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.
Throughout his years of having an extremely poor self-image, Larry turned to alcohol to try to sedate his feelings, but the anger never really left him. Finally, Larry’s wife, who is in Larry’s words, “my biggest supporter,” encouraged him to find help before his family fell to pieces. Scanning for help on the internet, Larry came across SNAP and placed a call to learn how SNAP might be able to help him. He spoke to Barbara Blaine, who invited him to attend a survivor support group meeting in Chicago, where Larry lived. Larry went to the meeting with his supportive wife by his side. As he participated in more group meetings, Larry discovered that he was not alone as a survivor of clergy sexual abuse and that he in no way was responsible for what happened to him. With this group of supporters, Larry began to heal. He also joined and attended Alcoholics Anonymous, so he could address his anger and other emotions that were spiraling him out of control and harming his family. As a testament to his healing journey, Larry has been sober now for 26 years.
Larry continues his active involvement with SNAP, serving as a dedicated SNAP leader for the Chicago survivor support group for the past five years. He also assists with SNAP’s Help Line. “I have found my life’s purpose,” Larry says. He enjoys his service to others who have struggled with clergy sexual abuse, listening to their stories and reminding them that they are not alone and guiding them to find their own paths to self-healing. Larry has also participated in SNAP protests against clergy abuse in Chicago, St. Louis, Carbondale, Evansville, Indianapolis and Louisville. He has also done numerous interviews as he wishes to ensure that no other child or adult ever experiences what he has to live with every day.
Larry is also a longtime sustaining SNAP donor in order to keep the mission, vision and values of our organization alive to help those who thought that they would never find a means to heal themselves.