What have you heard about the Catholic Church “scandal” n Pennsylvania involving reportedly 1,000 kids being molested by Catholic priests?
Many of my clients are heartbroken, displeased, and confused. Confused about their identity. Confused about ethics and morals. Heartbroken over years of covered sexual abuse and betrayal. Displeased with how it was handled.
This article will focus on 10 barriers I believe the victims and their families will ultimately face.
What Is The Real Problem?
One of the most important things we all need to understand about this traumatic tragedy is that this scandal says a lot more about the operation of organized religion in our nation than it does about the individual priests.
It says a lot about the nature of organized religion in some sectors of our world. It says a lot about cult-like thinking and “group-think” attitudes that are often at the core of religious organizations and churches.
Cult-like thinking is what created decades of slavery, decades of human and sex trafficking, and thousands of followers of individuals like Jim Jones. It’s a scary reality. But it must be shown to be what it is. We can’t continue to cover things to massage our egos.
We can’t continue to cover mass crimes like this to “protect” our religious interests.
10 Barriers Victims Will Face
We also cannot ignore that over a thousand victims will struggle with their God-given right to have a faith, to follow a religion, and to believe in God. Not only has their perception of religious leaders been dismantled by their horrific trauma. But so too has their view of God. There’s no doubt about that.
As a result, victims will likely face:
- Suicidal ideations – suicidal thoughts with or without a plan to complete it.
- Anger management – internalized emotions that lead to anger outbursts an frustration.
- Mood lability and mood disorders – depression and changing moods.
- Anxiety and phobias – unresolved or newly developed fears and uncertainties.
- Post-traumatic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder – flashbacks, upsetting memories, hypervigilance, frequent nightmares, etc.
- Traumatic bonding – feeling indebted to the abuser while also deeply knowing the abuser is unhealthy.
- “Existential discomfort” – questioning all of life, searching for meaning in all the wrong places, and struggling with post-traumatic growth (see video below).
- Depersonalization and dissociation – feeling unreal or detached from reality.
- Difficulty trusting others
- Poor interpersonal relationships characterized by impulsivity, low self-esteem, mistrust, fear of commitment, poor communication, etc.
A question many of my clients have is “how could these priests get away with DECADES of child sexual abuse?” DECADES. Let that settle in your mind and heart for a bit. It’s hard to fathom. Heartbreaking to say the last
As a trauma therapist, it is my duty to meet with families struggling with situations of this nature (and worse). Hostage situations, severe domestic violence, human and sex trafficking, and “sex rings” are all very traumatic situations that will require years of counseling and psychotherapy, reconciliation of religious and faith-based views, cognitive restructuring of their worldview and perspective, trust in priests and other church leaders, and exploration of their personal identity.
So What Do We Learn From This?
It is important to keep in mind that many of the victims and their families will never be the same. The lesson for all of us may be varied. But one important lesson I think we can all gain from this is that we should never elevate a man to the level of God for we don’t truly know what their heart consists of.
We can’t attempt to reconcile our now confused religious views with our personal values by ignoring things. NO MORE COVERING UP!