Since first speaking out in 2008 about my six years of child sexual abuse at the hands of a Brother from the Passionist Order, I have found a strength I never knew I had, discovered a voice that demands to be heard after being bullied into silence for so long, and have achieved so much on my road towards recovery, acceptance and peace.
But most of all I have never lost my determination not to leave behind all the other voiceless victims.
I know so well what it is like to endlessly relive or try to escape childhood terror. To never feel safe. To not even know what safe feels like.
To be scared of everyone and everything. To have your very experience denied. To be made to feel so unworthy of protection. To be made to feel guilt and shame for everything, even crimes committed against you, even just for existing.
To know that death has got to be better than this, maybe even a welcome relief, but to keep going anyway.
To shut down everything that makes you a person, an individual, that makes you human, in order to survive the unbearable pain.
To be utterly, utterly abandoned and utterly, utterly alone.
The last two and a half years since I began this journey have been harrowing, unbelievably painful, constantly distressing and frequently debilitating. But I wouldn’t consider going back to being a voiceless victim, not even for a second.
My life was stolen from me by a man who delighted in the terror he could see in my eyes every time he walked into the room. Whether or not he could manage to get his disgusting tobacco stained hands on me at that particular time, whether or not he could thrust his repulsive head too close to mine, with its rotting teeth and whiskey breath, he could still make me feel violated and terrorised from across the room.
My real life started just over two years ago when I was supported, half fainting with distress, into the police station to make my police statement.
I wish there had been someone, anyone offering me the help I so desperately needed years earlier.
While I was being regularly abused by this predator who could invade my home at any time.
After I ran away from home to escape being trapped and forced by my parents to submit to his abuse.
When the Catholic parish which enabled my abuse and that of at least 50 other girls, some as young as six, was forced in 1996 to acknowledge “inappropriate behaviour” in their midst, they only admitted it to local parishoners, while most victims, like myself, who were determined to stay away from the community that had turned their collective backs on us in our time of need, were unaware of what was going on.
When the Passionist Order in Australia, after making a cowardly, evasive and most unwilling semi-admission, hid him away, eventually moving him interstate and changing his name.
Or any time in between.
It’s not that I didn’t want to speak out throughout those years. No one wanted to hear what I needed to say. There was no one I could trust because they were all too busy protecting and supporting him. Too busy pretending nothing had happened. Too busy bullying victims who dared to speak into silence.
And if I had spoken out and been betrayed, neglected and abandoned once again by those whose responsibility it was to support, protect and defend me, I am fairly certain it would have killed me.
Another problem solved for the Catholic Church. Another victory for the vicious criminals whose enemy I am just by the fact of my existence.
One of my main objectives since first speaking out has been to encourage the Catholic Church not to abandon the other voiceless victims as I had been abandoned all those years.
Voiceless victims want help. They deserve help.
They are not getting it. Certainly not from the Catholic Church. Not from politicians and lawmakers. And not from the “justice” system which is so biased in favour of this type of criminal it could have been deliberately designed to keep 99% of these predators out of jail and free to proclaim their “innocence”, free to abuse dozens more victims each year.
Voiceless victims have been trained by harsh experience to expect any request for help will be met by yet more brutal abuse, by a lack of belief, by a lack of consideration of their pain and vulnerability, by a lack of understanding, by abandonment, blame and even ridicule.
Which may just be the last straw that finally breaks them.
And so they hold it all inside, at great personal cost. To themselves and their families. It affects multiple generations.
The Catholic Church like it that way. Their whole system of operation is based on the voiceless victims never getting the help they need, never finding anyone brave enough to stand up for them, never recovering, never being strong enough to speak. Because if the full, dreadful truth, the full extent of lies, betrayal and criminal complicity, or the full number of innocent lives ruined were known, it might damage the Catholic Church’s reputation.
It might open Church leaders to criticism.
It might divert some of the obscene wealth hoarded by the power obsessed Church from funding the luxurious lifestyles of its pampered princes.
It might undermine centuries of political manipulation to brainwash the gullible into believing that the Pope is infallible and the Church is answerable to no one.
And it might set the ridiculous precedent that the Catholic Church does not have a God given right to do whatever it pleases to whomever it pleases, no matter how immoral, illegal, criminal or evil, in complete and sanctimonious secrecy.
Even with all my years of personal experience of their hypocrisy, self interest and complete lack of honesty or compassion, naively I still hoped that Church officials would be moved by a heartfelt appeal for justice from an impassioned and articulate group of victims.
In the past twelve months we met with the Australian Church hierarchy, one by one. The figureheads and the enforcers. The subtly deceitful political appointees and the nakedly ambitious.
The smugly callous narcissist Cardinal, the two faced Papal Nuncio, the slightly befuddled incompetents. The entitled Archbishop who, contemptuous of a victim whose well connected rapist had been sent back to Australia to continue abusing by the Vatican, lashed out at her attempts to achieve justice with, “Go to hell, bitch!” The ruthless psychopath who runs the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and is so powerful he bullies the aristocratic Papal Nuncio with no need to be polite or respectful. This thug threw me out on the street in the dark in a strange city, desperately unwell and unable to drive home and left me to face my options of no accommodation available at all that night in the whole city, trying to care for my two children and hysterical colleague but needing medical attention myself, unable to think straight from the pain but the only responsible adult and the only one able to drive us all home (a three and a half hour journey), which I did eventually, through sheer effort of will, arriving well after midnight.
We told these rich old men in dresses our stories, and the stories of other victims. We begged for appropriate help for those unable to withstand, or unable even to consider submitting to the incredibly abusive treatment meted out to vulnerable victims by the Catholic Church.
They really did think that they were doing us a huge favour by actually meeting with us. Most Catholics would probably sell their children for such an opportunity.
Not me. I had to force myself not to give in to the inevitable nausea associated with being in close proximity to such evil men.
They met with us to shut us up. So they could point to the meetings as a sign they were serious about helping victims.
But they had no intention of helping victims. They were determined not to give any ground on this issue unless forced to do so. And we were not powerful or influential. We were the powerless whose only role in their “compassionate” Church was to be exploited by the powerful. Nothing we could have said would ever change those closed minds and hearts.
To them all victims are an enemy to be outflanked, silenced, eradicated.
Our very existence is a threat to them. An inconvenient truth they will do anything to deny.
So no, despite any number of cynical PR announcements that they are doing “everything possible” to help victims, in truth they have absolutely no intention of doing anything other than bullying us into silence and praying we all die off as soon as possible so they don’t have to deal with this unfortunate mess of their own creation.
What they don’t realise is, this forgotten, unloved kitten which was earmarked for destruction has fought its way out of their drowning bag and I’m never going back in. They tried to destroy me but only succeeded in making me stronger.
And now I know there’s no way they’ll ever voluntarily do the right thing for victims.
So I won’t waste any more time or effort trying to convince them.
As recent events in Philadelphia have demonstrated so clearly, no matter what lies the apologists, the Bishops, and the Cardinals may tell, up to and including Pope Pinocchio himself, the only way the Catholic Church hierarchy will ever do the right thing for victims and for child protection is if they are forced to do so against their will.
It is high time they were forced.