SNAP applauds a brave survivor of abuse in CT stepping forward after years of pain.
Jacci van Alder, 60, now of Vermont, has made several attempts in the last two years to gain recognition and justice. In our view, each and every survivor who gives of their voice will help another survivor who is sitting in deafening silence. We are happy to share Jacci’s story with her consent to do so.
Like too many others, Alder alleges that she was groomed, gaslighted, beaten, psychologically tortured and sexually molested by the head of her church for more than 10 years. Unlike so many others, it also happened to be her own father. He allowed a teenage boy from the church to begin molesting her at age 4 when he babysat. She endured her father’s misogynistic and narcissistic control, alcoholism, womanizing, encounters with school-age girls, his addiction to porn, his open 10-year affair with his church secretary and the beatings. She got hit with belts, 2 x 4's, hands, fists, and finally attempted strangulation. “It all has to be told," says Alder.
From an early age, Rev. Weeden was grooming her in front of her mother who was too afraid of him to do anything. Her older brother followed suit by torturing her beyond any limits of sibling rivalry, often ending in holes punched and kicked into walls and doors in their home and multiple trips to the ER for stitches. This continued throughout high school.
“Our family moved from parish to parish, whenever his behavior caught up with him," says Alder.
From his ordination in 1958 to his death in 2005, Alder alleges there must have been multiple complaints against Rev. Robert Weeden in all his church communities, yet despite her efforts to convince the United Church of Christ National Chapter of the need for disclosure, they refused.
"This heinous behavior has gone on long enough. Let's make them accountable for their actions like every other criminal in the justice system. To use fear-based religion against children by those who claim to uphold it is proof enough these are sociopaths with no conscience," says Alder.
" I knew I had to do something after reading a book about the BTK serial killer," she added. The story of Dennis Rader is written by his daughter after she helped apprehend him. "It's not my usual genre,” writes Alder from her home in Underhill,VT, "but this family piqued my interest - I wondered how no one around him could see what a monster he was and how he got away with such heinous, psychopathic behavior for decades. The worst of it is, I found myself envious of this daughter because unlike my father, hers was kind and loving to her. This simple emotion made me realize just how screwed up my upbringing was and snapped me into action. "
Alder, who's had on-going psychotherapy for most of her life, admits to having attempted suicide a half dozen times. "How can we truly address National Suicide Prevention when our society won't even address the root causes?"
Alder is working with the International Organization SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) and will be the focus of more upcoming media releases especially in CT as the state looks at a Bill this year to abolish the Statute of Limitations on Child Sexual Abuse, following suit to every other state in their geographical proximity.
Jacci van Alder
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)