I hope that anyone who has been sexually abused by a priest or anyone in authority will be able to learn from my story…
Over the past few years I embarked on an endeavor to resolve some unfinished business that had adversely affected my life since childhood. It was apparent to me for a long that I had to do something more besides just thinking and talking about it, and I suppose I was just waiting for the ‘right’ time to act.
Four years ago, when I was almost crushed by a car careening at me in a supermarket parking lot, I made a decision to give a statement to a law firm of how I had been raped by a Catholic priest at the age of 10. My thinking was that, if ever there was a class action suit when others were coming forward about that same priest, my statement would be heard. The lawyer that I spoke with told me that his firm would be able to help me on an individual basis and that the whole legal procedure would only take a couple of years at most.*
Although I had begun the process of making a report to the authorities 30 years ago when I first realized the impact of that violation of my innocence, I backed away because I was terrified of bringing all that emotional turmoil out into the open. In fact, I was woefully aware that my own dear mother would never have supported me, because she believed in the religion far more than in her own daughter.
Throughout the legal process, I found out how voraciously the church defends their pedophile priests when childhood victims come forward. Not only does the RC church use their authority to stretch out the time over which a victim has to endure the anxiety of thinking about going into a courtroom against their powerful institution, they accused me of lying!
Early on, the lawyers for the defense indicated that “the Diocese never received any complaints about Fr. Lefaive and had no knowledge of him being an abuser.” They were determined to cast doubt on me and attributed all my teenage and early adulthood problems to other issues, because there was no difference whatsoever in my scholastic achievements immediately following the rape. In fact, I had skipped a grade in the year just prior to the event and was able to excel in that year and in the two years following. Since I was under threat to keep the priest’s actions secret, it wasn’t until the priest had left my village that my behavior changed.
Surprisingly, I never anticipated how difficult it would be to resurface all those childhood memories of the abuse and the aftermath in my life. I thought that, with all the healing that had taken place since I’d started to work with my spirit, I would easily get through it all. However, I learned that the entire legal procedure is painstakingly slow, and I underwent an absurd type of psychological torment that might have been intolerable 30 years ago.
During the legal process, I had to submit to psychological assessments by a leading psychologist and a psychiatrist educator who were hired for financial gain to provide conflicting views on my sorry story. While I was comforted by the contents of my side’s report, I ended up paying a fortune for it.
When I was assessed by the defense psychiatrist, I was questioned for nearly 8 hours straight after a sleepless night, which only ended because the doctor had to pick up his children from school. In his psychological report, the psychiatrist blamed my early issues on my family’s emotional and economic problems, but he said a few things that were almost supportive and even strange. He cited studies that revealed that pre-pubescent children and those with higher intelligence fare better after being sexually abused, because they have better coping mechanisms. When I described how I had floated up out of my body, then lost consciousness while the priest was raping me, he rather absurdly stated I must have been thinking about something else.
As the first person to ever come forward about Father Ulysse A. Lefaive, a gruffly-mannered pompous pedophile priest, I felt confused and betrayed as the date of my trial approached. Even though he told me that the Diocese in which I was victimized had one of the worst records of child abuse, my lawyer suddenly changed his supportive manner and described the great risk of how the defense lawyers would turn everything around and basically destroy my character and possibly even force me to pay all their legal expenses!
Since the priest and my mother were both dead and I didn’t have enough witnesses to support my case, my lawyer told me that a judge or jury would find it hard to rule against a dead man with no prior accusations employed by such a powerful institution. How uncaring to have put me through almost 4 years of anxiety by ripping open the wounds of my early life, only to be told that my case wasn’t strong enough to go into court!
Within a few weeks of my trial, I was suddenly surprised to receive an email from an elementary school classmate who had moved shortly after the priest had raped me. I remembered this boy and had always wondered why he had left so suddenly with no explanation. When I told what had happened to me at the hands of our parish priest, he said he knew about the ‘bisexual priest’, because he had been molested by him as well. When I received this news, I was so hopeful that it would help my case, but my lawyer kept telling me that it was best to settle before going into the courtroom.
Although I had very much wanted to publicly expose what had happened to me and its effects on my life, my case was settled out of court for much less than had initially been suggested, under the threat of ripping my family name apart and causing my personal financial ruin. On their part, the RC church doesn’t want the acts of a pedophile priest to be subjected to public scrutiny, so they often bring cases like mine to the courthouse steps before they agree to settle.** The lawyers and the experts are making money, but the victims can never be repaid. As children, we were preyed upon by pedophiles who stood in the highest regard in our communities.
Even though the activities of pedophiles employed by the Catholic Church have been exposed during the past 20 years, there’s still a lot more to be done to help the childhood victims of sexual abuse at the hands of their clergymen. The third highest ranking member of the Vatican is now being sued for sexual abuse in Australia, so how can anyone continue to trust in their integrity? At the world level, even though they condemned the Holy See in 2014, I sincerely hope that the UN will consider suspending the membership of the Holy See and conduct their own investigation into the human rights abuses perpetrated by this overly powerful religious institution.
Apart from being disillusioned with my case, I sincerely hope that my story will be helpful to anyone who has been sexually abused in any way by a person of authority. I am proud of having been strong enough to finally stand up to the wealthy and powerful RC church, as they cast blame on us child survivors and attack our credibility when we come forward.
I’m not saying that making a legal claim against the RC church would help your emotional or mental suffering, because it will open up all the painful memories that your ordeal caused in your life. However, what can be gained from coming forward as an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse:
- Self-esteem. You’ll feel so much better for having stood up against a powerful authority that hurt and silenced you.
- Credibility. Your family and friends will understand you better. What happened set you on a different path than would have been traveled – you’ve blazed your own unique trail.
- Validation. You’ll feel like someone of authority (your lawyer, your psychological assessor) believes you and will act on your behalf in the justice system. As a child, you weren’t capable of righting the wrong; now your claim against the pedophile will be filed in the court records to help future victims, even if it never makes it to court.
From my perspective, I am so very grateful that I found a higher-level way to help me fight the extreme negativity I was facing! If I hadn’t learned how to work with my spirit 30 years ago, I might never have survived the ongoing disgusting negativity that leaves an abused child stranded in fear and hopelessness for the rest of their life.
Now I’ve completed the business of bringing my story into the justice system, so that other child victims of the same pedophile can come forward with more credibility and strength to have their story heard.
* Canadian law provides survivors of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of authoritative figures the right to come forward, no matter how much time has lapsed. A very recent law allows survivors to bring the employers of deceased pedophiles to justice.
** The Diocese of London, Ontario, Canada has waived confidentiality in all cases of child sexual abuse (with the exception of the amount of the settlement), due to the fact that the diocese had never alerted families that a pedophile priest had been abusing children and was being moved from parish to parish prior to 1963. If families had been notified, they could have taken precautions against leaving their innocent children alone with the employee-priests.
I am always available to help anyone who wants to learn how to work with their spirit in a practical and effective way to get rid of negativity at all levels.
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