SNAP Supporter & Donor Profile: Finding My Purpose: Larry Antonsen

This profile was written by Patrick Price, Fundraising and Development Manager of SNAP, to honor our courageous and dedicated supporters and donors.

While a sophomore, Larry Antonsen was sexually abused by an Augustinian priest at his local high school. For more than 40 years, Larry blocked the memories of guilt, shame and anger that bubbled deep inside him, for as a staunch Catholic, he was horrified by the abuse he suffered at the hands of a clergyman. However, in 2006, those memories started surfacing, so he called the Chicago Archdiocese, but they said they didn’t handle it because it was an Augustinian priest. They did refer him to another Augustinian priest, who neither believed nor wanted to believe Larry’s story as a survivor of clergy sexual abuse.




I thought the meaning of self-forgiveness was when I saw the word on paper or when I heard someone say it, I felt some comfort.  That's temporary comfort.  I discovered there is more to it for me.
I imagine myself today sitting next to me who is 10 years old.
1) I'm sorry you thought it was your fault.
2) As it continued to happen, I'm sorry you were convinced it was your fault.
3) I'm sorry you felt helpless and terrorized.
4) I'm sorry you lived in fear of him.
5) I'm sorry you lived in fear because of your secret.
6) I'm sorry for a lifetime of guilt and shame.
7) I'm sorry I told you drugs would make it all go away.
8) I'm sorry for telling you to just forget about it.
9) I'm sorry for concluding that staying silent was the best solution.
10) Do you want to know how you turned out?  You're a survivor success story.
I imagine this as a conversation between me today and me at 10 years old.  Numbers 7,8,9 are direct apologies.  I wonder all the time what it would be like to have this conversation in person.


Double standards at the Vatican?

The speed at which the Vatican has accepted the resignation of Michel Aupetit, the archbishop of Paris, has raised eyebrows, particularly in contrast with the pope's reluctance to deal with others who had mishandled sexual abuse cases.

The official reason for Aupetit's resignation was an "ambiguous" relationship with a woman in the past - without any suggestion of sexual abuse, only the suspicion that the relationship may have been a bit too close.   This aspect is underplayed in an otherwise thoughtful article in The Tablet, which mentions "flimsy" sexual allegations.   The article correctly details other reasons, namely  Aupetit's glaring lack of "human, political and cultural skills" as the main reason for his resignation.

GivingTuesday 2021 Fundraiser: Advocating for the End of Child Sexual Abuse

This November we have a great chance to bring the needs, wants, and asks of survivors to the world stage in a big way! SNAP and leading advocacy organizations, such as Darkness to Light, RAINN, Together for Girls, and the Army of Survivors, will recognize November 18th as the international #EndChildSexAbuseDay.

On November 18, SNAP, as part of the steering group for the Keep Kids Safe coalition, will release our Federal Blueprint for action. A key part of this blueprint, and something that members of our SNAP network have demanded for years, is the importance of a federal investigation into institutions that perpetuate abuse and cover-up, like the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, and others.

The coalition is proposing that a “Keep Kids Safe National Summit” on the “Prevention, Healing and Justice of Sexual Violence Against Children and Adolescents” be convened by the White House in 2022. We believe it is critical that survivors of sexual abuse are able to attend this summit and share their experiences and stories with thought leaders, researchers, federal, state, and local leaders, and others from allied organizations around the U.S.

SNAP Supporter & Donor Profile: Telling One’s Story: Gail Howard

This profile was written by Patrick Price, Fundraising and Development Manager of SNAP, to honor our courageous and dedicated supporters and donors.

Upon the release of the clergy sexual abuse exposé in the Boston Globe in 2002, Gail Howard was totally shocked by what she read. Why? Years earlier Gail had been sexually assaulted by her own pastor, and throughout those years, she believed that she was the only person to have ever experienced such a trauma. “I thought I was alone,” Gail says, “but then I knew I was not the only one!” In 2004, she found others who had undergone such abuse when she became part of the Voice of the Faithful, a group seeking to support victims and reform the Church from within Norwalk, Connecticut. Meeting to tell her story was, as she put it, “super scary.” Eventually, with encouragement from Voice of the Faithful, she found the inner strength to share her story in public. Speaking away from Church property, as Voice of the Faithful was not welcomed by the Church, Gail, with her husband by her side, shared the horror of what she had experienced. She used a pseudonym that day to protect her mother, who never knew about her daughter’s sexual abuse.

Sample Graphics and Social Media Messages for #EndChildSexAbuseDay on November 18

Below are some sample messages and graphics that you can use on your social media channels to spread the word about #EndChildSexAbuseDay on November 18. 

Sample Letter for Federal Legislators in Support of KKS Blueprint

Below is a sample letter that you can use in outreach to federal elected officials to encourage them to show support for the Federal Blueprint and recognize #EndChildSexualAbuseDay. 

My name is Chris O'Leary and I'm a survivor of the Catholic sex abuse crisis.

(Published with permission from Chris O'Leary)
October 28, 2021
Yesterday, I happened to hear my Senator from Missouri, Josh Hawley, grill United States Attorney General Merrick Garland about the handling of a parent's protest, to a school board, regarding the alleged sexual assault of a female student in a school bathroom, the alleged cover-up of that attack, and the Attorney General and his department's publication of a memo regarding the handling of those protests and protestors.
As a parent, and survivor of sexual abuse and assault, myself, I couldn't help but sympathize with the concerns, and heartbreak, of both a parent and a child, put in such a situation.
But, as Senator Hawley went on, and on, a thought struck me, "Where was that passion and intensity when I went to, then Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley for help in September 2018? As a result of his launching an investigation of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. When I was completely ignored by the Senator and repeatedly put off and blown off by his staff. I can only assume in what was, ultimately, a cynical attempt by Senator Hawley to help the Archdiocese of St. Louis cover up the past sexual abuse of children, Timothy Cardinal Dolan's knowledge of that abuse, and the present abuse of the abused by the Archdiocese of St. Louis."
As a result, it was more than a bit ironic -- rich -- to hear Senator Hawley harangue the Attorney General of the United States for his alleged failure to monitor, supervise, and inform himself of the actions of his staff, given that I had an all too similar experience with the Senator, and his staff when he was Attorney General of the State of Missouri.

For All Those Times

by: ©️ Elizabeth Shane 01.10.21 (CSA Survivor – author of Silhouette of a Songbird)


For all those times
You stripped away my layers
Made me taste forbidden fruit
Forced my hands to do your work
Penetrated beyond boundaries
Hands snaked around my neck ready to silence the sound

For all those times
I never said no.

For all those times
I endured unwanted shadows creeping inside
Felt cold metal of a barrelled gun pushed against my head
Suffered perversion of injustice
Paralysed my breath through restrained fear
Offered my services on a plate

For all those times
I never said no.

For all those times
I quickened my footsteps down a dim lit path
Criss-crossed patterns in the road to shake away the followers
Barricaded my sanctuary through blockades of furniture
Feigned sleep to hasten your desire
Gave you permission without speaking a word

For all those times
I never said no.

For all those times
I didn’t dare scream
Kept quiet
Stayed silent
Never fought back
Ever told

For all those times
I never said no.

For all those times
I felt special
Chosen by you
Thought you loved me
Wanted your attention
Asked for more

For all those times
I never said no.

For all those times
I trusted you
Loved you
Despised you
Feared you
Missed you

For all those times
I never said no.

For all those times
I trembled to speak
Felt ashamed
Pushed the knife deeper in
Faded into darkness
Shattered into broken pieces

For all those times
I never said no

For all those times
I am haunted daily
I speak out
Fear will no longer silence me
My voice shall be heard
Truth will resonate

For all those times
I never said no.

For all those times
I wasn’t asked
I give myself permission
My choice
My body
My right

For all those times
I never said no.

For all those times
I longed to say stop
I am the adult
With ownership
Of my freedom

For all those times
I never said no.

For all those times
You think you won
Of lives destroyed
We will stand strong
United in power
Together as one

For all these times
We will say no.

Letters from Europe (No 3, October 2021) The sexual abuse of children in the French Catholic Church since the 1950s

by: Marc Artzrouni - SNAP Europe 

Part 2: Reflections on the Independent Commission Findings



In our first article on sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church we reported on the ongoing work done by the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE in French).  The CIASE was commissioned by the French Conference of Bishops and is headed by Jean-Marc Sauvé, a retired senior civil servant.   

The Commission is composed of respected professionals: jurists, psychologists, health professionals, theologians, etc.  Their 500-page final report was released on October 5 and the main findings have reverberated around the world.  The Commission has documented the cases of 2,900 to 3,200 priests who have abused  216,000 minors and vulnerable people since the 1950s. (The figure is 320,000 if you add "lay" perpetrators who teach, coach, or advise within Catholic institutions).

These numbers have sent shockwaves through French society - with a headline in Le Monde (the French equivalent of The New York Times) that reads: "Pedocriminality: a damning report for the Church."   Note how to its credit Le Monde (and other French media)  has replaced "pedophilia" with a word that leaves no doubt: a "liking" of children that is acted upon is a crime.   

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