Legacy of Abuse
After two years of investigation, a Pennsylvania grand jury report has brought to light over a thousand cases of abuse of children by 300 Catholic priests over the last 70 years. In the words of the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, it is a moral catastrophe. This type of abuse never falls on just one state or one faith; much more remains undiscovered. The grand jury report covered six of Pennsylvania’s diocese. There are 177 diocese and archdiocese in the United States. These acts and the failure of church authorities to respond betrayed our most sacred trust. When that happens, we must respond by supporting each other as a community. Our brothers and sisters, daughters and sons in Sonoma County have been victims too. Providing the compassion and services they need is an absolute necessity.
Many of these crimes happened decades ago. They may be buried but their damage lingers, festering within. So often the truth of what happened is denied to victims. Verity, Sonoma County’s rape crisis center, provides a 24/7 crisis line that victims of sexual violence and their loved ones can call at any hour of the day and receive support from a trained advocate. The term “crisis line” can be deceiving; a crisis doesn’t need to be recent or active to deserve care. Historical reporting is an important part of what the line offers. It’s never too late to have the truth heard and recognized. You may feel that law enforcement, your pastor or priest, even members of your family, will not respond the way you need, will not support you in that moment. Verity will. There is good in speaking the truth when you are ready.
Along with dealing honestly with the past, we should respond to these horrors by protecting the future. While children are still very young, six, seven and eights years old, we should teach them about their bodily rights, boundaries and how to be assertive when faced with inappropriate behavior. We should teach teenagers that they have a right to consent (or not) to any sexual activity. We should openly discuss why people don’t report and teach them how they can respond and get help if they are abused.
Verity provides these lessons in free educational programs for any school in Sonoma County that wants them. Contact your children’s school and tell them it is time to take action, or contact us at [email protected] or 707.545.7270 for help in bringing this information to your community. Verity also works with our local faith community to bring education and resources to your place of worship. Our legacy can be one of prevention instead of abuse.
Verity Prevention Specialist
The latest mass shooting that took place in Jacksonville proves at least one thing: the NRA is right. Guns do not kill people. People who buy guns in Maryland, with the express intention of using them at a Madden tournament in Florida should they lose big, kill people. The only thing that will stop the carnage is to arm all Madden players wherever they may go.
Write to us at [email protected].