2014 Conference Breakout Sessions

Morning Breakout Sessions

Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going — How Survivors have Changed History —Tom Doyle—Burnham BC(CC23BC)

The Church leaders, Catholic and otherwise, faced with the harsh reality of an epidemic of sexual abuse of the vulnerable by clergy and continued spiritual and emotional abuse by the “leadership” (sic dicte), have responded with, among other things, an on-going “real-time” revision of history.  This session will summarize the hard facts and will show how survivors have challenged world’s largest organization and largest religious denomination have succeeded in changing the place of the church in today’s world and into the future.

Men’s Support Group—Tim Lennon and Dave O’Regan—Field B (CC20B)

This session focuses on the special needs of male survivors and includes a confidential, participatory support group meeting for men. This is a chance to meet with other survivors in a safe set-ting and learn from others’ experiences. Men are often forced to keep sexual attacks a secret for fear of being labeled weak. This session will help explore ways for men to dispel this myth. While every participant will have the opportunity to speak, no one will be required to do so.  

Writing Your Story—Jason Berry, Sean Strub and Norbert Krapf—Clark A (CC22A)

Literature and Survival. Poet Norbert Krapf, Catholic Boy Blues, and memoirist Sean Strub, Body Counts, discuss what it has meant in their lives to find the words that register the meaning of survival, and what it takes to prevail over traumas of the past. The authors will read from their works, and answer questions. Moderated by Jason Berry.

Legal Issues—Jeff Anderson—DuSable A (CC21A)

Many survivors struggle with the decision of whether suing the church is helpful or harmful. This workshop will explore the pros and cons of the issue. The legal system is often frightening and confusing for survivors, and this is a chance to ask questions. We will discuss how to assess the facts to determine if filing is appropriate. We will also discuss alternatives if you are not able to file.  

Healing Yoga—Sheila O’Grady—Skyline Suite

Yoga has been found to be beneficial to those who are on a healing journey. Survivors of sexual abuse can use yoga as an adjunct therapy to traditional counseling sessions. This gentle and healing chair yoga class will focus on the mind/body benefits of yoga. Simple poses, combined with breath-work will help to relieve stress and tension. The powerful healing aspects of yoga will be demonstrated in this class. There are no prerequisites and you do not have to know yoga in order to participate in this class. All are welcome.

Abuse of Vulnerable Adults—Erin Crosby—Field C (CC20C)

Those abused as adults endure the same kind of horrific consequences as children, but are often overlooked or marginalized. This workshop focuses on the needs of this special group. It will include discussions focusing on the unique point of view of the adult survivor, and will provide opportunities to ask questions and receive support.  

Traumatic Symptoms and Overall Well-being in those Abused by Church Workers — Janna Henning—DuSable B (CC21B)

This study examined current traumatic symptoms and well-being in people abused by church workers. Seventy-two SNAP members (50% male/50% female) completed a demographic survey, the Traumatic Stress Inventory-2, and the WHO Quality of Life Questionnaire-Brief. Most study participants were abused by Catholic priests. SNAP members reported significantly higher traumatic symptoms and lower overall well-being compared with the general population of people seeking mental health treatment. Men endorsed more symptoms than women on most scales. Older age of the victim at time of abuse was associated with higher symptom scores later in life, but longer duration of abuse was associated with lower symptom scores. The older a SNAP member currently was and the more time has elapsed since the abuse ended, the higher the scores on some scales. This data may add to the knowledge about post-abuse symptoms and functioning in SNAP members, and help in developing future treatment options.

Afternoon Breakout Sessions

Bringing the UN Home: SNAP Leaders and Advocates Discuss the UN’s Handling of the Vatican and What It Could Mean for Future Accountability Efforts—Pam Spees, Laura Raymond, Mary Caplan, Megan Peterson and Miguel Hurtado Calvo—Clark A (CC22A)

In an unprecedented development, two United Nations oversight bodies in Geneva called the Vatican to account for its compliance with two major international treaties: The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment. Both committees found that with respect to widespread and systemic sexual violence in the church, the Vatican was not in compliance with its human rights obligations under these treaties and demanded more action by church officials. Survivors and advocates who were present for these events will share their experiences and discuss what these developments could mean for future efforts around accountability.

Bishop Accountability—Anne Barrett Doyle, Terry McKiernan, Trish McLelland, Suzy Nauman, Kathleen Shaw and Pauline Hodgdon—Jackson Park (main meeting room)

The BishopAccountability.org staff will host an open conversation focusing on survivors’ experience of abuse and recovery.  We will present our recent work on survivor experience in the archives, with an emphasis on Chicago, Wilmington, St. Paul and Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Boston, and Los Angeles.  As a follow-up to our 2013 workshop, we will also present our research about the abuse of vulnerable adults.  Participation of survivors and others will be warmly welcomed.

Women’s Support Group-- Becky Ianni and Mary Dispenza-Field B (CC20B)

Meet with other people who have “walked a mile in your shoes!” Share your feelings and experiences and get some of the affirmation you deserve! This session deals with the unique needs of women as survivors. Society often “blames” the victim for the attack, resulting in additional suffering of guilt and shame. In this session, we will explore ways to educate people about rape and sexual assault and the necessity to report these crimes, regardless of age. The session will end with a self-help support meeting wherein all participants will be able to share, but no one is required to do so. Listening is recognized and appreciated as a gift for those who do not talk. 

Family Support—Mary Ellen Kruger—Field C (CC20C)

Sexual abuse of one family member invariably affect all members of the family. In this session, you can share your stories and feelings about how the abuse of a loved one has affected you, your family, or those around you. This session will tackle the question of “how can we heal from secondary abuse?” and “how do we help a loved one heal?” and will rely on the experiences of those in the group to help provide answers. 

Working with Media to Reach Survivors & Expose Wrongdoers—Joelle Casteix and David Clohessy – DuSable A (CC21A)

This workshop will focus on how talking to the media can not only help victims heal, but also protect others. Practical “not-to’s” will be provided, along with role play exercises. David and Joelle will teach skills to get journalists’ attention, motivate volunteers, stay on message, and reach other survivors. This session will be helpful to survivors, supporters, and attorneys who represent survivors. When the stories of abuse are reported by the media, the positive impact is far reaching. Details will be explained, and participants will receive handouts.  

Beyond Catholic Abuse: Cover-Ups in Other Religious Groups/Non-Religious Institutions—Melanie Sakoda and Amy Smith—DuSable B (CC21B)

The abuse of children and vulnerable adults, and the cover-up of that abuse, is not confined to the Catholic Church. The Orthodox Christian Churches, the Baptist Church, and the United States’ military have also chosen to protect the institution at the expense of survivors. These decisions have created dangerous environments within these groups as well. The panel will discuss the similarities to Catholic abuse, as well as the challenges to advocating for change in the represented groups. 

Acupuncture—Dr. Michael Smith—Skyline Suite

While acupuncture has been used for centuries in the East it is only recently being recognized and used in the West. Dr Smith will discuss how patients’ recovery from PTSD, addictions, depression, etc is enhanced through meditation and acupuncture. Most acupuncture patients experience dramatic and immediate stress reduction. We will be offering demonstration treatments, an ear acupuncture treatment, that is a simple and effective tool to help people heal themselves. Dr Smith is a physician, educator and the retired medical director of Lincoln Treatment Center in New York City.