ellensagh

2. Outrage

I began once-a-week assertiveness classes. I found a self-help group for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse called New Hope. Alfred got a good job in Saskatoon. I went to the year-end Mary Kay party and won two awards. I spent a few days in Prairietown with my family. I wrote in my journal that I would like to confront Father Allinblack. I even thought about standing up in the Censor church, where he was now the parish priest, and confronting him during Mass. My father suggested that I write the bishop. I felt better that Dad was acknowledging things now. But I could tell it was hard on him.
 I spent a day with my stepdaughter who was being married that August. I was to play the organ and my daughter was to sing.
 On July 9, l992, a woman phoned me from another province. She had been in jail, she told me. She had been treated for depression. She had been treated for alcoholism. She was in the process of trying to end an abusive relationship. She had just got out of a psychiatric ward. And she had been sexually abused by Father Allinblack when she was going to Confirmation classes. Her daughter had given her my name. She was calling me because she’d heard that I’d been abused by Father Allinblack, too.
 I was shaking by the time I got off the phone. And angry. How much damage had that man done? And why was he still a parish priest? That was all I could talk about at my New Hope meeting that evening. I wanted to put an ad in the paper contacting former parishioners, but someone suggested I talk to a lawyer first. I talked to Alfred about it when I got home. He was still angry at Stretch and Calvin. And he was angry at me for the spiralling phone bills and the fact that I couldn’t seem to keep myself from telling anybody who would listen about my experiences of childhood sexual abuse. I told him I couldn’t help it; it just came flooding out. I wished he could understand, but we couldn’t agree on anything.
 The next few days I couldn’t get Father Allinblack out of my mind. My whole body kept shaking. I phoned my sister, our family friend, and the Sexual Assault Centre about going to the police. But I knew if I named Father Allinblack, I wouldn’t have any choice about whether Stretch and Calvin were charged. A volunteer from the centre said she would go with me if I decided to go to the police.
Suddenly, I had energy to burn. In one day I sorted papers, cleaned the house, rearranged the furniture, took things to the goodwill outlet, made service calls and deliveries for my business, and made pizza for supper. I dropped off the dry cleaning, inadvertently leaving some papers in a jacket pocket. I had to go back and get them. I used to punish myself for days, even weeks, if I did something like that. But this time it didn’t even upset me.
That day I also wrote my born-again sister and sent her an article on forgiveness. Then I bounced on the trampoline, thinking I needed exercise to get my heart rate up.
 That night I went to Saturday evening Mass. The Gospel was Luke 10: 29-37, the parable of the good Samaritan. The sermon was on how, because of the scandal in Newfoundland and the several cases of sexual abuse being investigated in a town close to Saskatoon, the priest had been unsure if he should help a little girl who had become separated from her parents. If he tried to help her, he wondered, what would people assume was happening? In the end, he did help because it was the right thing to do. He concluded the sermon with, “We know in our hearts the right thing to do.”
 I sat through the rest of Mass, contemplating “the right thing.” I had confronted Stretch and Calvin. Why shouldn’t I confront Father Allinblack? I knew what he had done. What did I want from him? Should I go to the bishop first, or the police? The words of the closing hymn were about God being my salvation, that I could trust in Him and have no fear. Could I believe that? I was trying to.
 I was up at six o’clock the next morning after a night of alarming dreams. I wondered if I should write out what Father Allinblack had done to me; how it felt, how it affected me, and what I wanted from him. I wondered if I should take anybody along for support. Should I phone for an appointment, or just drive to Censor and catch him unawares? Should I see him, then the bishop, then the police? I decided I would phone for an appointment.
 I spent the day writing down what I would say. Monday morning I phoned the bishop’s office and asked to speak to the bishop. I was told that he was away till August. This was only the second week of July. I asked for Father Allinblack’s office phone number in Censor and phoned. A housekeeper answered. She told me Father Allinblack was saying Mass. I should phone back later. I felt a reprieve.
I sat at my kitchen table, shaking, practising what I would say to him.
I knew Alfred would be working and couldn’t go with me if I got an appointment. I decided to call my sister and our old family friend to see if they would come along to support me. They both said they had to think about it. My sister phoned back within half an hour. Her husband thought she was getting too involved in the family; it would be better if she didn’t go. My family friend phoned back and said yes. A few minutes later, my sister phoned to say she had changed her mind. She and her husband had discussed it again, but this was the last time she could get involved.
 I tried Father Allinblack’s number again. There was no answer.
 Two of my sisters dropped in that night. One of them had also been abused by Father Allinblack, but she was not the one I had asked to accompany me. When I told her that the bishop was away, her immediate response was, “He ‘s probably in therapy.”
 The next morning I phoned Father allinblack again. When he answered the phone, I read from my journal: “ Hello, Father Allinblack. This is Sharon Speaks. I’d like to make an appointment to meet with you. Would you have a half-hour to an hour tomorrow?
 “Yes, probably.” He sounded old.
 “What time would work for you?”
 “ll:00,” he said. “Who is this?”
 “Sharon Speaks,” I repeated. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” and hung up.
 My heart was pounding. I walked around the house, trying to relax. My back muscles were like coiled rope. I wrote down what I would say when I phoned the bishop’s office, then I called. I said to the secretary, “Tomorrow, I am confronting a priest in your diocese regarding sexual abuse, and I’d like to meet with the bishop’s representative at l:00 if possible.”
 She said she would call me back. She did so almost immediately, giving me the name of the vicar general of the diocese. I phoned him and repeated what I had said to the secretary. An appointment was set up for l:00 o’clock the following day.
 I phoned my sister and my family friend and told them we would be going the next day. I went to the Sexual Assault Centre, where two volunteers listened as I practised the confrontation I had written. I thought that Father Allinblack would either admit it, deny it, or say nothing. They gave me a book explaining the criminal justice system. Then I went home and wrote down the reasons why I wanted to confront him; and why I didn’t. First, I wanted to break the silence, get it over with, get on with my life. I wanted it to empower me. I wanted to have respect for myself, to face my past, to be an example not only for my children but for other people he had hurt.
 I didn’t want to confront him because of the terrible processes it would put in motion. I was scared of his denial. He might say I was lying or I was crazy. When I confront Father Allinblack, I wrote, “I hope that he admits it, that he’ll break the silence and get help, and that the church will do something for his victims. If he denies it, I’ll find other witnesses and keep confronting him. If I don’t, there will always be a gnawing inside me and it will never be over.”
 While I was writing, my vagina hurt. It was a knife-like pain inside me.
 The next day, July l5, l992, I exercised to a half-hour TV program, ate my breakfast, picked up my family friend, and then my sister, who drove my car to Censor We made a lot of bathroom stops. I sat in the back seat and read my confrontation to them. We parked in front of the rectory at two minutes to eleven.
 We walked up to the door. I rang the bell. Father Allinblack answered. He gestured for us to come in. He didn’t say anything. We didn’t say anything. The three of us followed him into the rectory office. He put out a chair for each of us and we sat down. He sat down behind his desk. He made no acknowledgement that he knew my family friend, though she had been an active parishioner of his for nine years. Instead, he looked out the window and remarked that it might rain.
 I said, “I am Sharon Speaks. I used to be Sharon Harvest. Roady and Rita Harvest’s oldest girl. Thirty-one years ago you sexually abused me. You told me never to tell. Now I am telling. From you, I want honesty. I want you to admit to what you did to me and you can start right now.”
 “Yes,” he said, without a pause. “Yes, I admit it.”
 My first thought was, “What do I do now?” The second was, “You’re going to hear what you did to me,” and I read him what I had prepared:
You had me alone in St. Peaceful’s church. I know it was Lent because God was covered up and everything in the church was purple. You are pulling me from behind; pulling on my arms. You are dressed in black. You pulled me backwards into the confessional. You are holding me down. My arms hurt. This isn’t funny any more. You are pulling me on your knee. Your head, your chin is pushing my head down. You are making me go up and down. It hurts, it’s like a knife, your penis pushed inside me. It hurts. I’m holding my legs together. My knees are shaking. I’m bleeding. Trickles of blood are going down my legs. I’m shaking. I can hardly walk and you were smiling. You said, “Don’t tell or you’ll lose your eyes.” I was so scared and I didn’t tell. Now I’m telling. This is how I feel about it: rage, disgust, anger, pain.
“Yes, I did,” Father Allinblack admitted. “I touched your arms, your legs, and your crotch. But I deny that I had intercourse with you.”
 I paid no attention to his denial for the moment. I turned the page and continued reading:
 This is how it affected me. I’ve been scared all my life. I’ve always felt alone, different from everyone else. Can’t remember my childhood. I could never tell anyone what was wrong. Dreams, nightmares, screaming pain in my vagina. Couldn’t get close to anyone. Lots of friends but no one I could talk to. My life: don’t think, don’t feel, don’t tell. Never felt safe anywhere. No self-esteem. I don’t deserve to be happy, always feel empty inside. Twelve years old; stealing, shoplifting, smoking. No one would ask me why. Just shame on you. Thirteen years old; turn to religion. Never relax. Stay busy. Don’t think. Don’t know how to have fun. Have to be in control. Can’t let myself go. Anger scares me. Push it down. Don’t touch me. I can’t do it and I don’t know why. I never felt I could take care of myself. Only relate to troubled, lonely, needy, and dependant people. I had depressions through every Lent. I hated Easter and I didn’t know why. It’s been a three-month physical and emotional horror and I haven’t worked since April 7, l992.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m sorry, but I didn’t”
 “This is what I want from you,” I interrupted: “Honesty. Take responsibility for what you did. Break the silence. Get out of parish work with children.”
Then I asked, “What do you think you should do? Do you think the bishop would want to know about this?”
 And he said, “Yes, I touched girls at church and St. Peace’s. I’ve seen a psychologist. It hasn’t happened for years. They know about it and I asked if they wanted me to resign and they didn’t want me to. I’m going to be retiring soon, so then I’ll be gone.”
 I told him I had an appointment with the vicar general at l:00 o’clock and I would like him to be there. He said he wouldn’t be able to. I repeated my request, and he said he’d rather I see the psychologist he had referred to earlier because “he knows all about it. The diocese has a committee to deal with this and the vicar general is not on it.”
 For the third time, I said that I was going to see the vicar general and would like him to be there. At that point I stood up. My companions did as well.
 “I’m sorry about your problem,” Father Allinblack said, “but I didn’t’”
 “You can’t have a memory without an event,” I said, and walked out. We had been in his office for just eleven minutes. The minute I was in the car, I was making notes of the meeting, writing down everything I could remember.
 At l:00 o’clock we were in the vicar general’s office. There were five of us: my sister, our family friend, the vicar general, the vicar general’s dog, and me. The dog jumped all over me as I tried to talk, and a repairman came in to fix the telephone while we were there. I tried not to react, but told the priest what had happened to me in the past three months, including what had just happened in the meeting with Father Allinblack. I was adamant that I wanted him out of parish work with children until it was proven that he was no longer a threat to them.
 The vicar general listened, asked a few questions, and said he would contact Father Allinblack. The committee that investigates sexual abuse would look into my allegations, he said, and the bishop would make a decision. He took the original material I had written when speaking to Father Allinblack, including the notes I had made immediately afterward. He made copies for me, and had us each sign and date both sets of pages.
 After we left, we went for tea. As we walked out of the restaurant, I saw a man in black coming toward me. Instantaneously, I was terrified. I nearly backed through a plate glass window trying to get away from him. I knew I’d had enough, then. I decided not to go to the police.
 On the way home, I fluctuated between exhaustion and euphoria. I phoned Alfred and told him I was on my way home. Later, when we talked about it, I kept being interrupted by phone calls. A sister called to tell me that Dad had told her to let me know that I should do whatever I had to do. My other sisters phoned to see how it went. Calvin phoned for the same reason. Alfred was angry and wanted to know who was going to pay for all this running around. The muscles in my back and legs were in such pain that I had to put ice cubes on them in order to sleep.
 At 9:00 the next morning I phoned the vicar general, wanting to know if I would be informed of their decision. He said I would. In the course of the conversation it came out that he hadn’t yet spoken to Father Allinblack. He had assumed from the fact of our telling him that Father Allinblack had said it wasn’t ongoing, that there was no reason to. I asked him if he didn’t think the bishop and Father Allinblack’s psychologist might want to know about this immediately. The vicar general assured me they would be informed when they got back from holidays. It was a slow process, he said, and in the meantime he would like me to write down what I wanted to see for victims of abuse and what the church’s role should be.
 I asked what they had in place now. He mentioned a man’s name that someone could talk to. I didn’t know who the man was or who it was that could talk to him, and I was close to tears already so I got off the phone. Talking to the church, it seemed to me, would be no easier than confronting Father Allinblack.
 I phoned a counsellor. Was I overreacting, I wondered, wanting Father Allinblack out of parish work with children? Is there a cure for paedophiles? Were the children in Censor parish safe? Should I be going to the police? Her suggestion was to ask myself what I needed to do right now to take care of myself. She also suggested I write down everything that was bothering me and make a decision about the police the following Monday, four days away.
 I was able to settle down and write for a while, wash the clothes and clean the house before going to the afternoon assertiveness class. It was on taking control of one’s life. I left feeling exhausted, knowing I needed sleep. Two blocks from where the class had been held, I looked up and saw a sign on a building: “The Catholic Centre.” I walked in and said to the first person I saw at reception, “ I don’t want to discuss this or talk to anyone. I just want to know what this diocese is doing for victims of sexual abuse by priests.”
 The woman, taken aback, said she would let me talk to the bishop’s secretary. She appeared within seconds, and I repeated the same thing to her. She asked me to come with her and I could talk to the bishop. By the time I was ushered into the bishop’s office I was crying, and I told him of my frustration at the lack of any action from another diocese, at trying to get counselling with no money, and about other victims not having anybody to help them.
 The bishop talked about the sexual abuse committee in the Saskatoon diocese, and a new booklet dealing with the issue, From Pain to Hope, distributed by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. He wanted me to see a psychologist friend of his, and he told me to talk to my parish priest, who would arrange that it would be paid for. Part of me felt that here was finally someone who understands, but when he stood up and came toward me all dressed in black, I suddenly felt hysterical, and it was all I could do not to laugh as he gave me his blessing.
 That evening, after arguing with my husband yet again about when all this would be over, I went out to a business meeting.
 The next morning I found a wonderful woman doctor who listened to me as I tried to tell her what was happening in my life. I gave her my history, told her about all the cases of sexual abuse in my family, wondered about marriage counselling, my mental and physical exhaustion, the headaches, the muscle pain. I wanted to know the difference between psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, therapists, and social workers. She suggested I try to smoke less than a pack a day.
 I had a physical exam. She found a lump in my right breast. She told me it may just be a cyst but made an immediate appointment with a surgeon.
 I drove home and tried to get an appointment with my parish priest. He was not in so I left a message. I took my kids to the dinosaur museum at the university, then went to the library and took out three books on breast cancer, a book on emotional abuse, and a cassette tape on getting along with your parents.
 All night I had frightening dreams.
 I was getting phone calls non-stop. Some were from customers wondering why I hadn’t made service calls, but most were from the growing number of people who knew what was going on in my life. One woman wanted to discuss women’s role in the church. She thinks this could be my vocation.
My parish priest phoned. The bishop had filled him in on the situation and he wanted to meet with me. I was thankful that my husband and I were just leaving town, because I started shaking uncontrollably just talking to him. I couldn’t imagine meeting him. Even so, we set up an appointment for 9:00 o’clock the following Monday morning.
In my journal, I wrote: “Feel God is with me l00% because the priest had talked to the bishop and he [the priest] is also the head of the sexual abuse committee for this diocese.”
Alfred and I went to a friend’s twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Alfred and I were not on the same wavelength any more, but I knew everyone there would think we were. I spoke to the mother of a woman I knew when I was first married. She had heard that I had confronted Father Allinblack — news certainly gets around!– so we sat down and talked about it. Her two daughters had also been sexually abused by him.
 That’s all I could think about as I tried to sleep that night — we were staying at my parents’ house — and as I sat through Mass in Prairietown the next morning. After Mass I made an appointment with the celebrant, who used to be my parish priest. He had always been supportive, and I liked him. But the meeting was not helpful. As I wrote later in my journal, “He doesn’t have a clue. He never got beyond, “What do you mean, you don’t have any memory of this?”
 When we got home Sunday evening Alfred and I talked for an hour. He told me that I “suck-holed” to Mom and Dad, leaving him out in the cold. I could see his point.
 The parish priest from Saskatoon came to my house Monday morning. He brought me a pamphlet the catholic church had published about sexual abuse and suggested I see the psychologist the church would pay for. I mentioned a woman counsellor whom I thought was good. He wrote her name down, but didn’t suggest I should see her. He told me I should look on my suffering at the hands of the church in the same light as Jesus’ suffering under the church leaders of His day. He seemed understanding. He said he would phone the vicar general.
 My assertiveness class that afternoon was on dealing with conflict in constructive ways. The next day I saw the counsellor I had been seeing regularly for the past two months, mainly to fill her in on the confrontations and — to me, the most important thing –to work on my family relationships, especially Alfred and me. I was unsure of where I was headed or what I wanted. I wondered if I was creating crises, and if it was a good idea that Alfred and I were going to see a male marriage counsellor the next night. Would I be able to shut up about the abuse and work on the marriage?
 Two days later, I wrote: “The male counsellor hit the nail on the head. I want to leave Alfred there with him to work on his issues. Alfred sees all our problems as financial. I see them as personal and emotional.” The counsellor suggested that we leave our fifteen-year marriage out of the discussions, stay in the present, and try to be kind to each other. Alfred decided he would not be going back.
 I had no appointments the next morning, so I read From Pain to Hope. Then I wrote to the vicar general:
Because the day I walked into your office speaking allegations of sexual abuse against Father Allinblack, a priest from your diocese, I experienced it as a confrontation against the church, against everything I had believed in as a child, because I was emotionally upset, I remember little or nothing of what you said to me, or what I remember is not what I would have liked to have happen. I am writing now to tell you what I would like to see happen when another survivor comes to you.
 Since I saw you on July l5, l992, I know of two other women alleging sexual abuse by Father Allinblack, which brings the total to six. I am also writing to report what I stated in my phone call of July l6, l992.
 I want to see something given to survivors in writing of what concrete help can be given by the church immediately, and it should include whatever the survivor might need at that moment, that week, and assurances that it will continue being given long-term whether it be someone to listen, professional treatment, financial help, pastoral care, available resources, etc.
 A copy of From Pain to Hope should be given to the survivor.
 Someone from the diocese should stay in daily or weekly contact with the survivor to assess what their needs are at that time.
 Because a survivor has a tremendous need to feel safe and because they have broken the silence, the survivor needs to know in writing what steps have been taken by Father Allinblack to get treatment. I need to know. I need to know what steps are being taken by the diocese today to prove beyond any doubt that children are not being abused by Father Allinblack at this time.
 Because Father Allinblack admitted to some sexual abuse but not to the full extent of abuse I suffered from him, I feel he is denying his problem. If he is denying that, what else is he denying?
 Because Father Allinblack told [my sister, my family friend] and I that you, [the vicar general], were not on the Diocesan Committee for Sexual Abuse and he was suggesting that we not see you but preferred we see [his psychologist], I feel he is not being open, honest ,and truthful about what is happening.
 I feel I am being realistic in asking Father Allinblack to leave active ministry unless there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he has no problem now. 
 I am sending photocopies of this letter to the people who have helped me since I talked to you, like a different bishop and my former parish priest. 
 The one person I would like to see informed of these events is the parish priest in Legend, as survivors from there and St. Peaceful may go to him for help.
 My greatest hope is that something is in place for them. Our church has to be there for them.
 Following that, a statement such as this, placed in the church bulletin would be a start: “Because a former priest of this and surrounding parishes has admitted to allegations of sexual abuse, the church wants to be there for anyone suffering or affected by sexual abuse. If you need help or someone to talk to, please phone [number]”
 If no one from your diocese will put a phone number down, put mine.
 Please inform the bishop regarding the contents of this letter and of the events leading up to this.
 I anticipate hearing from you soon.

I also recommended some reading I thought would be helpful for understanding a survivor. Before mailing the letter, I phoned the vicar general again. He said he had nothing new to report, but that when the bishop returned, Father Allinblack would probably be asked to retire. The next phase would be putting a committee in place to help victims of abuse. He told me there was no committee now.
 I mailed the letter, then bought two sheets of bristol board. I was going to make two hearts, one for Alfred and one for me, and write everything in them that I liked, loved, admired, and enjoyed about Alfred and myself. I made the hearts, but I couldn’t fill them in. I went to my last assertiveness class. It was on what do I want to change in my life. I wanted to get to know me, love me, to be at one with God, to have a balanced life, and to be there for the kids and my family.
 I made a list of how I could be nice to myself. It included exercise, writing out positive affirmations, listening to music, getting a massage, having my hair cut, going swimming, talking to a friend, finding some humour in my life, having a candle-lit bubble bath, reading a good book, going to the library, going for a walk, finding a nature spot, asking for what I need, writing in my journal, completing one thing so that I can feel successful at something, making a visual poster of what I want, spending time with the kitten we had just got from a farm, taking a class or going to a movie.
It sounded good, but everything seemed too much. I couldn’t work. My husband and I couldn’t agree on anything. I was trying to get ready for my stepdaughter’s shower and wedding. I went to my aunt and uncle’s fiftieth wedding anniversary and freaked out because a priest sat beside me. This man had baptized my son and I didn’t think he’d hurt a flea, but I knocked over a chair and spilled the cups in front of me trying to get away from him. Then I found out that my twelve-year-old daughter had started smoking.
 I was having dreams of falling or being trapped every night. Many mornings I woke up with no bladder control. I was worried about the upcoming appointment with the surgeon –I could not forget, even for a moment, that there was a lump in my breast –and how was I ever going to start making business appointments again without crying on the phone? I knew if I didn’t work soon, I’d have to give my car back to the company.
 My brother Calvin phoned and said he would give me a couple of hundred dollars for the phone bill. He told me I was doing more in two weeks than most people do in two years.
 At the end of July, the church’s psychologist phoned me and set up an appointment. I went. He listened, expressed concern, and asked who was there for me. I cried for a few minutes. He suggested I see only the counsellor I had been going to and not discuss this with anyone else; otherwise, he said, I would be leaving parts of myself all over, and there wouldn’t be anything left. He did suggest outside help for my marriage, but that was up to my husband. If he didn’t want it, I would have to make a decision.
 I came out of his office with my head pounding and my blouse soaked with sweat. I had walked about half a block when the knife-like pain struck me in my vagina. I struggled to my car where I sat, sweating and helpless. It took hours for the pain to subside.
 I phoned my regular counsellor. Alfred and I could get in to see her at the end of August, a month away. She suggested that, in the meantime, I try to get into group therapy at another agency to deal with my emotions. She told me I was doing my healing backwards; I should have dealt with all the emotions and then confronted my abusers. I wasn’t sure what I was to do next.
 I went for the surgeon’s appointment. He couldn’t tell if it was a lump or a water-filled cyst, so he set up an appointment for an ultrasound and mammogram.
 I went to an intake worker for group therapy. It was for a sixteen-week group on domestic abuse. I told her I didn’t fit. There was no physical abuse in my marriage. Nonetheless, I filled out a nine-page questionnaire form regarding my relationship, my present support system, and a dozen other things. She told me I was welcome to come in September. If I didn’t fit, I could quit.
 That Friday, Alfred and I went away alone for the weekend. It was not a success. On the way home we stopped at my parents’, where I took out photo albums of when I was growing up. As soon as I saw pictures of Father Allinblack, I doubled up. The pain was excruciating. I was supposed to bring pictures into my counselling session, though, so took them all home with me.
 Three days later, at 4:00 am, I wrote in my journal:
So much anger. Stomach rolling. Want to cry. Smoking 25-30 cigarettes a day. Mad at everyone, including myself. Kids are out of control. Got up, felt rotten all day. Mammogram. Three lumps suspect. Dr. reads ultrasound. OK. Go home. My son is acting out. Alfred on his case. I’m upset, tired, stomach upset. Alfred kicks my son. My son talks about child abuse, put-downs. Our daughter is in a good mood. After wedding, will I fall apart?
My stepdaughter’s wedding was the following day. I attended as stepmother of the bride. I went through nearly the whole day as if everything was perfect, even though I was pissed off at my father. He had Mom tell me that morning that he thought I was going to too much counselling. That was what was wrong with me.
 That evening, during the wedding dance, a survivor of Father Allinblack, a woman I had not talked to since my memories came back, asked to speak with me. She proceeded to tell me in graphic detail what Father Allinblack had done to her. I had to stop her. I couldn’t listen to it. I left her at the door.
 The next week Alfred told me that all I did was put on my pretty face every morning, provide maybe three meals a week, and maybe get the clothes washed, but he and the kids were neglected. I knew it was true.
 My brother Calvin invited my son to go on a four-day holiday with him and his wife. As soon as he went, I began having memories of Calvin abusing me. I was on the phone continuously, trying to sort out what I was going through with women who would listen to me. Then my sister phoned to tell me that our brother Stretch was suicidal because of all this, so I phoned him. It seemed impossible to straighten anything out, to be less confused, to feel less pain.
 I did visit the survivor who had come to see me at the wedding dance. She had told the church of her experience years before I had. She spoke of other women who had been abused by him. She was deeply hurt that she had never received any meaningful support or follow-up or even a personal letter from the church.
 In the middle of August I received a letter from the vicar general. He acknowledged receipt of my letter, reassured me that the church was very concerned about the plight of those who have been victimized in any way, but especially when clergy or religious are involved, and explained that their is an advisory committee that reviews all allegations and makes recommendations to the bishop. With regard to allegations against Father Allinblack he let me know it had been recommended at that time resignation had not been required as there was no evidence of misconduct for a number of years and he expressed remorse.
He did let me know that maybe because of my visit Father Allinblack had made the decision to retire and the bishop asked and he agreed to psychological testing. He hoped that brought me comfort and addressed my concerns. 
 The rest of the letter spoke of the diocese approaching people to address the plight of the victims of abuse. All parishes would be informed of the process so that victims could come forward and remedial action taken. My recommendations would be passed on to a committee, who he thought would find them helpful. He thanked me for displaying the courage to come forward and assured me that the church was anxious to deal with these matters in a responsible way. The letter was copied to the bishop.
 In the middle of August, Alfred decided to attend a men’s group that dealt with emotional, physical, and verbal abuse.
 My parish priest visited. He told me he could tell how sick I was because I was telling anyone and everyone what had happened to me. I found the observation rather objectionable, but wasn’t able to say anything. When I tried to talk to him about my marriage, he just said, “Oh, don’t let your marriage be affected by the sexual abuse.”
 In early September, I went to my first domestic abuse group. When I learned that no person has the right to use violence — verbal, emotional, psychological, spiritual , or physical — to impose his or her will on another, and when I saw what the cycle of violence looked like, I knew I fit right in. As soon as I got home, though, I had doubts again. I decided I’d keep going for the education. I couldn’t seem to do any work on my business. I kept thinking about going to university.
 The journal entry from September l5, l992, reflects my turmoil: “Go to bed. Every night same as night before. My body is doing weird things. Body tense — shake, shiver, body coming apart, as if I’m going to fall to pieces. It’s all going to come out. Throw up. Dark. I need light. Everything coming — Can’t breathe. Can’t relax. Can’t sleep. Get up. Have a bath.”
 Alfred and I discussed separating. To him it meant the end. To me it meant space and time. I wanted a one-year separation. The day I told him I was seeing a lawyer, he went to his first meeting of the men’s group. I went to Legal Aid and Social Assistance, but they told me they couldn’t help me until the actual separation had taken place. Accordingly, at the end of September I wrote out my own separation agreement, effective October l, l992, stipulating custody and access arrangements, child support , the financial responsibilities of each party, and the division of household furnishings. Alfred signed it without protest, but over the next few days everything we had agreed on changed, including how the children were told and when he was moving out. He phoned a counsellor to try to get me to change my mind.
 I said over and over to myself sentences I had written down in my counsellor’s office: “I have a right to live my life with self-respect. I deserve to be treated with respect. I can make mistakes and learn from them without unnecessary guilt. I deserve opportunities to grow spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. I can make choices that are good for me.” Still, I always worried about what people thought, and questioned myself about everything I did. As Alfred was moving out and the kids wanted to know why and would they ever see him again, I wondered if all of this was a big mistake.
 My son and daughter continued to live in the house with me. Alfred rented an apartment two blocks away. I went to Social Assistance, an emotional mess. The woman couldn’t understand why I couldn’t support myself. I was trying to explain the situation when she suggested I go to a priest she knew. He did “healing touch,” she told me. She also told me I needed a doctor’s certificate saying I couldn’t work, and would have to go to Legal Aid to make sure that child support was arranged so that the father was responsible for supporting the kids, not social assistance. I was to take in all income and expense sheets from the past year from my business as well as all identifying papers for myself and the kids. She wanted to know my long-term plans. I told her I was going to try to do my business part-time, and was thinking about going to university. She told me social assistance does not help with university, but I could check out a student loan.
 My business was basically finished except for the re-orders that peopled phoned in to me. I had to return my car, then ask my father to lend me the money to buy another. Dad agreed, but Alfred had been seeing a counsellor who told him that my father had probably abused me, too, and was lending me money now to buy my silence. Alfred wanted to buy the car for me. He was very insistent, saying I could pay him back once a month. I gave in.
 I did want to try to work again, so I went to a weekend business conference at Chateau Lake Louise. In some ways it was a wonderful weekend. In other ways it was a disaster. I had to walk out of many sessions because I was either crying over my marriage or fighting images in my mind of sexual abuse. The part that was good was staying in my room, alone. I thought things were nearly all over, and when I got back to Saskatoon I’d be able to work again.
 When I came home, I found that Alfred had written me a letter. It was a love letter, and very moving. He said he would work at gaining my trust. It made me think of all the times he had been supportive, and it left me feeling confused. I made a list of what was healthy in our marriage and in our family life and what was unhealthy, but I kept getting mixed up between my husband and children and my family of origin.
 From what I could gather of my growing-up years, I knew there couldn’t have been anyone there for me — not with ten kids. There were too many of us for any one to have received adequate nurturing. Secrecy, humiliation, fear, name-calling, unrealistic expectations, excessive responsibilities, no trust or respect, poor communication, no money, neglect, manipulation, guilt trips, sexual abuse– these were terms that came to me as I tried to remember my childhood. But I wondered which of them were from growing up and which, if any, were from my marriage. Certainly, I could see some of these things in my family now, so I made a list of what I wanted for Alfred and me and the children. Co-operation, love, fun, trust, respect, equality, privacy, affection, honesty, feelings, negotiation, and compromise were the most important. Those were things and feelings that I wanted us to have. I knew I was finding such qualities in the supportive people who listened to me, the women I met in groups, the women in my New Hope group, and the new friends I was making.
Alfred had not left me alone since he moved out. Everyday he was phoning, coming over, or both. I finally asked him to stop or I would have to get a restraining order. He often talked of suicide. I felt guilty enough about breaking up the family, and my guts were already tied in knots when my father asked, “Have you thought about what you’re doing to Alfred?”
 The kids and I went to visit my sister in Oiltown for a weekend. The Sexual Assault Centre was hosting an information night on the difference between criminal and civil law suits, so I went. I was not interested. It all seemed too much to me. But the next morning my back went into spasms. The pain was so intense I couldn’t even bathe. I went to a chiropractor, but he could do nothing. The kids returned to Alfred’s in Saskatoon by bus while I stayed in Oiltown. I saw a chiropractor four times, a masseuse twice, and otherwise I lay on the bed or the floor. I felt helpless, a complete failure.
 When I returned to Saskatoon a week later, my counsellor told me her agency was starting an eight-week group for survivors of sexual abuse. I went because I wanted to clarify my feelings, gain a deeper understanding of where I’d been and what was ahead, and increase my self-esteem. I also needed to know I wasn’t alone.
 I realized that I never knew I was upset until I was in crisis, so I started meditating twice a day. I had learned to meditate when I was eighteen, and practised it for a year until a priest told me it was the work of the devil. I began meditating again, and asking myself several times a day how or what I was feeling. I knew my body was telling me something all the time.
 I learned, for example, that if the muscle pain was on the left side of my back and body, it had to do with past abuse. If it was on the right, it had to do with Alfred or what was happening now. When it was all over all the time, as it was then, I tended to “space out.” I had to ask people to repeat things, or simply confess that I wasn’t with them.
 A survivor of Father Allinblack sent me a church bulletin that had the address for the committee for victims for the diocese. I wrote to them on November 4, l992: “I am an adult who was sexually abused as a child by Father Allinblack when he was my parish priest. I would like to know what financial assistance is available to me.”
 I needed help badly. I got letters from my counsellor and my doctor and a masseuse to see if I could get extra money from social assistance. Alfred was still contacting me non-stop, so I wrote him a letter forbidding any further telephone contact or coming to the house except to pick up the kids on scheduled visits.
 My parents phoned. They were glad I was asking the church for help. Calvin phoned and said he was thinking about writing an article for the press if the archdiocese did not reveal why Father Allinblack had retired.
 Alfred sat at my kitchen table and explained to our won and me why he felt it was necessary to commit suicide. He had to do what he had to do, he kept saying. He had nothing left. The kids wouldn’t live with him. His wife had kicked him out. My son was crying. I phoned the crisis line. They said there was really nothing I could do, but if I really thought he was going to kill himself I could phone the police. As he left, I asked him if he was going to do it. He said yes. I phoned the police and his sister, who was furious. There was nothing more I could do.
 I listened to relaxation tapes to get to sleep. The next morning I felt almost normal again. Did Alfred do it, I wondered, or had he gone to work? He only lived a few blocks away. The kids would pass his apartment on their way to school. I debated if I should ask for their keys to his apartment. Instead I walked to the corner with them. Alfred’s truck was not there. He’d either gone to work or committed suicide elsewhere. I was pretty sure it was the former.
 “I am free of fear,” I wrote in my journal. “God loves me. God is working in my life. I release all the pain of the past.”
 Even so, the only place I felt understood was at New Hope and the Domestic Abuse Group I was attending once a week. But they were only once a week. It helped that I could phone the facilitator of the men’s domestic violence program. They were able to help me sort out what was happening, but Alfred quit after five sessions. Instead of counselling, now he was phoning my daughter all the time to tell her why he had to commit suicide. He saw no point in counselling: “They didn’t get me into it, they won’t get me out of it.”
 “Here we go again,” I wrote. “Get up. My back is bad. I’m tense. I’m angry at Alfred but I still feel I have to take care of him. I’m mad at what it’s doing to the kids. Should I phone and get help for them? What about the women’s shelter? Would I be hurting the kids more? Is this the way to solve it? Is this the only way out of a problem? Is it my way or no way? Or do we do it Alfred’s way or no way?”
Over the next few days my son was caught lighting fires with a friend, and my daughter was swearing non-stop. When I called her on it, she would say, “You can’t do anything about it or I’ll commit suicide.”
I phoned all the service agencies, trying to get counselling for the kids. One wanted to do a family thing with Alfred, but I didn’t think that would be appropriate just then. Another said they had no immediate counselling for separation or divorce. Another suggested I see my own counsellor and have the kids referred to a youth group. I didn’t feel any further ahead.
 My parents sent me a home spa for the bathtub because my back was so bad.
 When I told Alfred about the fires and the swearing, he said I had no control, and he was going to do something about it. Curiously, the first thing he did was demand immediate payment in full for the car. It was then I knew the marriage was over.
 I felt lighter than air when he left.
 He phoned later to apologize. I thanked him for the apology and hung up.
 Alfred was trying to use the car to manipulate me. I asked my father if he would buy a car and put plates on it and I would pay him what I could when I could. He didn’t want to come between Alfred and me, he said, but he agreed as long as I wouldn’t be in trouble with social assistance. I cleared it with social assistance. A friend found me a car for $l,500. I told Dad I would pay him $l00 a month
I went to a Legal Aid lawyer and signed interim custody papers stating that my son and my daughter would live with me, but Alfred would have reasonable access. The lawyer wanted me to claim spousal support. I said no. She wanted me to raise child support to $3l0 a month from the $l50 stipulated on my home-made separation agreement. She said that, because of Alfred’s income, the judge would not agree to child support payments that low. I agreed to $200 each for child support, but I knew Alfred would be angry.
 On November l8, l992, I wrote a note to Alfred, explaining why I was returning the car and why I was changing the child support arrangements. I planned on putting the note in the car and leaving it outside his apartment. It didn’t work. He phoned just as the kids and I were leaving, and our son told him we were going out of town to buy a new car. He was angry, and that upset everyone else. What if he does commit suicide? the kids wanted to know. What should they do if they find him? Why did we have to separate, anyway?
 By the time I got the new car home, I was utterly exhausted. My back muscles were nearly in spasm. But that was a turning point between Alfred and me. He saw the car as a power struggle between him and my father, and my father had won. I refused to discuss anything with him any more, so he began talking more and more to the kids. He had them reading divorce materials sent to him by my lawyer. He told them I’d been sleeping around, that his lawyer would be getting him custody, that he wanted them to move in with him. I just told them I was sorry they had to listen to that.
 I received a letter from the diocese victim’s committee. It acknowledged my letter, and thanked me for bringing my concern to their attention. They stated that, in order to begin to address the issue, it would assist them if one of the committee could meet with me personally to give me the opportunity to provide them with a more complete picture of my situation and allow them to determine how they could be of assistance. The letter named three contact people. I could meet with one or all of them, and the location of the meeting would be by mutual arrangement. They also said that the person I identified was no longer in active ministry. He was currently undergoing a long-term treatment program and, following that, would be retired from ministry. They thanked me for coming forward. I immediately phoned and made an appointment.
In November I had the first weekend to myself that I ever remembered having. The kids were with their father. I was reading a book about ending a relationship, which gave me strength. “I don’t have to feel guilty about being the dumper,” I wrote. “Ending our relationship was appropriate because it was destructive to both of us. Somewhere along the line, we didn’t learn enough about loving and communicating with each other. Guilt feelings have controlled much of my behaviour through most of my life. I will work at improving myself.”
 I wrote out twenty-five things I liked about myself: “my will to survive, my honesty, my willingness to grow, my intelligence, my sense of humour, my looks, my body, my integrity, my generosity, my courage, my strength, my love of learning, my trust in people, my goodness, my values, my beliefs, my talents, my music, my ability to cry, to laugh, to adapt, to survive, my energy, my work ethic, and my organizational abilities.” I also wrote that I wanted to learn to hug my kids.
 I went to Mass that weekend. The sermon was on giving Jesus a chance, but all my thoughts were on going to Legal Aid and filing for a divorce. Alternatively, I wondered, if we had space from one another, could we get back together? Then I thought about my upcoming meeting with the victim’s committee and the muscles in my left arm, leg, and back became like ropes, and there was such pain that I wanted to shut my mind off.
 On November 26, l992: “I feel stiff, sore, bruised, pissed off, and angry. Just got a letter from Social Services. They will not give me more money for exercise program or massage therapy.” That night at ll:30, I began having memories of growing up: “Louise breaking arm at Granny’s kitchen. Grandpa at head of table. Kitchen and living room . . . yard . . . garden, shed, road past, picking berries . . . skating on dugout, Dad chopping ice . . . barn, old red truck.”
 All through December, the fighting continued between Alfred and me, and the kids were caught in the middle. The kids wanted me to see a hypnotist, thinking all the memories would come out and it would be over. But everything I had read said the memories would come back only when it was safe for them to come back, when I could handle them, and I didn’t want to take the chance. The school phoned. The children’s behaviour was deteriorating; they were failing exams for the first time. I took each of them to my counsellor, but they didn’t want to be there, so the teachers told me they would try to set up individual counselling. They were worked up over Christmas. What would happen? I didn’t know myself, so didn’t know how to reassure them.
 During the previous months, helpful people phoned me every time a TV program on sexual abuse was on. They cut out articles from magazines and newspapers regarding civil court cases, sexual abuse by priests, and cover-ups by the church. I couldn’t watch the TV shows, and the articles made me angry. I went to the university library and looked up published articles regarding church cover-ups of sexual abuse in Canada. I was shocked. I asked my Legal Aid lawyer if they handled civil cases. They didn’t.
 Our son had been trying to decide about going to live with his Dad ever since the suicide threats. I didn’t want him to. Rereading my journals, I saw that there had been ninety-two different abusive scenes between Alfred and me in the past two months. I wrote Alfred a letter saying that our children’s emotional stability was the most important priority. I knew he loved them and could be a good parent, but I wanted them to live with me until everyone was more settled.
 My son made his own decision, though, and moved to his Dad’s. I got a phone call from my lawyer that day; she was disappointed that I changed everything just a few days before court. I didn’t know what she was talking about. Alfred’s lawyer had called her, she said, and told her that I had agreed to joint custody, so court had been adjourned. I told her I hadn’t agreed to anything.
 That weekend, I made a bunch of leaves out of construction paper and put them on a poster on the wall that made it look like the leaves were actually grass coming out of the ground. On each leaf or blade of grass, I put the names of the people who had listened to me and helped me get through the past eight months. They were friends, family members, my family doctor, paralegal assistant, physiotherapist, separation lawyer, women from the groups, counsellors, my kids, and Alfred. I noticed that I could tell some people some things but not others. Some could hear about abuse but others couldn’t. Some would be supportive one time, and the next they would be really hurtful.
 What really blew me away was the number of women who had been sexually abused as children. When I told them what had happened to me, they told me what had happened to them. Many had multiple abusers, but few saw any connection between the abuse and their struggles growing up, or the chaos that was still happening in their lives.
 When I told people I was meeting a church victim’s committee, I was always advised to get a lawyer. I wrote down some questions and interviewed a lawyer: “I know six, maybe seven, women who were abused by the priest who abused me. Would a civil case be just me or for everyone? What would I have to do? How do you decide what damage has been done? How much do you cost? How do you decide what money to ask for? What is your speciality? experience? personal experience? What made you decide to be a lawyer? What makes a good lawyer? Any advice re: upcoming meeting?”
 I’m glad I wrote down the questions, but I wished I had written down the answers. I was shaking so badly and in such bodily pain that I knew no more when I left than when I had arrived. She talked about retainers, percentages, damages, healing, negotiations, mediation, and legal terms I never heard before. She wrote down a great deal of information for herself, and was very supportive while I cried. Then she told me about her own healing journey from childhood sexual abuse.
 I went to see another lawyer. I learned she was a survivor, too. It is an epidemic, I thought. But I couldn’t understand what she told me any more than I had the first one, so I asked her to send me in writing how a civil case like this would be handled. I asked for briefs and precedents. I do remember cringing in embarrassment in her office as the mud from my boots made a mess on her floor.
 The agency director where I was receiving counselling offered to sit in on my meeting with the victim’s committee. I thanked her for offering, and told her I’d like her to come. She arrived shortly before the committee representative came at l0:45. The whole thing was a dreadfully frustrating waste of time. The next day I phoned the woman who had come to support me and asked her if she would write a summary of the meeting for me.
“Notes taken following December l7, l992 meeting in Saskatoon with Sharon Speaks and the representative from the victims committee, for the diocese.
 Sharon related her experiences in attempting to inform the vicar general regarding the sexual abuse she experienced at the hands of her parish priest when she was a child of six. She also talked about confronting the priest as well as asking him to go with her to speak to the vicar general. Sharon undertook these confrontations with two other women — her sister and a woman from the offending priest’s parish. She recalled clearly her experiences of that day — what she said both to the priest and to the vicar general. She also recalled that she asked that the priest be removed immediately and that notices regarding an investigation be circulated to all the parishes in which he served so that other victims,if there were any, could come forward.
 Sharon said that in spite of repeated follow-up with the vicar general, it took about six weeks for the offender to be removed from the parish and that the excuse given was retirement because of ill health. She was eventually informed by letter of his leaving the parish. No other attempts were made to contact Sharon. She eventually discovered some information about the victims committee and contacted it herself.
 The representative, who is a member of the victim’s committee, was unaware of Sharon’s story. She was also unclear regarding the mandate of her committee or its relationship to the Sexual Abuse Committee which is chaired by the vicar general. She was also not clear regarding the membership of vicar general on the committee — the only member she could name was the psychologist named by Fr. Allinblack. Father Allinblack told Sharon when she confronted him that he had already informed this psychologist regarding these activities and very much wanted Sharon to meet the psychologist with him instead of talking to the vicar general.
 The representative said she was in no position to offer Sharon anything at this point. And, that they viewed each case on its own merit. She asked Sharon to summarize what she wanted. Sharon spoke of her current financial difficulties, the cost of treatment, and her present inability to work. She also expressed concern for other victims and the need to contact them and provide help. Sharon also spoke of problems in her immediate family. Sharon explained that at the very minimum, she should have been contacted regularly throughout this process as to current need, etc. It is now more than six months since she spoke to the vicar general.
 The representative noted some other items – the need for accountability, the need for information to be shared between committees and that the role of committees be more clearly outlined.
No further meeting dates were scheduled. It is my understanding that the representative will take this information back to the committee.”
The day before Christmas, I received a letter from the committee for victims representative thanking me for my frankness and courage. She could appreciate my pain, she wrote, though she didn’t feel that we had had sufficient time to deal with everything and would need more time to address some of the matters of concern to me. She was supportive of the fact that I was seeking the services of Catholic Family Services in Saskatoon and awaited to hear from me a convenient time and place to meet again. I phoned her immediately and set up a meeting at my house for January 3, l993.
Christmas! The only thing easy about the Christmas break was that I had no money, so shopping was not a problem. The kids left Christmas Day with their father and went to BC for a holiday. I spent a week, mostly in the bedroom, at my parents, and came home to find that the furnace had gone out and everything in the house was frozen. When I got the furnace going again, the water lines in the floor burst. My counsellor had given me some green plants before Christmas to symbolize how much I was growing. They were dead, black.
 One bright spot was the fact that an organization in Saskatoon called Working for Women had matched me up with a buddy for woman-to-woman peer counselling. When we met, I found she was a wonderful listener. She offered to be my support at the next meeting with the representative of the Victims of Abuse Committee.
 Once again, it was not an impressive meeting. The representative wanted to know, again, exactly what had happened, then she questioned me as to whether it had happened at all. I started crying early on, and couldn’t stop. My left side was killing me. I was beginning to feel that that I would have to go to court just to cut through all the bullshit. My buddy made notes, though, so at least I have a coherent account of what went on:
“Jan. 4, l993. I came to support Sharon while (Church Victim Committee representative, whom I will call VC in these notes) spoke to her about the abuse she had experienced from Father Allinblack as a child.
 VC asked Sharon to describe exactly what happened. Sharon said that she had been fondled many times and had witnessed Father Allinblack fondling other children. She asked VC and me to read the letter that she had taken to Father Allinblack describing in detail his rape of Sharon as a child. Discussing this incident was very emotionally draining for Sharon. Her pain was obvious and very real. She told VC that he had told her at the time not to tell or she would lose her eyes. She didn’t tell until this year when she remembered the abuse.
 VC asked Sharon who she had talked to about her abuse. Sharon said that she had confronted Father Allinblack last summer. He admitted to abusing her and others, but didn’t admit to the full extent of the abuse, e.g., rape. This hurt Sharon. She wanted Father Allinblack to go with her to talk to the vicar general about the abuse, but he refused and pressured her to talk to a psychologist rather than the vicar general. He said the vicar general had nothing to do with the sexual abuse committee. When Sharon stood her ground and went to see the vicar general, she discovered he was the head of the sexual abuse committee. She felt further victimized by Father Allinblack’s deception and stated this.
 Sharon spoke of others in the church that she had been in contact with regarding the abuse, including [former pastor, present pastor, and Saskatoon diocese bishop]. Sharon said that she liked [former pastor] but was hurt by his questioning attitude when she told him of the abuse she had experienced. He found it difficult to believe that she had experienced no memory of the abuse until this point in her life.
 VC asked Sharon if she was aware of any more survivors of abuse. Sharon said she was aware of eight other people who had been abused by Father Allinblack and that these people were suffering a great deal as a result of this abuse. Sharon told of one woman who had come forward to the church with her story of abuse who ended up meeting with what this person thought was the bishop’s lawyer in the cafe of a garage to tell her story. Not only did the person have to face intimidation by talking with a person she thought was the bishop’s lawyer, but she had to tell her story in a public place and pay for the meal to boot. Sharon felt that this was hardly a supportive move on the church’s part, to which VC agreed. VC asked Sharon to find out the names of the people from the church involved in this incident.
VC asked Sharon if she would mind giving her the name of her lawyer. Sharon said she hadn’t retained a specific lawyer.
 VC asked Sharon if she could have the letters that Sharon had written regarding the abuse. Sharon said she would send her some copies.
 VC said that Sharon had mentioned that she needed some financial support. Sharon acknowledged that she is experiencing financial difficulties.
 VC asked Sharon what the Church could do. Sharon said that she felt it was important that notices be put in all bulletins stating that abuse has happened rather than just occasionally mentioning abuse in general. She felt that by the church not saying that abuse has happened, it denies Sharon’s experience and makes others who have been abused more hesitant to come forward. Sharon feels the church needs to be more open so that survivors who are not strong can come forward. Sharon said that she thinks the church does not make it easy for survivors to be acknowledged.
 Sharon also suggested that peer counselling be organized with survivors who have faced their pain helping other survivors.
 Sharon suggested that a retreat be set up where abuse survivors can have a place to go to deal with their trauma and pain.
 Sharon also told VC that there is an eight-month waiting list to get into a survivors group and a three-month waiting list to get into Family Services. She told her that people in rural areas are in even worse circumstances when it comes to getting help. She wants the Church to respond to this desperate need.
 VC said Sharon would be contacted after the Jan. l7th meeting of the Committee.

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: