2007 STORY #47: CALL ME LUCKY
My story starts out like they all do... I was molested by my parish priest when I was 8 years old. Even though it was 51 years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. Apparently, he did the same thing to an older girl & she reported him. That`s when they transferred him out of the parish. I found that out when my nun teacher questioned me as to why he pulled me out of class one day. Other than that nun, I told no one about it until I was 16 years old and told me best friend. When I was 20, I told my parents while I was drunk.
Now, I`m much more vocal about it. However, it was something I could push to the back of my mind UNTIL the clergy abuse scandals, when it was thrown in us survivors` faces almost on a daily basis. I have all the classic abuse symptoms--married 3 times, overweight, functional alcoholic.
Because of the constant "ripping open of the wound" during the height of the clergy scandals, I felt I finally wanted to connect to fellow survivors, and joined SNAP. I heard of a SNAP gathering in Tampa, FL about 3 years ago, and decided to drive the hour and a half to hear what other abuse victims had to say.
When I arrived early, I was warmly greeted and told to sit anywhere. Because I want to be "where the action is", I sat at the front table. Unbeknownst to me, it was the "head" table with all the SNAP "Big Shots". They assured me I was welcome to sit there and were all wonderful to talk to. They reminded all of us that the perpetrators had stolen our childhood. I never thought of it in that way, but truer words were never spoken!
Then, it became "Story Time". I listened to a dozen or so stories from my fellow survivors. I heard of people (men & women) who were abused for YEARS. I heard of victims of incest who went to their priest for counseling, and were then ABUSED by them. I heard all the same symptoms of abuse that I had. When I finally spoke, I could hardly speak, because I felt SO bad for everyone, and told them my abuse was ONLY a one time occurrence. They assured me it carried the same weight as theirs, but I don`t think so.
NEVER in my wildest dreams did I think I would walk away from that meeting feeling LUCKY!! But that`s exactly how I still feel today. I cried all the way home that day, and thanked God that it only happened once with me, and prayed for all the other poor survivors I met who suffered multiple abuses. I can`t even imagine that SOB priest doing it more than once to me.
So, THANK YOU SNAP and you fellow survivors for helping me heal. I`m the luckiest person in the organization!