Category Archives: paedophilia

The apology of Pope Francis

Pope Francis apologises and asks for forgiveness

Pope Francis apologises and asks for forgiveness

I have been totally consumed with completing a uni assignment for the last few days and haven’t had time to write anything.  When my thoughts turned to writing earlier this afternoon, for the first time in weeks I drew an absolute blank – zip, nada, nothing.  So, I sent a silent request out to the Universe for a topic.

Several hours after this request, I sat down with my computer and caught up on the news I have missed while I have been researching and writing my ethics assignment – and what do you know? – the first news item I read has provided my topic for today’s post.

Pope Francis asks for forgiveness for child sex abuse by priests, says sanctions ‘must be imposed’

Hmm… with a headline like that, how could I not read the article?

To be clear, I am not a Catholic, nor do I know the Pope personally, or in any other capacity, however, I have read many articles expounding his virtues and generally indicating that he is a pretty decent bloke.  Now he has apologised for all those ‘evil’ deeds members of the Catholic ministry have enacted upon children, so that must mean he is a good man, mustn’t it?

Well, maybe not.

Yes, it is, theoretically, a good thing that he has done by apologising, however, I don’t personally feel that the apology goes quite far enough.  You see, although Pope Francis has said the Church “will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem and the sanctions that must be imposed” he has also indicated that those sanctions only relate to the priests who abused children.  He has made no mention of what will be done about the many, many more within the Church who protected those men and worked hard to discredit and discount the victims.

It is all well and good to impose ‘sanctions’ on the perpetrators, even though the form those ‘sanctions’ will take has not been elaborated, but while there are people within the Church willing to aid and abet “…the evil which some priests…” have done, then it’s a hollow apology.

Take Australia’s own Cardinal George Pell.  He is now Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy – a bloody good reward for his diligent efforts to cover up child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in Australia, don’t you think? 

Although there will be an endless number of people ‘out there’ who will be thinking something along the lines of, “Wow, wasn’t that a wonderful thing Pope Francis did, apologising to all those abused children?  They should all be feeling much better now that it’s all in the past, forgiven and forgotten” (believe me, there are people who really think like this), I find it hard to believe or accept such an apology when the people in his inner circle, those hand-picked by the Pope himself, have spent so much time and energy fighting to silence victims over the last few decades.

I can only hope and pray Pope Francis will ‘see the light’ and also ensure he weeds out all pro-child abuse supporters from ALL levels of the Catholic Church.

 

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I’m sorry for my hypocrisy

I'm sorry for my hypocrisy

I haven’t always been so true,

No one knows this more than you.

When your child was abused too,

I said, “This is what you should do.”

 

“You should definitely speak out!”

My words becoming a shout.

You should’ve given me a clout

And said, “Go sort yourself out.”

 

For yet, and all the while,

I was drowning in denial,

That though I continued to smile,

I was protecting a paedophile.

 

You slowly drifted away,

Saying, ‘’”We’re much too busy today,

For the kids to come and play.”

Our friendship was in decay.

 

In the intervening years,

I have shed so many tears,

For my cynicism and sneers,

Arising from my inner fears.

 

I miss you with a passion,

My heart and soul are ashen,

But not for my inaction,

We would still have interaction.

 

So, here for all to see,

Is my full apology,

For the person I used to be,

And my ignorant hypocrisy.

Thanks for thinking badly of me

Thank you for providing opportunities to learn & grow

Thank you for providing opportunities to learn & grow

“To all of the people along the way who hurt me, lied to me, betrayed me and broke my heart…

You unknowingly pointed me in the direction of my own North Star.  Without the messes, I wouldn’t have a message.

You gave me more than you ever take from me, so thank you.”

 

My friend posted this on Facebook yesterday.  I instantly connected with it because it is something that I have believed in, and lived by, for quite a while now.

People often tell me I should be angry – at my father, at other adults who did not protect me, at the family and friends that have, as a result of the legal process against my father and his subsequent death, turned their backs on me.

What use to me is anger?

I spent the first 38 years of my life being angry – angry that I had to live this life.  Every one of my emotions expressed itself as anger – even when I didn’t ‘feel’ angry – and it was a horrible existence.

For years I wondered ‘why me?’  What did I do to deserve all of the pain I felt, both physically and psychologically?  What had I done to cause my father to be so angry?  What was that I did that made him sexually abuse me?  Why did I have to be born?

From the very second I made the decision that I mattered, that I was important, and that I was going to stand up and do my very best to protect other children from experiencing what I had experienced, my anger started dissipating.  I started to look at the crap dished out to me by other people in a whole new light.  My perspective changed, and so did my attitude.

I no longer approached everything from the ‘why me?’ perspective.  Instead, I looked hard for ‘what can I learn from this?’  Let me tell you, it was hard, unbelievably hard, but it was so amazingly worth it.

Why was it worth it?  Because the more I looked for the lessons in what I was experiencing, the less others controlled me.  The more I learnt about myself – what were my thoughts, what were my feelings, what were my beliefs, what were my vales – the less the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and values of others that I had unknowingly adopted as my own, impacted me.  The power of other people to hurt me reduced dramatically.

I had always believed the world would end if I dared to tell, or that Dad would make good on his threats to kill me, or that the family would implode if the secret ever got out.

Well, the family did implode – but I survived!

There are numerous people out there who would be horrified to know that I write about my experiences of child sexual abuse.  They are the family and friends who chose to protect my father and the family’s public image.  Not one of these people know all of the facts.  These are the people that will do whatever is within their power to stop me from getting my message out there, just as they have used a variety of actions and threats to try to stop me, and those who have supported me, in the past.

There was a time when having the possibility of conflict hanging over my head would have sent me into a tail spin, if not a complete melt down.  I would have been flustered, depressed, and upset, but mostly I would have been angry that others ‘just don’t understand’.

Now, however, I know that the actions of others are not a reflection of me.  In fact, their actions have no relevance to me at all, because the actions of others belong to them, and those actions are motivated by the thoughts and feelings of the people that carry them out.  Just because other people behave badly towards me, does not mean that I am a bad person.

About six months into the legal journey, I had to go on medication because I was barely able to keep myself breathing, let alone be a mother, a partner,  and continue to hold down a full-time job.  Over the next 18 months my ability to function improved, and my outlook on life had really started to change.  Everything went down hill very quickly after Dad passed away.

To be honest, I didn’t even really notice.  It was my partner that made me sit back and take stock and see how I was returning to my old,  comfortable, but totally unhelpful, ways of coping.

After much discussion, we identified the turning point.

My brother was speaking to one of my father’s friends the day after Dad died.  The conversation was going well until my father’s friend, thinking that my brother did not support my decision to speak out, said to my brother, “Well, your sister should have thought about the consequences before she went to the police…”

This statement from my father’s friend sent me right back to square one.

If other people said bad things about me, then they believed I was bad; if they believed I was a bad person, then it must be true that I am a bad person; if it is true that I am a bad person, then I must believe that I am a bad person.  So, if anyone indicated that they thought badly about me, I believed them.  This was the way my mind worked for 38 years.

The challenge was, did I want to go back to that way of thinking, or did I want to continue the work I had been doing and reclaim the progress I had made in the two years following my decision to speak out?

I had worked far too hard, and experienced way too much pain, to go back now.

This meant I had to analyse the way I processed things in my mind.  I had to ask myself, “Am I a bad person just because someone thinks or says that I am?”

The answer is a resounding, “NO!”

What other people think is just their opinion.  Just because they, or I, think something does not make it true.

The next step was to ask myself if I, taking away all of the opinions of others, thought I was a bad person?

No, I don’t.

I am generous, honest, loyal, trustworthy, open, friendly, loving… and a whole heap of other adjectives.  I say what I mean, and do what I say.  What you see is what you get.  I don’t say this to one person and that to someone else.  I don’t judge people by what they have or don’t have, do or don’t do, or any of their personal preferences.  I call a spade a spade, but I am also able to be tactful and understanding.

(Gosh, do you know how hard that would have been to say or write not that long ago?  I have come a long way!).

Anyway, my long-winded point is this – it does not matter what any one else thinks or says about you.  It is their opinion.  It is only your opinion of yourself that matters.

What the opinion of others is good for, however, is as an aid to identifying those parts of you that are not truly you, that you have taken on from someone else.

How do you know if something is truly you or not?  Sit with for a while and it will either feel comfortable or uncomfortable – it will either fit with your values or it will irritate and itch and not feel ‘right’.

It is in this way, that people who do not like us, who hurt us, lie to us etc., can teach us the most wonderful things about ourselves and our purpose in life.  So, just like the meme posted by my friend on Facebook, be grateful to those people for the lessons they lead us to, and in doing so, such people and their actions can no longer have a negative impact on your life.

 

 

Becoming whole by finding all the pieces

Pieces of me

Pieces of me

One of the difficulties we have in ‘becoming whole’ is that others hold pieces of our story.

As children, we do not have the capacity to understand the full context in which our abuse occurs.  As we get older, and start to question who and what we are, we sometimes feel we are not ‘whole’ – that we are not normal, and there are parts of us missing.

It was not until I wanted to heal, (as opposed to just trying to get through each day), that I discovered other people often held the key to real understanding.

Over the years, I had received snippets of information from relatives, friends of my parents, people who were children when I was, but I had never consciously put these pieces into the jig-saw that was my life as a child.  It was only when I had made a conscious decision to become ‘whole’ that these pieces of ‘me’ fell into place.

My perspective was that of a child.  The perspective of others was the background and context.

Going through the darkest years, at times it really did feel like someone had upended a box of jig-saw pieces, scattering them everywhere.  For quite a while I did not have the energy or the inclination to sift through them and start putting the pieces together.

Once I started, however, I noticed subtle changes in me even after placing only a few pieces.  Suddenly things were starting to make sense.  Things like why my family was the way it was, how others could not see the monster I could see, why my cries for help went unnoticed, and why I always felt so confused and angry.  All of this understanding relied on the information others had given me.

No longer was I trying to make sense of my life purely from a child’s perspective, with a child’s limited understanding.

Although that statement might, at first, seem strange, the truth is, I was trying to comprehend what had happened, but the only knowledge of it I had was through the eyes of a child.  Even as an adult, the only experience of it I knew was my own.  Because I was a child living through it, I did not have all the details, all of the context, or all of the broader understanding that comes with age.

The years of painstakingly seeking out, and sorting through, all of the pieces of the puzzle were hard (a HUGE understatement), but I did, eventually, get through it.

Actively seeking the pieces of me held by other people, left me open to hurt, embarrassment, and shame.  At times it felt as though I was once again a child experiencing abuse – and in a sense I was.  I found I had to revisit what had happened to me time and time and time again to make sense of the new information – to see what was happening through the eyes of the person supplying this ‘new’ information.

There are still pieces that are missing.  There are still things I can’t make sense of.  There are still questions I need answered.

The difference now, however, is that the hardest work has been done, and new pieces of information no longer push me to the brink of oblivion.

A large percentage of the puzzle is together.  There is now room on the table for the rest of the pieces to lie separate from each other, instead of piled in a heap with no breathing room.  I already have a good sense of the background and context, so the correct placement of the new pieces occurs more quickly than before, and I don’t need to revisit and relive what happened in order to make sense of it all (well, not as much anyway).

These days, I can function reasonably similarly to a ‘normal’ person.  I can look at the sky and enjoy it’s blueness and not be triggered by it.  I can smile.  I can laugh, and really mean it.  I can do most of the things I want to without feeling like I need to have someone else’s permission.

Yes, there is still work to be done, but it is no longer vital to my survival like it used to be.  There is no longer real risk of harm to myself if I can’t get the pieces together.  There is enough of the puzzle completed to be able to stand back and see the bigger picture.

Who holds the pieces of you?

Acknowledging the pain of others

Growing through pain

Growing through pain

People like me, who write about their experiences of child sexual abuse, do not intentionally set out to cause other people pain.  Unfortunately, however, we do.

When we are lucky enough to have people in our lives who are supportive, and willing to try to understand the impact of what we have lived through, it is sometimes difficult to balance the work of creating awareness and the desire not to hurt those we care about and who care about us.

Some may call us insensitive, or selfish, in our desire/need to speak out.  Personally, I am not insensitive to the pain I cause.  I know it is there.  It hurts me to know it is the result of my actions.  However, I do not deliberately set out to hurt people.

Why do I write?

I write because I have to write.  Writing is something I have done for most of my life, although until 2010, all of my writing was in secret.  During the darkest period of healing, from 2011 until recently, I tried to keep my writing hidden and yet still raise awareness of the long-term impacts of child-sexual abuse.  I did this because I know what I write can cause pain to people close to me.

Why did I have to ‘come out’?

Trying to write as someone else, using a fake name, and fake persona, really starts messing with your head.  Particularly when you have spent two and a half solid years smashing down the barriers and vowing to break the silence.  I found myself questioning my ethics and my values.  There I was, telling all and sundry about how important it was to speak out, but hiding my true identity.  I started to feel like I used to – that I had to have a face that I showed the world, and another that had to be hidden at all costs.  There was no integrity in that.

If I wanted to be true to me, and put my money where my mouth was, so to speak, I had to make a decision to either back off and remain silent, or be truly open and honest.

Honesty won.

The flip-side of this, of course, is now those close to me are confronted with my writing on a day-to-day basis.  The end result is pain.

Why do I have to write about child sexual abuse?

There are a couple of reasons for this – first, I write what I know.  It is so much easier for me to write from experience than to write from imagination.  Tied in with this, is the healing writing brings for me.  Yes, even my short stories are generally dark, but usually it is because something inside me needs to be fixed and it just appears on the page in front of me.

Second, I write about child sexual abuse to raise awareness – not that child sexual abuse happens, but that the impacts of repeated trauma as a child never go away – they do lessen in strength, but they NEVER go away.

Third, I write about child sexual abuse because I know that while I sit here, in my comfy chair, in a warm and cosy house, with all of my basic needs met, there are children being sexually abused, beaten, neglected, sold into prostitution, and having all sorts of other horrendous things done to them at this very moment.  I cannot sit here in silence.  Awareness needs to be raised.  Something needs to be done, and all I can do at this point in time is write.

Children are so very precious.

I am sorry for the pain I cause.  I am sorry that the things I write also brings back bad memories for you.  However, to those close to me, there are some  things I would like to say:

  • You are not responsible for what happened to me.  The person who abused me – the person that could have chosen not to abuse me – is no longer with us, but it is important to understand that the responsibility for what happened was his, and his alone.  The rest of us have been involuntarily caught up in the consequences of his behaviour.  Do not blame yourself.
  • I am well.  I know the last few years have seen me crash to the deepest depths, but right here, right now, today, I am well, and I have been for some months now.
  • Just because I write about what happened to me does not mean it is the only thing I think about – it no longer consumes me the way that it did.
  • The past cannot be changed – it is what it is.  All we can do is enjoy the here and now, and have hope for the future.  My way of doing that is by sharing my experiences.  You never know, someone else might find them useful.

I am truly grateful for the support I have around me.  Knowing that I hurt them is not a nice feeling.  If I could wave a magic want to erase it, I would.  For now, all I can do is love the people around me and support them as they have supported me.

My heartfelt thanks to the ‘inner circle’ who have seen me at my worst and are hanging in there to see me at my best.  I love you all from the bottom of my heart.

Thoughts on the legalisation of paedophilia

Child Sexual Abuse

Child Sexual Abuse

Earlier today, I reblogged a post from Anna Waldherr at A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse, about the reclassification of paedophilia by the American Psychiatric Association in their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and the possible legalisation of paedophilia.

Shock, horror, anger, disgust, mortification, disbelief… the list of initial feelings and emotions is/was pretty much endless.  Coming from the perspective of having lived through years of child sexual abuse, the last thing you want to hear about is the possibility of paedophilia being legalised.

However, to assess the situation as rationally as possible, it is necessary to put aside personal bias.  I have to say, this has been quite a difficult task, not the least because every journal article, newspaper article, book, study analysis etc., that I have since read (hurriedly, I have to admit), has caused my body a large amount of physical distress, to mention nothing about my state of mind.

Regardless, I am going to at least attempt a reasonably rational assessment of the topic.

For those of you who don’t know what the DSM is, it is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States – and also the basic mental health diagnostic tool used by mental health professionals in Australia.

To be clear, in general terms, to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder in Australia, you have to meet the criteria set out by the American Psychiatric Association in the DSM.  Therefore, any changes to the DSM affects mental health patients in Australia.

So, DSM V now makes a distinction between a paraphilia ( sexual interests in objects, situations, or individuals that are highly atypical – see Wikipedia for a list) and a paraphilic disorder.  Paedophilia is a paraphilia.

What this change means is that a person (paedophile) can only be diagnosed with a mental health disorder if they have a paraphilia that is currently causing distress or impairment to themselves, or personal harm or risk of harm to others (see Highlights of Changes from DSM-IV-TR to DSM-5).  The most basic way to explain this is that if a person THINKS about paedophilia but does not ACT on it, then there is no mental health problem.

Now, this might cause some readers a bit of concern, but I guess a drastic analogy might be that just because I think about ‘meowing’ it does not make me a cat, nor does it mean I have any kind of mental health disorder (?).

How does this link with the legalisation of paedophilia?

It seems quite a leap, doesn’t it, to say that just because there is a change to the mental health diagnosis of a paedophile, that paedophilia should be made legal?

Well, apparently not.

In my brief reading today, I have discovered quite a number of articles in which so-called ‘experts’ make the argument that paedophilia is a sexual preference – just like homosexuality or heterosexuality – or even, bestiality.  The argument continues, that if we (society) was wrong to criminalise homosexuality, then it is possible that we are wrong in criminalising paedophilia.  (The diagnostic change is, in some circles, being heralded as the first step in decriminalisation).

This may be a sound argument.

However, because a large percentage (if not the majority?) of paedophilia is undertaken with children under the age of 12, I find it extremely difficult to believe that the children involved would have the competency to provide informed consent to someone having sex with them.

Given the results of numerous studies on the long-term impacts of child sexual abuse, and the personal experience of knowing that unless you have lived through it there is no way you could possibly comprehend what it does to you, not just mentally, but also physically, then the possibility that a child would be able to factor those consequences, even at the age of 15, into their decision becomes even more unlikely.

Is my perspective slanted with a Western bias?  Possibly, but even studies that are coming out of countries in which it is the cultural norm for adults to have sexual relations with children (yes, such countries do exist) are showing that there are devastating long-term impacts for the children.

From the perspective of a ‘survivor’, I do have to question the motivation of those who argue in favour of legalising paedophilia, or who minimise the impact of child sexual abuse on children – are they motivated by their own desire to engage in sexual acts with children?

This is my point of view.  You are welcome to disagree.

Overcoming the World, Part 3 – Pedophilia Redefined

It will take me some time to formulate a response to this, but in the meantime, I am reblogging this post for others to consider.

ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse

A change in the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) heralds a trend towards destigmatizing (and ultimately legalizing) pedophilia.

Those who are sexually attracted to children but have not yet acted on their desires are no longer classified as having a psychiatric condition [1].  Only if such persons prove harmful or dangerous will they be diagnosed as having “pedophilia syndrome”.

This raises the possibility that molested children will soon have the legal burden of proving they suffered any harm from the abuse. In fact, it foreshadows a time, not so far in the future, when child molesters will not be prosecutable at all. The stomach roils in disgust.

Vernon Quinsey (professor emeritus in psychology at Queen’s University, Ontario) and Hubert Van Gijseghem (psychologist and retired professor from the University of Montreal) are two of the “experts” who have advised legislators that pedophilia is a…

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