IN--Group warns: Praising Hastert may silence other victims
For immediate release: Friday, May 29
I was abused in high school by a popular teacher, Thomas Hodgman (who teaches now at Adrian College in Michigan).
So my heart aches for the victim who was hurt by ex-House speaker Dennis Hastert.
When discussing this case, it's important that Hastert's backers use discretion and compassion so they don't inadvertently cause others who may have been abused to stayed trapped in silence, shame and self-blame.
It's hurtful when well-intentioned adults praise an accused abuser. It makes already-wounded and depressed victims of sexual violence - by any predator - less apt to call police, report abuse, protect others and start healing.
So we call on those who like or believe in Hastert to use caution when they talk about him.
Defend Hastert if you must. But don't attack his accuser. And support Hastert privately and in ways that don't deter others who may have seen, suspected or suffered his crimes into remaining silent.
Don’t do what Senator Mark Kirk has done, saying things like “Our thoughts go out to Dennis’ family” without also expressing compassion for Hastert’s victim.
Some will be skeptical because these disclosures are “old.” But if kids are to be safer from sexual violence, all adults must welcome abuse reports no matter when they surface.
And some have described the charges against Hastert as “relatively minor.” We disagree.
No charge is “minor” if it exposes a child predator. It’s better, of course, if sex offenders are prosecuted for sex offenses. But we’re grateful any time someone who preys on kids or teens is exposed or punished for breaking any law. What matters most is the safety of kids, and kids are safer when sex offenders are publicly exposed.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)