, spiritual, (which is so diabolic), and institutional.  But all of it, except for the physical, stems from the institutional.  I also prefer the term “victim” because Jesus Christ was and is still referred to as “victim”.  Joining my suffering to his gives me hope.  And to me the term, “survivor”, implies a level of total healing that has not happened and I see it as trying to diminish all of the abuse that the Church is responsible for in my, and other victims, life.  I am a survivor because I never succumbed to drugs, alcohol, or suicide. But I am a victim first and foremost.  It is not derogatory.  It is not shaming.  It is not self-defeating.  It is what I am and always will be and I embrace it.  Being the victim of clergy sexual abuse does not negate any strides made toward integration or getting better or finding healing.  Yes I have survived up until this juncture but only because of God’s grace in my life and first and always being a victim not just a survivor.

About follow1in3

I am a Roman Catholic priest ordained for the Diocese of Wilmington, DE who is also a victim of clergy sexual abuse. I am often angered by the insensitiviy and hostility of other clergy, the hierarchy and the so-called people-of-God. If clergy, bishops included, really and truly understood abuse, (any kind of abuse), I would not feel the need to blog on occasion. It is very frustraing.
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