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Abuse Victim Shares Testimony at Penitential Service

‘Abuse of any kind is the worst humiliation which an individual can experience.’

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A victim of clerical sexual abuse spoke at the Penitential Celebration which took place at 5:30 on February 23, in the Sala Regia of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, on the third day of the Summit on the Protection of Minor’s in the Church, Feb. 21-24, 2019.  Following is the Vatican-provided working translation of that testimony.
Abuse of any kind is the worst humiliation which an individual can experience. One is confronted with the fact of having to recognize that one cannot – and may not – defend oneself against the superior strength of the offender. You cannot escape what happens, but must endure it, no matter what or how bad it is. When experiencing abuse, one would like to end it all. But this is not possible.
One wants to flee, and so it comes to pass that you are no longer yourself. One tries to flee, by effectively trying to flee oneself. Thus, with time, one becomes completely alone. You are alone, because you have retreated elsewhere, and you can’t/don’t want to return to yourself. The more often it happens, the less you return to yourself. You are someone else, and will always remain so. What you carry inside you is like a ghost, which others are unable to see. They will never fully see and know you. What hurts the most, is the certainty that nobody will understand you. That lives with you, for the rest of your life.
The attempts to return with the own true self and participate in the “previous” world, as it was before the abuse, are just as painful as the abuse itself. One always lives in these two worlds simultaneously. I wish that the perpetrators could understand that they create this split in the victim. For the rest of our lives. 
The greater your desire and your efforts to reconcile these two worlds, the more painful the certainty that this is not possible. There is no dream without memories of what has occurred, no day without flashbacks.
I now manage to cope with this better, by learning to live with these two lives. I try to focus on the God-given right to be allowed to live. I can and should be here. This gives me courage. It’s over now. I can now go on. I should continue. If I give up now or stand still, I will allow the injustice to interfere with my life. I can prevent this, by learning to control it, and by learning to speak about it.

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