Find your local SNAP chapter and events. View the ground rules for support group meetings.
1. What is SNAP and what is your involvement with the organization? SNAP has the word "survivors" in it - does this imply that some victims of child abuse by priests do not survive the experience?
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (www.survivorsnetwork.org) is a self-help group that supports people who have been victimized by clergy, and helps them try to pick up the pieces of their lives, heal and move forward. We also cooperate with news media and provide reliable information when we can, as a way to help ourselves recover and prevent future abuse.
Like most people, my life largely revolves around my family and my full time job. But in my "off hours," I've had the honor of being SNAP's national director for the past decade.
Unfortunately, some men and women do not survive childhood sexual abuse. While every victim's experience is tragic, the stories of those who commit suicide as a result of abuse are among the most heart wrenching. Recent articles by Stan Finger of the Wichita Eagle, for example, chronicle the trauma of Janet and Horace Patterson, whose son Eric was molested by a priest. Many of us in the survivors movement consider ourselves fortunate to have endured our victimization and remained alive and sane. Some have not been so lucky.
- Acknowledge your courage. It takes courage to acknowledge that we’ve been abused and it is not easy to even admit it to ourselves. Just looking at this web site is a big step.
- Know that you are not alone. There are many more survivors of abuse by priests, and other clergy members, than any of us wants to believe. One study from University of Chicago estimates that there are probably about 100,000 survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the U.S. Most of us believed that we were the only victim of the priest that abused us. Over time we have learned that there is rarely, if ever, only one victim.
It can be a daunting task to begin looking for a therapist to assist in the journey of recovery from sexual abuse. It may be difficult to know what to ask, what not to ask, what are generally appropriate treatment parameters, etc. Since it is important to work with someone you trust, as well as someone you "click" with, these guidelines may be helpful in selecting the right person for you.
What are they?
Flashbacks are memories of past traumas. They may take the form of pictures, sounds, smells, body sensations, feelings or the lack of them (numbness). Many times there is no actual visual or auditory memory. One may have the sense of panic, being trapped, feeling powerless with no memory stimulating it. These experiences can also happen in dreams.