US Bishops: What We've Learned From Abuse Victims

Survivors Concerned About Prevention Strategies

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WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 14, 2010 ( The U.S. bishops’ conference National Review Board is publicizing a series of ten lessons learned from working with the victims or survivors of child abuse by clergy.

The list was prepared by the head of the board, Diane Knight, and publicized today by the conference.

«We have learned that it takes great courage for a victim/survivor to come forward with his or her story after years, sometimes decades, of silence and feelings of shame,» the communiqué stated.

«To the victim/survivor it is so important to finally simply be believed,» it added.

Knight affirmed that «in spite of their own pain and suffering, many victim/survivors are just as concerned that the Church prevents this abuse from happening to more children as they are about themselves and their own needs for healing.»

«While each individual’s story is different,» she noted, «what is common is the violation of trust.»

Knight continued, «Some survivors trust absolutely no one, to this day, while others have been able to work through this pain with the help and support of loved ones.»

«Today there are methods of therapy that work particularly well with and for survivors of childhood sexual abuse,» she affirmed, and «individuals can be helped even after many years of unsuccessfully trying to simply forget about it.»

The board’s communiqué stated: «We have learned that the abuse has robbed some victim/survivors of their faith. For some this means loss of their Catholic faith, but for others it means loss of any faith in a God at all.»

It concluded, «We have learned that we still have much to learn.»

The board, established in 2002, consists of 13 laypersons. It is currently working on a «Causes and Context Study» regarding cases of sexual abuse of minors by priests, which is being conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and is due for publication in 2011.

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Ten things learned from child abuse victims:

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