The bad news is there is no such thing as justice for victims of clerical child sexual abuse. What was stolen from you can never be returned or replaced. The damage can never be undone. Your life cannot go back to where it was before it was so cruelly derailed.
I’m not trying to depress you, just plant realistic expectations.
Nothing you do today can undo the past.
What you can do is take control of your future.
You can ensure that your past does not destroy one more day of your life. That you look at everything from here on as a gift, and do not let a bad past prevent you from having a better future.
Your most important job is recovery and looking after you. Moving on from the coping mechanisms that helped you as a child survive an impossible situation, and finding what works best for you as an adult. Stepping out from under the oppression that kept you silent, powerless, a victim.
You will probably need counselling to help with this task. But get a good counsellor. One that you are comfortable with and that you feel is helping you. A bad counsellor just makes things worse.
You will probably need something to make you feel less victimised, more in control, more acknowledged. Only you know what that is.
For some people an apology or public admission of guilt makes all the difference. For others, financial compensation, or a criminal conviction. It is important to understand the reasons why you need what you need. What damage is this compensating for, what hurt, what need is made better by it and why?
For me, the years of denial of my experience by the Catholic Church, my parents and the entire Catholic Community were the most damaging. The lies, the pretence that nothing was wrong, that it wasn’t hurtful or important enough to even register, that I wasn’t worth protecting or standing up for, and that I hadn’t suffered enough to have a right to complain or that my suffering wasn’t real. My abuse wasn’t real.
That was enough to destroy my self worth, to murder a developing person. But somehow I, like you or your loved one, survived. For me, it was by burying the experience in the far corners of my memory and pretending it never happened. After all, everyone I knew was already doing that.
Whenever I wasn’t actually being abused, I was pretending to be a normal little girl. One that never had to deal with such a terrible experience, or hide such a terrible secret, even from herself. I hate the fact that I helped my abusers by keeping their secret, but have come to accept that if I had not done that, I would not have survived.
I also understand that what I need more than anything is acknowledgement that the abuse was real. That powerful adults denying my experience does not make me a liar.
What I want more than anything to help me recover is a criminal conviction against my abuser. Because it will not only acknowledge my abuse, but also confirm that I did not deserve to be abused. That what was done to me was wrong. Immeasurably harmful. Criminal.
I may not ever see a criminal conviction against this predator for his abuse of me or his other victims. I cannot control the many factors which determine if that happens. I can do my best to ensure it happens, but ensure my recovery is not reliant upon this one issue. I have to rebuild my life regardless, ensure there are other sources of healing and satisfaction, and if he does escape “justice”, know that I can find another way to fill the aching void that needs filling.
Every victim will have an idea of what will repair their core hurt. But none of us can guarantee the rest of the world will fall into place to ensure it will happen. And even if it does, there is no guarantee we will suddenly feel the wrong has been righted, the damage repaired. By all means try, but don’t depend entirely upon it. Or you will be setting yourself up for disappointment.
And what we need is to be able to put our past behind us and move on with the future.
Dealing directly with the Catholic Church