Tag Archives: Anger

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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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.

 

 

Why Lie?

Why lie?

Why lie?

Dear Ms Bréagadóir,

You stood there, looked me in the eye, showing concern, and that you cared. Surrounded, as we were, by hypocrites, I took your consideration at face value, because I had seen no involuntary withdrawal, nothing at all to indicate you were anything other than genuine.

In the following weeks, I discovered you were, in fact, being false, accumulating ammunition, and lying your scrawny freaking arse off!

I have no idea why you felt the need to lie.  It would have been so much better if you had been honest, and told me you didn’t want to speak to me.  So many people there that day wanted nothing to do with me, and I was okay with that. They made it very clear that I was so much less than pond scum, and it was their right to do so.  Apparently, you also felt that way, so why pretend?  Why stand there and tell lies?  Why betray me and add more pain to the hurt I was already burdened with?

To say I am disappointed is a mighty understatement.

So, you don’t believe me?  Who cares?  Ninety-nine point nine percent of everyone who was around us in that moment don’t believe me either.  My respect for them, however, is in tact.  Why?  Because they did not lie.  They did not pretend to have any concern or consideration for me, or my feelings, at all. They were up-front and honest – they don’t like me, they don’t believe me, and most of them even hate me.  So?  They are entitled to their opinion.

You, however, stood right in front of me and expressed disgust at the actions being described to you.  You blatantly lied about your knowledge, and that of others.  You told me we should keep in touch.  You hugged me.  You expressed concern.  You reminisced about the ‘good old days’ and things I had done for you, and that we had done together, in the past.

All the while, I now know, you were being fraudulent.  Everyone, I have been told, knew everything there was to know about what was going on – from one person’s perspective, at least – and they had also spent many an hour discussing the situation and bad-mouthing me and those who support me.  You, I now know, participated in those conversations, and many that have been had since that day.  Your thoughts and feelings of the situation were in total opposition to mine, and yet you deliberately set out to make me think otherwise.

Did you find it funny? Was it ‘good value’ from a practical joke point of view? Did you get plenty of mileage from the ‘hilarity’ of deceiving me?

How lucky for you that you weren’t the one molested and raped.  Imagine what it would have been like if you had been.  Have you ever wondered, what if it is true?  Have you ever considered what it might be like for someone to experience that?

Your mother asked me once if I would ever take any action.  At the time of the conversation, I said I didn’t think so.  I told her I believed he would have to account for his actions to someone other than me – my meaning was to God, or some other Higher Power.

Now I wonder how you will account for your actions.  What will you say when it is time for you to atone for your life on earth?  How will you excuse your duplicity?  What reasons will you provide?

I wish you well when the time comes.

Regards,

Fírinne

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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Hear no evil

Hear no evil

Hear no evil

“Seriously, why can’t all you ‘survivors’ just shut the fuck up?  Why do you have to ruin people’s lives?  I mean, it all happened years ago, right?  So, why can’t you just get over it?  Why can’t you leave it be?  Why do you have to drag it all up, and destroy other people?”

“Steve!” Enid exclaimed.  “Don’t be so rude!”

“Oh, that’s okay, Enid.  Steve is entitled to his opinion.”

“But…”

“Enid, don’t be embarrassed.  There a lot of people out there who think and feel just like Steve.  So, Steve, do you really want to know why we ‘survivors’ speak out?  Or, are you just letting off steam?”

“Oh, I’d really like to know.  I am so sick of hearing about people having a good old whinge because they were abused as a child.  I wish you’d all go die in a hole together somewhere, you know?  You’re all a mob of sooks – wimps who can’t take a well-deserved thrashing, and now want everyone else to pay.”

“Really?  Steve, you have a daughter, right?”

“Yep.”

“And how old is she?”

“Four.”

“And you wouldn’t dream of having sex with her right?”

“Are you kidding?  She’s my daughter, for fuck’s sake!”

“True, but some people do have sex with their children, and even when the kids are younger than your daughter.  All you have to do is pick up any newspaper and you will see it is happening all the time.”

“I hadn’t really noticed.”

“Anyway, you knew my father quite well, didn’t you?”

“Yeah, that’s why I reckon you’re lying.  He wouldn’t have done any of the things you say he done.”

“Ah, but he did.  And his favourite age for young girls was six years old – not much older than your daughter.  Most of his friends have young daughters.  He would spend lots of time with their parents and, in the process, lots of time with the girl.  He would tell the parents he could mind their daughter if ever they needed time out…”

“Like he did for us?”

“Yep, just like that.  Over time, usually a few years, he would then start making the girl feel special – praise her for doing things that pleased him, giving her special treats, treating her like she was a little princess.  If they were a little older, he would play on their budding sensuality, flirt with them, tease them to make them blush, touch them ever so slightly here and there to get them used to being near him.  Talk dirty, occasionally.  I’m sure you’ve seen this happen?”

“Like he was doing with Jessie?”

“Exactly.  His favourite thing of all, was to take them away for a weekend or school holidays – camping or something similar – take them to somewhere they’d never been before.  All in the name of education, of course.”

“Didn’t he take Margaret to the city once?”

“Yes, he did.”

“That doesn’t mean he did anything.”

“True, but what if I am not lying, and he did?  How would you feel then?”

“Dunno.”

“From the way you have spoken before, Steve, it sounds like you hate me for speaking out?”

“Yeah, you killed him.”

“You are entitled to your opinion, but what if the things I am telling you are true?  How would you feel about me if I hadn’t spoken out?  If I hadn’t brought this to people’s attention, and he had continued grooming your daughter?  What if he had put his fingers in your daughter’s vagina because I hadn’t broken the silence and tried to stop him molesting other girls?  What if he progressed to raping her?  How would you feel about me then?  If I had known what he was like, but never said anything?”

“I’d be pretty pissed.”

“You would probably hate me even more than you do now.”

“But I don’t think he did what you said.”

“Go away and think about it.  Think about all the times you have seen him with your daughter, had her on his knee, tickled her under her shirt, showered with her.  Think of all the times you have seen him with other girls.  Really look at how he behaved.  The inappropriate double-entendres with prepubescent and teenage girls.  The eagerness to have young girls stay over.  The trips away with one or two girls at a time…”

“But his wife was always with him.”

“I was molested with my mother in the room.  I can guarantee it can happen in a split second and right in front of other people.  Where there is a will there’s a way, and he had perfected his methods.”

“That can’t be true.”

“Just think about it.”

“Maybe.”

“Steve, there are lots of other reasons we speak out, but the safety of those still in danger is often a major factor in the decision.  The reason it usually takes so long, apart from all the psychological damage that has to be worked through, is that most people who were abused as a child think they are the only victim.  If it’s only them, why bother?  But when others are at risk of experiencing what we’ve experienced, the matter becomes urgent.”

“I still don’t think it’s true.”

You look fine

Hidden pain

Hidden Pain

You look fine.

Can you not see my ugliness?

You look fine.

Can you not see the scars I carry?

You look fine.

Can you not see the sadness I feel?

You look fine.

Can you not see that big Black Dog that has been at my heels for the last three decades?

You look fine.

Can you not see the huge, heavy,  black box inside me that oozes sludge, pus and monsters?

You look fine.

Can you not see the blood I have lost?

You look fine.

Can you not see the bruises I have had?

You look fine.

Can you not see my body silently screaming in pain as it remembers the trauma it has lived through?

You look fine.

Can you not see the pain of an adult penis being jammed into a nine-year-old’s vagina?

You look fine.

Can you not see the terror of knowing your father could get you pregnant?

You look fine.

Can you not see I would rather be dead?

You look fine.

Can you not see all the things I cannot put into words?

You look fine.

Can you not see the pain my anger has caused others?

You look fine.

Can you not see how a song, a smell, a memory can cause me insanity?

You look fine.

Can you not see the nightmares that keep me awake at night?

You look fine.

Can you not see how your ignorance and arrogance cause me despair?

But, you look fine.