Speaking OUT to end clergy sexual misconduct.

Aftermath of Anger

When the news broke about “Kevin,” my writing changed. For a few weeks I thought I was writing from a place of strength and healing, but I finally realized that the news of Kevin’s defrocking — and the bishop’s response — broke open my old wounds. After the “Anger” post, I finally felt how shaken I was. I stopped writing. I needed a time of wordlessness. I’m grateful to M.E. Dunham, who allowed me to post her artwork as a peaceful top layer to this blog.

It took years for the bleeding to stop after I left St _____’s in 2010. I tried to write about events as they happened, but how could I when my emotions were so erratic and chaotic? It was more than three years before I had enough clarity to start this blog. 

When the news broke on January 19, everything started swirling again. I was stunned to hear the bishop’s voice on my cell phone. Elated that Kevin was no longer a priest. Devastated for his new victims. Fearful and hopeful and barely breathing as I waited to hear if the bishop would end his long silence about my story. Overcome with gratitude when he did. And (many days later) angry about all the things I wrote about in that post.

And now, sorrowful. A week after I posted “Anger Rises,” I heard from the bishop. In words both bitter and gracious, he said, “I do not believe that anything will be accomplished by continued contact.” In one sense, I’m not surprised that he has cut off contact. When I released the hope that he would ever truly hear me, I finally felt free to speak aloud the anger I had swallowed for years. I knew I was ending the relationship with my words; the bishop’s response only made it official.

Still, it makes me sad. He’s not a bad person; he’s a decent man whose bad decisions caused me harm. He has given better justice to at least one other survivor, so I know he can learn and grow. I pray that his ears are only stopped to my specific voice. I pray that he remains open to truth from other victims and survivors, and from leaders at places like the FaithTrust Institute, The Hope of Survivors, and Baylor University, where Dr. David Pooler is now conducting a study of how churches respond to clergy misconduct.

I don’t regret my words of anger. They were and are true, and I’m glad I spoke them. When we stifle our anger, we often turn it against ourselves, imperiling our health, our relationships, and sometimes our very lives. I still have a hard time feeling my anger, much less speaking it. This was an opportunity to prove to myself — and perhaps other survivors — that we can express our anger and still keep our souls intact. We work so hard to be polite and agreeable. We hope that if we’re “good” enough, the church will respond with justice, which of course it rarely does. We need to recognize our anger and give it voice, even when it scares us. Especially when it scares us.

Comments on: "Aftermath of Anger" (5)

  1. Rev. Mary Ramsay said:

    I’m a survivor of sexual exploitation by an Episcopal priest in Suburban NJ.
    Even though a few years later at least two other survivors came forward no assistance was ever given to me. I had no insurance and paid for my psychological treatment for more than 20 years out of pocket. I had a very low income and this was a terrible hardship.
    I was given a scholarship to a weekend retreat led by Marie Fortune. At last I was heard and understood!
    The Episcopal church never admitted the abuse, though the pattern proved to match others of this Priests abuse as attested to by other survivors.
    Well, now I’m a minister myself. I’m very aware of boundary issues.
    Thank you for opening this topic, too many still bury their heads in the sand.
    May God Bless your healing work.
    Rev. Mary Donelle Ramsay

  2. M.E. Dunham said:

    I understand your anger, Catherine, because I have felt that sort of anger–especially when I am aware that I have been “managed”/”handled” by denominational officials. They are adept at shutting down “difficult” people like us. I believe that’s a skill pclergy learn early in their careers.
    Peace be with you–soon. And in your marriage.

  3. Mary Ramsay said:

    Where do I find help with my difficulty in trusting, my suppressed anger, and my grief for the part of my….soul?…..that died in that series of sexual encounters with the man who was my counselor (with no training) and my Episcopal Priest? I’ve spoken briefly about it in women’s therapy groups both church created and secular. I’ve had 29 years of therapy; the abuse was so devastating because I’m a survivor of child sexual abuse as well. I don’t mean to just go on and on, but I’m hurting. Art has helped. But I can seldom let myself be vulnerable enough to paint. Please keep this scourge in the Light….

    Rev. Mary Ramsay Fort Lauderdale area, Florida.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • Mary, your voice is always welcome here. Please never feel self-conscious about sharing. The pain of CSA/CSM is indescribably deep. Martin Weber, the former chair of The Hope of Survivors, has also served as a law enforcement chaplain. He once told a room full of survivors that even though he’d had to deliver the tragic news of roadside deaths to victims’ families in the middle of the night, he had never seen any pain greater than that caused by clergy sexual abuse. The injury goes to the deepest part of our souls.
      If writing helps, your words are always welcome here.

  4. Mary, I don’t know if this will be helpful, but it’s a piece others have found so since I wrote it about 15 years ago. http://www.takecourage.org/AWArticles/OfCourseYouTrust.htm

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