Guest Columnists

Survivor Tells Of His Healing

(Photo: CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

by Anonymous

It seems appropriate that this Healing Mass includes a contribution from one of the survivors. Each survivor has had their own individual hurdles to overcome the trauma they experienced. Hopefully some information conveyed here today about my experience can provide solidarity and hope to others to begin or to continue their healing process.  

The fact is what happened to me as a child brought upon a life of compulsive behaviors that were unhealthy and harmful, some of which I still battle today over 50 years later.

For more than 25 years I believed what happened to me as an altar boy was something I chose to do and believed that the unhealthy behavior I developed was who I was and not the result of my childhood trauma.  

I also remember as a child committing myself to a Christ-like life. It was the commitment that saved me as I battled the dichotomy of trying to live a Christ-like life with the detrimental behaviors that stemmed from the trauma I suffered.  

I was blessed by God throughout my life. He provided me with a wonderful loving wife and family and saved me many times from behavior that could have ruined my life.  And when I did run into trouble it was through the grace of God that none of it was as catastrophic as it could have been. 

I believe that my experience must in some ways be like other survivors. Many of us were altar boys who believed in and were committed to living a Christ-like life. There must have been times like mine where the suffering caused by the abuse was mitigated by the grace of God. I ask you to remember those times, go back to that child who believed in living a Christ-like life, and find the healing.  

As survivors we are the only ones who know the damage we suffered. Over the years there has been failure by the leaders of the Catholic Church in dealing forthright in policing themselves and providing relief to survivors. My advice is to not get caught up in their failure so that it prevents you from becoming healthy. Instead, avail yourself of all that the Church does offer now and find the healing we deserve.  

I was never one who believed I could benefit from therapy. As a survivor, the Church offered these services for free. After years of therapy, I have become better in understanding who I am and how the trauma I suffered related to my behavior. But more importantly, I developed ways to control it. I realized the success I had in therapy was the result of just listening and hearing myself talk about my issues. Simply hearing the words come out of my mouth about my bad behavior triggered the energy and commitment to control it. Therapy has helped me when I didn’t think it would. I hope we all find the strength to control the damage done to us and the peace we all deserve.  

My message today is that therapy helped me on the road to healing and perhaps it can help others like me. As a survivor it is available — try it.  

May peace come to us all.  

This anonymous life experience letter was read after Communion by Elizabeth Harris, the Victims Assistance Coordinator, at the Hope and Healing Mass on Oct. 26.