ellensagh

3. Now What?

I had registered for two university classes and one correspondence class after Christmas, so I had to get a student loan in place. Added to that, Alfred was back hassling me, the kids were deeply troubled, the Legal Aid lawyer wanted instructions about commencing court action re: custody and separation, the parish priest had phoned me about getting together again, and it seemed that every woman who had ever been abused by Father Allinblack was phoning me. They spoke of alcohol problems, abusive relationships, suicide. It was becoming more and more apparent to me that the man had cut a swath of abuse and destruction through a whole generation of women, and for his sins he was allowed to retire with a nice story and photo in the local catholic paper.
 The director of the catholic service agency called. She had spoken one of the representatives on the Victims of Abuse Committee. He had assured her that the Committee wanted to be supportive. The Saskatoon director wanted me to accompany her to a meeting of the Committee and talk about the church’s reaction, or lack of it. This was exactly what I had asked for when I wrote the vicar general six months before. When I got off the phone, I wondered, “What is thirty years worth?”
 A few minutes later a woman called to invite me to a silk plant party. I started crying. She said we’d do lunch sometime.
 The Victims of Abuse Committee representative called to inquire if I had had to pay for counselling. I told her I had paid over $200 to date, but at the catholic service agency it was a sliding fee scale and I had as yet paid nothing to them.
 The parish priest came over. He told me I should come see him if I needed money for books or school things, or if I just couldn’t make it.
 I started university.
 Both lawyers I had seen regarding a civil case called, wanting to know if I had made a decision to retain them.
 I had my last survivor group session. It had been so long since I felt normal — had I ever felt normal? — and I wanted to know how I would know when I was healed.
 Alfred phoned numerous times. I agreed to go to mediation. He told the kids that if I went to court for custody or maintenance he was moving to BC. My son didn’t know who he would live with if that happened.
 Two weeks into university, my back went into spasms again. It happened at a friend’s house. I lay on the floor so I could breathe. The spasms came every few seconds, like labour pains. She wanted to call an ambulance, but I talked her into driving me to a massage therapist, who worked on my back for an hour and a half. Then she gave me some of her own prescription muscle relaxants. I am generally against medication of any kind, and normally I would never take someone else’s. But that night the pain was unbearable.
 I even let Alfred come over and give me back massages. It was a mistake. I could sense he still thought things would work out. At least we weren’t fighting.Then the child custody hearing was set for January 25, l993. Alfred’s lawyer refused to represent him because he said he didn’t believe in the adversarial approach. Alfred offered me money if I would drop it.
 The RCMP from the Legend detachment called. They were investigating three cases of child sexual abuse by a priest in the l950s. They had heard that I had confronted a priest, and asked if I would give them his name. I did. It came as no surprise that it was the man they were investigating. They told me the three complainants were from BC, and that I would be contacted again.
 I went to the chiropractor, the doctor for muscle relaxants, and when my student loan came through I went for a massage. I cried wherever I went, especially when anyone touched me. As soon as someone asked how I was, I cried. I cried in businesses, when I was getting photocopying done, when I was getting a tire changed, and when I was waiting in store line-ups. Curiously, I never cried at home by myself.
 I did not attend the child custody hearing.
 The end of January, l993, the representative from the diocese victime’s committee called to tell me she was bringing a letter from the committee to me. My heart pounded. We set up an appointment two days hence.
“I have so much hope,” I wrote in my journal. “I think they will help me.”
 The same day my custody lawyer phoned. As of January l, l993, I had interim custody of both children and was to receive $200 per month for each child.
 For two days my head was spinning. I went outside and pounded ice with a rake till I felt better. I dreamed constantly about a little girl’s head coming off and I kept trying to reattach the head to the body and my father died and my grandmother died and my godmother died and Father Allinblack was put in a coffin but he kept climbing out of it.
 The committee’s representative phoned. Her car had broken down. She would send the letter by courier, and some committee members would come to my house the following Tuesday.
When the letter arrived, I opened it and read and reread it it. Basically they were thanking me for coming forward; said sharing my pain and hurt. They said they heard what I had shared with the committee’s representative.
It was like they were saying they wanted to support me for my healing buth this was new to them and they were just setting up. They wanted me to let them know how I wish to proceed and that they would be in touch with me to continue any discussion. They wanted to assure me that they would do all they could to help me heal and reconcile.
It was disappointing, to say the least. They had left it all up to me. But how, in the midst of despair, was I supposed to know what I wanted, and what would be good for me to have? I wrote in my journal:
I want safety and security, something I’ve looked for all my life. I want a better life, or at least a chance at one. I still want a safe house. I feel I can still be church, and want to be there for others who can’t help themselves. I feel right now the church has to clean up its mess. I want to be on that committee: give money immediately to the survivor — continual contact — all dioceses have to be notified that the priest in question is or has been a problem. . . . I’ve asked four times for help and I get a totally non-committal letter. . . . The church has the resources. The committee should be finding experts in the field, looking at what judges are awarding victims. My dream the other night (all the people dead) — that whole generation’s ideas are dead. The other part of the dream: me trying to save the kid as the life source is ripped out of it, me trying to put it back together, mind and body: that was me, fighting for life, me fighting for me. God is talking to me in my dreams. What a struggle.
I had just finished writing when my son opened the door and walked in with his father. Alfred had not been notified of the custody hearing, he claimed, and had just got the papers in the mail. He was furious. Our son was just about crying. He wanted to know why there was all this fighting. What happened to the good fifteen years? Wasn’t there anything we could do to fix it? Couldn’t we talk?
The next day my son moved back with me, saying he wanted to be fair. He would live two months with me and two months with his father.
 Three hours before the members of the church’s victim’s committee were due to arrive on February 2, l993, the friend who had supported me when I confronted Father Allinblack called. Some relatives of Father Allinblack were at her house and wanted to talk to me. I drove over. They believed Father Allinblack had retired and was getting treatment for depression. They had just heard about the sexual abuse. They had spent the weekend discussing the situation with other relatives, and met with varying degrees of anger, denial, and shock. One person had said, “I hope he kills himself.” They were supportive of me, though, and urged me to phone if I felt the need. Father Allinblack’s family was wealthy, they said, and the victims would get help. I was welcome to stay at their house in the city they were from if I ever went there. Would they be like Father Allinblack I wondered?
 I got home ten minutes before my buddy and the two representative’s of the church committee arrived. I had written down a few questions: “Where is Father Allinblack? Have the committee member’s read books that are out that victims of priests in the Catholic Church have written? What’s the name of the vicar general’s committee? Who is on it? Who is on this committee they are on? How many religious/lay people? What is its mandate? When was the first meeting? How many times have you met? What happened at the January l8th meeting?”
 My buddy took notes:
I was with Sharon when VC #1 and VC #2 came to see her. Sharon expressed her hurt and anger at receiving a non-committal letter from the committee. She felt that they never addressed any of the issues that she has been asking to be addressed since July of l992.
 Sharon asked for information about the committees. The first committee was made up of [vicar general, church psychologist Father Allinblack had referred to, and another man I never heard of]. The second committee, she was told has 20 members, 3 religious and the rest lay people, age range of 30-60 years old. Sharon expressed the concern that it is important that these members be educated about sexual abuse issues either through sharing of personal experience or through books, videos, etc. VC #1 acknowledged that some committee members are not educated in this area. Sharon also suggested that a committee that is made up of so many people is too large and it would be difficult for them to be able to get any consensus and take action because of its size.
 Sharon asked what the committee’s mandate is. She was told it is to help victims and set up protocol for helping survivors of abuse. VC #2 said that they are in the process of doing this now and that Sharon has had a great influence on the procedure.
 They asked Sharon what she wants and she again reminded them of the things she had listed a number of times in the past. Safe houses, peer counselling, resource material (tapes), regular contact, financial help.
 VC #1 had brought the bulletin that had addressed sexual abuse in general. Sharon expressed her anger at this. She had asked that there be specific mention of specific cases in the bulletins so that other victims of specific priests would know that they were not alone and feel free to come forward.
 VC #1 and VC #2 asked Sharon what type of financial help she wanted. Sharon presented them with a list of the expenses that she has for each month and also asked them to respond in some way to her within two weeks.
 VC #1 and VC #2 asked her what type of financial assistance she wants and Sharon said that she didn’t know. She felt that she couldn’t predict what she may need in five or ten years because she doesn’t know what her future holds. She said that what she does know is that Father Allinblack’s abuse has taught her to accept the victim role and this has had, and will continue to have, a very negative effect on her life.
 Sharon told them she had spoken to a relative of Father Allinblack’s this afternoon and that the family was horrified at what Father Allinb had done. They had been told he was sent to St. Louis, Missouri to be treated for depression. Sharon said they are all victims too.
 I was asked for my opinion. I said I felt that the Church response so far has been a joke. Sharon had given specific suggestions in letters to the vicar general and other religious leaders and to the committee itself. None of the suggestions have been addressed. I felt that it was unfair to ask someone who has been victimized and is going through a very traumatic time to do all of the leg work in getting the help they need. Survivors have enough to deal with without having the additional burden of having to show the Church how to take care of them. Particularly when the Church has dealt with many other cases of abuse. I’m sure they know what type of help other survivors have needed and what the financial compensation has been in other cases. They should offer this support and financial compensation up front to survivors rather than pushing them to come up with the answers. The Church should be proactive rather than reactive if they really care.
 There was discussion that Sharon might possibly speak to the committee, but Sharon wasn’t sure if she had the energy.
After they left, I realized that I had forgotten to offer them tea. I didn’t feel guilty. Earlier that day, my sister who had also been abused by Father Allinblack had sent me flowers. On the card it said, “Go for the Gold.” That wasn’t what I was trying to do. I put the flowers out on the table, but placed the card on top of the fridge. After VC #1 and VC #2 left, I thought if I heard one more time, “Tell me how you wish to proceed,” I would scream. I phoned my sister and told her about the meeting. It wasn’t flattering. After I hung up, feeling better, I put the card back on the flowers and thought, “It’s just all a joke.”
 Two days later, the RCMP asked me to come in and make a statement about Father Allinblack. I said I would come on Saturday.
I started going once a week to a Rebuilding Class, a group therapy program based on the book Rebuilding: After Your Relationship Ends by Bruce Fisher. I was nervous walking into the first meeting. There were two men and four women. When asked to introduce ourselves and explain why our marriages had ended, I wondered, “Should I be truthful or come up with something else?” In the event, I told them the simple truth: memories of sexual abuse had returned and everything had changed. We just couldn’t get along. I had wanted a one-year separation initially, but now I was realizing that I was changing and it was never going to work.
 When I told them that my husband couldn’t accept that, the woman next to me started crying. She had just discovered that her husband had sexually abused their daughter. The other two women knew from personal experience what I was talking about, so it was a very intense first session. I can’t remember what the men said.
 Besides working on class papers for university and being with the kids, my one hour of counselling and two hours with my New Hope group got me through the week. It was wonderful when someone listened and had no expectations. One woman at New Hope told me, after I’d spent a session crying and crying, “It takes so much strength to come apart.” It was certainly exhausting.
 I fell behind in my university classes. I worked on my essays, but they were disjointed and didn’t say what I wanted them to say. I hadn’t even begun the correspondence class. It was on my mind all the time.
 The lawyers I had interviewed regarding a civil case kept asking me for a decision. I thanked them for their time, but said I was just going to leave it for now.
 On Saturday, February 6, l993, the kids and I drove to Legend. I went into the RCMP detachment alone and made my statement. The constable was extremely nice. He would ask questions, he explained, and I would answer them, and then he would ask if there was anything I wanted to add. A tape recorder would be running all the time. I would sign the statement when it was transcribed, and I would be given a copy of it.
 We started:
Can you relate to me why you have attended our office today?
Can you tell me in your own words what happened to you, when it happened, and where it happened in relation to Father Allinblack?
When are your first memories of this incident, or have you always remembered it?
What prompted your memory of the abuse?
How did you recall on June l5, l992 that it was Father Allinblack?
Can you describe where St. Peaceful’s Church is and what it looked like?
How old were you at the time of the abuse?
Can you describe Father Allinblack?
Do you remember what day of the week or what time of the day the incident happened?
When you were pulled into the confessional, were you facing Father Allinblack or was your back to him?
Were you clothed or did Father Allinblack take your clothes off?
You stated that there was blood. Did you or Father Allinblack do anything to clean the blood?
Do you recall how you went to the church that day?
Where was your home in relation to the church?
Where did Father Allinblack live?
Did this type of thing happen again with Father Allinblack or did he attempt it again?
Have you discussed this incident or when you saw Father Allinblack touch your sisters with your sisters?
Do you know of anybody else who was touched or molested by Father Allinblack?
How many women do you know were assaulted?
Are you still receiving counselling in regard to this incident?
How did the other witnesses hear that you confronted Father Allinblack. You say you confronted Father Allinblack. Can you relate this meeting to me?
Do you know where Father Allinblack is now?
Are your parents still living?
Do they recall anything about this incident?
Have you since told your parents what happened to you with Father Allinblack?
What was your final decision, when you decided to come to the Police about this?
Are your sisters or the other people you know prepared to take actions in respect to this or their contact with Father Allinblack?
Can you think of anything you would like to add?
I answered all the questions I could, adding that I wanted Father Allinblack to be investigated and charged so that no little girl gets hurt again. I described Father Allinblack as tall and skinny, dressed in black with a white collar. He had lots of hair on his arms, black hair, and he always seemed to be smiling or laughing. I told the police about seeing my two sisters touched by Father Allinblack, but that I didn’t know if anyone else was. I knew other people who were assaulted, but I did not give their names to the police. They knew I had confronted Father Allinblack because of small-town gossip. When he asked me why I decided to come to the police, I answered, “The thought that the Church might let him out of this long-term treatment program shortly and he’d be in unsupervised living conditions where he might have the chance to abuse others. In all my reading, my concern is that this would have been an ongoing problem for him.”
 I was in the detachment for two and a half hours. I gave the constable the confrontation pages I had used when I confronted Father Allinblack, and the photocopies the vicar general had given me that day. When I spoke of the actual abuse during my statement, I found myself speaking like a little girl and crying like a little girl. When the constable asked me if I knew of other Allinblack victims, I realized it was the first time I had heard someone refer to him as Allinblack, not Father or Father Alllinblack.
To my surprise, the constable showed me the three statements the women from BC had given. They were sickening. The children were so little when they had been abused, they thought his name was said like a child learning to talk would say it.
 The next step, according to the constable, was to go to the prosecutor to see if there was enough evidence. If there was, they would initiate extradition proceedings from the United States, where Father Allinblack was . . . what? enjoying a winter holiday? He asked me again if I would give him the names of the other victims I knew. I told him I would contact them, and they could contact him if they wanted to give a statement.
 I spoke to one survivor that afternoon, and she went immediately to make a statement to the police. I went with another to see the local parish priest. I did not know him, except that he had officiated at my stepdaughter’s wedding. As it happened, he was on the church victim’s committee that was handling my case. He told me that I was the only one who had come forward, and I could feel the woman shrink in her chair next to me. I knew she had gone to the Church about Father Allinblack years before I had, and I knew that more women had written to the Committee since I had in October l992. I wondered how he could sit there and tell me that I was the only one who had come forward.
He was not sure who all was on the Committee, he said. He knew two lawyers sat on it, but one might have to resign because of a conflict of interest. When he said that my name had never been mentioned in any meeting, it floored me. One of the lawyers had said in the January meeting that people might come forward who had never been abused. The priest talked about a lot of infighting going on when the groups got together — I supposed he meant the Advisory Committee of three members and the Committee for Victims itself. I wondered how they justified such behaviour when the lives and futures of wounded human beings were at stake. The parish priest said he would blast the Committee for me. Furthermore, if I would give him receipts for my expenses, he would reimburse me out of his own pocket.
 The woman I had brought with me talked of how her needs were different from week to week, and how survivors need to come forward to understanding, compassion, and to be heard. She kept saying, “They can’t be hurt again.” I certainly knew what she was talking about. After we left, she gave me the address of a nun she had spoken to when she first approached the church years ago.
 I went to Mass the next morning, then to a restaurant where I wrote in my journal:
Enjoyed church. Talked about how we are salt of the earth and light of the world and one of the the hymn lines talked about what you hear in the dark should be brought to the light and another hymm about I’m here Lord made me think I am to do something about getting this brought out into the open. Thinking about talking to Catholic Women’s League groups — start small, start a foundation, get them to support victims. Still dreaming of a safe home. Just heard about Tamara’s House; some people in Saskatoon are getting together to try to get a safe home for sexual abuse survivors. Wonder what is in place besides a board of directors. What would be a dream place: 40 acres, retreat, place that can be added onto, exercise room, pool, meditation room, massage table, resource room for therapy groups, kitchenette, rooms for guests. Quiet. Conference room. Counsellor in residence.
The kids had settled down since my son moved back. Both of them were in really good moods. “Such a treat,” I wrote in my journal.
Women began phoning me before they went to make their police statement. Most of them went in crying and scared, but they were just flying when they came out. That was empowering to watch. The fear came later — usually a few days later, when they would crash and phone me again. All I could do was listen, and suggest that they could write me a letter telling me what they needed.
 I wrote the nun whose name had been given to me in Legend, telling her that I was asking for church reforms in how allegations were handled, and how victims were treated and helped through the recovery process. I asked for her views on how the diocese had handled this case and others in the past, and changes she might see as beneficial for victims.
 I went to a medical doctor for a physical. I had gained eight pounds.
 The priest I saw the day I made my police statement sent me $50. It was strictly personal, he said, and nothing to do with the Committee. I decided I would give the kids a treat and spend the rest on the phone bill.
 Two survivors wrote me and said they wanted to see Father Allinblack and get an apology from him and from the church. One said she wanted her life back, a childhood she never had. The other wanted justice, understanding, and the opportunity to meet with other survivors. Both wanted openness and help from the church, so that they wouldn’t lose their faith or their families. They both thought the church had known Father Allinblack was an abuser but did nothing about it. I didn’t know if I believed that. They also thought the church was trying to keep this quiet. That I believed.
 On February l3, l993, I dreamed that Father Allinblack was dead. Should I contact everyone to go to the funeral? I wondered. I didn’t feel I had to go, but the others might want to.
 That afternoon I went to a birthday party. All the women there were survivors of sexual abuse. When I told them that I wanted a safe home for survivors, everyone began brainstorming ideas of what they’d want: a screaming room, child care, art therapy, a place to write, large windows, light! One woman told me that she’d heard of the progression: victim — survivor — warrior. She saw me as a warrior.
 When I got home that evening a woman phoned me. She was suicidal. I felt powerless as I listened to her — powerless, and angry. The need for group therapy and long-term therapy was acute. I resolved to call the priest who had sent me the $50 and tell him the things I wanted him to bring up at the next Committee meeting.
 The next morning I went to Mass. I had recently become a welcomer, and I managed to fulfil my duties, I think, without anyone knowing that I was seething inside.
 I phoned a friend that afternoon and told her the Committee for Victims was meeting the following day. We spoke about what might be accomplished — and what probably wouldn’t. After I got off the phone, I was paced around the house, thinking, “I want to be at that meeting tomorrow and tell them what it’s really like.” I called the priest, but instead of telling him what I wanted him to bring up, I simply asked him what time the Committee was meeting. I phoned my friend back and told her that I intended to go to the meeting. I asked her if she’d go with me. She said yes.
 The next morning I was up at 6:00 a.m. organizing everything. At 9:00 I phoned diocesan office and spoke to a member of the Committee. I asked for permission to address the meeting that afternoon. The reception was cool, but he did agree to my being there.
 I went to the university to drop off an essay I’d typed up the day before, then my friend and I left for Regina. We arrived at 3:00 p.m., just as the meeting was to begin. We were shown to an anteroom and asked to wait, which we did, until 4:l5. Finally, we were asked to join the meeting. A man, presumably the chair, thanked me for coming. The members introduced themselves, and then I was invited to speak. I told them I was simply going to read what I had prepared and then leave. I began:
I am Sharon Speaks. I was abused by Father Allinblack. I had no intentions of coming to speak to you personally but a few things have happened in the past few days that made me change my mind.
On Saturday night a woman phoned me, crying. I am in a self-help support group for survivors of sexual abuse. She is in the group. She has been abused by her father since she was a child. At eighteen, she moved into her own apartment, but her father pays the rent as she is disabled. Having control over her, he is still abusing her. She sees suicide as her only option. She has no hope.
 Second,a line from a hymn I listened to at Mass two Sundays ago about what you hear in the dark, we should speak in the light and that and the bible talks of us being salt of the earth and light for the world. Yesterday at Mass I heard in the sermon, if you have something to say, go direct and speak straight from the heart. Here I go.
 I was a vulnerable, needy, dependant, innocent child. Father McAllinblack abused me sexually. I watched Father Allinblack sexually abuse two of my sisters. I was confused. I didn’t understand what was happening. I couldn’t stop it, so I blocked it out of my memory, but I have lived the abuse for thirty years. This is how it affected me.
I read them the same thing I had read to Father Allinblack. Then I continued:
I had blocked the abuse, but I lived as a victim, and in April l992 I started to find the real me.
I tried to tell my family and friends, and word got out. But it wasn’t until a woman phoned me from a psychiatric ward in a hospital in Yellowknife that I found my anger. She had tried to commit suicide. She had been abused by Father Allinblack. I confronted Father Allinblack and he admitted to abusing me. 
 I told them of the abuse my children had experienced because I could not recognize it, and how I believed I was role-playing the victim for them. “If we don’t get the help we need,” I asked, “will my kids be victims all their lives, or will they become abusers like Father Allinblack?” I told them that in October, I had started receiving social assistance because I could not work, and I showed them a chart illustrating what I lived on, what it was like to be on social assistance. I continued:
Now, I have asked four times for help. I deserve personal financial compensation. You have the resources, money, lawyers; find out what judges are awarding victims of sexual abuse. As far as I’m concerned, I came to the church for help in July, and I want help now. Father Allinblack’s relatives found out about me two weeks ago.They came and talked to me and offered to be here to support me. That’s what church is about — NOT when I am so depressed I can hardly cope in my own house and I get a letter from you saying, “We want to know how you wish to proceed.”
I was so angry when I got that letter. How, when I am dealing with memories, a separation, troubled teenagers, nightmares — I could go on and on — am I supposed to know what I deserve, what I should get, what I might need five years from now?
I put up another chart and read aloud from it. It was a comprehensive list of everything I wanted — for myself, for other victims, and from the Committee. Topping the list was personal financial compensation, with no strings attached. Then I wanted a Safe Home for victims of sexual abuse, and I listed the features and services it should provide, including everything I had discussed with the women at the birthday party.
 Other victims wanted to meet with Father Allinblack, as I had. And they wanted an apology.
 From the committee I wanted openness. I wanted them to stop protecting Father Allinblack with stories of depression and retirement. I wanted them to name him so that others would be warned and other victims might come forward. I wanted responsibility and communication, not only from committee to committee but parish to parish and diocese to diocese. I wanted them to name a survivor to their committee. I wanted them to define their mandate, in writing, then live by it. I wanted them to institute peer counselling, group therapy, educational programs for religious and laity alike, and a pastoral response team for victims of sexual abuse.
 “I want safety and security,” I told them. “ I want a chance at a better life. I need help and I need it now”:
The research says one in three women are sexually abused by the time they’re eighteen. One in five boys. Do you realize how many women need a safe home and there is nothing for us when the memories are like nightmares, even in the daytime?
 Do something for each victim that comes forward, but do something quick for those who can’t before someone commits suicide. I am church and I am asking all of you to act — not react. I am going home now. I want an immediate response coming from this meeting. I deserve it.
As I spoke, I was jumping from emotion to emotion, from tears to fear to anger. Most of the Committee members were attentive, but some looked bored, glancing around the room or out the window.
 When I finished speaking, one man thanked me, then started talking about how they were all just volunteers trying to do the best they could. I interrupted him. I couldn’t make sense of what he was saying . I asked him to write it out, as I was about to break down and had to leave the room. As I walked to my car, a woman dressed in red came out and told me I was courageous and would I please take money for my gas and meals. She went back into the building and returned with $l50. I was shaking so badly I could hardly smoke.
 The kids had been at their father’s while I was here, and came home shortly after I did. Alfred had told our daughter that I used to call out different men’s names in my sleep and, in his words, would have “wet dreams” all the time. How he could say such a thing to his own daughter, an adolescent girl, was beyond me. There seemed no end to it.
 Later that evening, the member of the committee for victims who had first come to my home in December phoned to see if I had made it back all right. That was nice. She admired what I had done, she said. They had held a joint meeting of the two committees as soon as I left. She assured me that I would be receiving concrete help shortly.
I received a letter from a young man who worked in the diocesan office. Coincidentally, he had once been in a youth choir I had directed. He was now the media liaison between the diocese and a Catholic newspaper. Instead of writing him back, I thought I would phone him. I wanted to tell him that I had been at the committee meeting on Monday and was really excited because they were going to help me. He wasn’t in, though, so I left my name and number for him to call back.
 Within forty-five minutes, I received a call from the Legend parish priest, the one I’d seen the day I made my statement to the RCMP. When he started the conversation with, “What’s the matter, Sharon?” I answered, “Nothing.”
 “You don’t want to talk to…,”: and he mentioned the young man’s name who had written to me.
 “I don’t know what you mean.”
 “You don’t want this in the paper” he said. “Don’t talk to him. Your case is being discussed on Friday.”
 The conversation wasn’t making sense to me. An hour later I was still wondering how he knew I had called the diocesan office. Who took my call? Was the young man even told of it? And who informed the priest? They must really want this kept quiet, I thought. But that was the worst thing that could happen — continued secrecy. It had never occurred to me to contact the media, but if this kind of nonsense continued, I certainly would. I would talk to whoever I wanted.
 I tried to concentrate on my university classes and forget about abuse and the church for a while. It didn’t work. When I wasn’t thinking about it, I was dreaming about it. The young man from the diocesan office wrote and offered to put pressure on the committee , do a write-up, or anything else that might be helpful.
 The nun who had helped the diocese in previous cases of sexual abuse phoned me. She assured me that the committee would go to bat for me; there would be no cover-up. She thought that my expectations for financial compensation, however, should not go beyond counselling costs. She told me that six women had come forward when she worked for the diocese. She thought there should be a pastoral response — yes, it happened and the church was sorry. She spoke of the church’s fear of being seen as less than perfect, or of being held liable in lawsuits.
 That same day two survivors of Father Allinblack called. One was having memories, and her counsellor would be gone for a month. She desperately needed someone to talk to. The other wanted to know if there was any help for partners. She knew of six women who had come forward before I had.
My family friend phoned to tell me that Father Allinblack’s relatives had apparently changed their minds. They didn’t believe it any more. One of my own relatives told me that some of them didn’t want the Harvest name involved.
 I phoned my buddy from woman-to-woman peer counselling, trying to sort out what was happening. How did everything get so bad again?
 That evening Calvin and his wife came to stay overnight, as they were flying out of Saskatoon the next day. They took me to an expensive restaurant. They now had five companies, and talked about marketing and merchandising and how successful they were. They told that someone with no previous experience could make $70,000 a year in sales working for them. I sat there wondering what was real and what wasn’t. I couldn’t figure out what life was about any more. They dropped me off at my Rebuilding Class, and Calvin met my husband for coffee.
 As I drove them to the airport the next morning, Calvin told me that Alfred was really okay; we both just needed time to work through it. “Maybe he is okay,” I said. “I’m just not putting up with anything any more.” Following that overnight stay, my husband started phoning me again.
 My parents came to visit. I read them what I had said to the committee at the diocesan office. It was now fifteen days since I had been to the meeting, and I hadn’t heard a word from them. Other survivors were phoning me to see what happened. Some called to tell me they were making a police statement against Father Allinblack.
 Alfred and I had a scary confrontation. He said my family was more important to me than my kids, and he took the kids. He wasn’t bringing them back, he said. I knew he was trying to save the marriage the only way he knew how: by threats and force. The trouble for him was, I wasn’t interested. His criticisms did raise some questions about my relationship with my family, but I wasn’t about to turn away from what to me was compassion.
 He brought the kids home eventually.
March 2, l993, the priest from Legend phoned to say he’d like to come to my house the next day. I agreed, but asked my buddy to come over and take notes during his visit.
 The priest told me as soon as he came in that he was not representing the committee for victims, but he had a message from them. They were putting together a compensation package, he reported. I would be hearing from them soon. He also said he had talked to the RCMP and had some doubt that Father Allinblack would be charged.
 My buddy took the following notes:
March 3, l993. I was with Sharon when the priest from the committee for victims came to visit her. He made it clear that this was a personal visit. He was not here representing the Committee. He said, however, that he had a message from the Committee, which was that they were working on the issues she had brought up.
 Sharon asked how he came to be on the committee. He said that he has done lots of marriage counselling and his past experience with one of the survivors of Father Allinblack was probably a factor. Also that he heads a support group for priests.
 Sharon asked who the Committee is for. Who is it accountable to (i.e., the church or the victims)? He said both. Sharon asked who in the church specifically (i.e., who in the hierarchy)? He said ultimately the committee is controlled by the accounting department, and he named the person. Ultimately, it is accounting who decides how money is spent. The priest said that individual church priests have no control over money. It is not the priest’s money, it is the parishioners’ money. It is good to have it that way so that money is not doled out without some thought he said. Later he also mentioned that the bishop is at the top.
 Sharon asked about the response from the Committee after she spoke to them. He said it was a good response — that she had done well. He said that it gave some people a better understanding of the situation.
 She asked why she hadn’t heard from the committee in two weeks. He explained that corporations are slow to act because all factors have to be taken into consideration. They have to plan how to respond to one person carefully because they will be responding to others in the same way in the future.
 Sharon asked if there was a joint committee meeting after she left. At first he said no, then said there was. Then Sharon asked if there was another meeting on the Friday after she spoke to the Committee. The priest then remembered that there had not been a joint meeting Monday night, that it was on Friday they had met. He mentioned that a pamphlet was being planned, that all the issues Sharon had presented were written on a list, and that three people were getting together to respond to Sharons situation.
Sharon asked how long Father Allinblack would be in the U.S. The priest didn’t know. He said it would be up to the people there to decide. He mentioned that it may not go to trial because he had spoken to the RCMP and they would be speaking to him again on Thursday or Friday. Sharon asked if it did go to trial, who pays for the defence (i.e., the church’s money or the parishioner’s money or an insurance company)? He said that he thought Father Alllinblack would be paying for it. He was the guilty one. Sharon said that Father Allinblack going to trial does nothing to help the victims. The priest seemed surprised. She said that criminal court does not award compensation. If she wants compensation, she must go through civil court. Sharon asked if he was saying that the church had no responsibility. He said the church was responsible only in relation to the degree of cover-up, and mentioned Newfoundland as an example. The church was responsible there because there was a cover-up. He didn’t appear to think that the church had much responsibility in this case. He even mentioned that Father Allinblack’s family had lots of cattle and that he was probably not broke. This left me with the impression that he felt Sharon should be looking to Father Allinblack for compensation.
 When he had spoken about the RCMP, Sharon had said that in criminal cases the victim has no choice, that the charges are laid by the law, not the victim. The priest said that he always thought the same thing but when he spoke to the RCMP the other day he was left with the impression that this may not necessarily be the case. He was going to check with the RCMP the next time he spoke with them.
 The priest at one point mentioned that the Committee was willing to pay for any counselling that might be needed for Sharon or her kids.
 Sharon said that she wanted more openness from the church. She asked why the church wasn’t more open when Father Allinblack had admitted to his crime. The priest said that the church must be careful because everyone has a right to confidentiality. He said it wasn’t important that the committee know the victim’s names. They just need to know that victims exist. He asked if there were more victims in the local area, and Sharon said she knew of six. She wishes the church was more open because the victims are phoning her and contacting her instead of the Church and she is getting worn out. He told her to tell them to contact him. She said that she would tell them, but all that she can tell them is her own experience which has been one of asking for help for over six months.
 The priest ended by saying that he would be a contact person for Sharon. He offered her financial support on a personal basis — nothing to do with the committee.
 After the priest left, Sharon said she didn’t feel comfortable with this offer and would probably discourage it.
 The priest had also mentioned that he was in the city when Sharon phoned, and that was how he found out that Sharon had contacted the young man who works in the diocesan office.
When the priest arrived at my house that afternoon, he handed me a nuts and chocolate treat for the kids. When he left, he handed me a personal cheque for $l00, but said he didn’t want anyone to know he had given me money. Later, I sent the cheque back with a note of thanks:
“I really appreciated that you came to visit me, brought that great treat for the kids and are willing to talk about the things that are really frustrating me. This is the pastoral response I’ve been talking about since July, and it’s nice to experience.
 I feel uncomfortable with the money you gave me. My whole life was filled with dishonesty, breach of trust, and secrecy, and when you ask me not to say anything about receiving this money I get those same feelings again. Because I have borrowed money in place until the end of April I’m going to return the cheque to you. After that, things might be different. Thank you for your understanding and taking time for me and my kids.”
That night Alfred came over and forced me to sign a paper stipulating that I would never ask for support from him. I signed it. I told him to leave me alone. He said he would.
 The next day the RCMP constable phoned to let me know that a letter was being sent to Father Allinblack to see if he would return to Saskatchewan voluntarily to face charges.
 I had a near-accident in my car — the second in a month — and knew it was because I couldn’t keep my mind shut off. Alfred had my daughter reading my journals to let him know what was happening. He saw both my doctor and a psychologist, because he was convinced I was schizophrenic. My doctor wouldn’t discuss anything with him, of course, and the psychologist saw him as having more problems than I did. Alfred admitted all this in a contrite manner and left me alone for a few days. Then he sent me flowers, and asked if I would see a new counsellor he had been to. I said I would — but only after Alfred had seen him ten times.
 The kids were fighting with each other non-stop, hitting, swearing, calling each other names and fighting over curfew. When they were with Alfred, he had them phoning me to check where I was, what I was doing, who I was with.
 March 11, l993, I wrote in my journal:
The flowers and apology didn’t last, as he comes here every day, as if now I should be supportive and the focus is all on him. He might go off the deep end any minute, he says. He can’t face any more. He won’t be responsible for what might happen. The only ending he can see is the John A. McDonald ending (a man had killed his wife and then himself on John A. McDonald Road). To me a restraining order is as bad as going on welfare, but now I’m resigned. Maybe it’s the only thing that will get the message across — good for the kids in the long run.
The next night I went to my Rebuilding Class and one of the men gave me a bumper sticker: “I still miss my ex-husband but my aim is improving.” I laughed, but it wasn’t really funny.
 On March l6 I wrote down everything Alfred had done in the past two months, then phoned the police about getting a restraining order. They told me that if I could prove he would do me harm, then I should come down. I hung up. I had no proof.
 My daughter was threatening to move out every time I set a limit. On March 23 I said to her that I needed to be treated with respect, and if she didn’t want to follow the rules she might have to go live with her Dad. She moved out that same day, convinced that I had kicked her out. Alfred phoned later to see if I was okay. He told me the only reason he told the kids I was a fucking bitch was because I made him so angry. “This is supposed to make me feel better?” I asked myself. The next day he wrote a letter overflowing with apologies.
 My parents phoned often to see how I was. Mom was unable to talk about anything but the weather or something equally non-threatening. I could talk to Dad about the church, but not what was happening in my own house. His only response was, “Hang in there” or “Hang tough,” and about the church he would observe, “As long as it can never happen again,” or “At least they’re a lot more aware of it.”
 The priest from Legend told me he would bring the letter of response from the committee for victims. My buddy came over, but she didn’t take notes. I had decided that I was just going to receive the letter and not discuss it until I had a chance to think about their response.
 The priest read the letter to me. It basically said that they were thankful and appreciated my sharing my experience with them. They believed my recommendations had merit, that I am a victim, want the priest that came to my house to be the liason, that I need to be evaluated and assessed for my needs and some assistance can be put together. They will attempt to find a neutral person to come up with a package. There were paragraphs regarding each of those points. They will communicate with other people regarding the concept of a treatment centre. They wanted me to let other people know they could come forward and spoke of confidentiality. There were many paragraphs to the letter about the education that I had proposed and a copy of a phamplet was enclosed. They assured me the bishop was aware of all they were sharing with me. They spoke of their gratitude for my sharing.
March 23, l993, from my journal:
By page two I’m gritting my teeth. By the end of that page, I am crying. When he asks me what’s my initial reaction, I say, “I’m gritting my teeth. I won’t discuss this today.” He explains that this is the first time a diocese has dealt with this. There’s nowhere for them to get help. They’re all volunteers. If I need money for counselling, kid’s counselling, I’ll get it. If I want to be a seamstress or a hairdresser, that’s negotiable. I can phone him collect. The diocese will pay.
The rest of the day and the days following I couldn’t think about it. I had other things to worry about. My son was thinking about moving in with his Dad and sister.. His two months with me were nearly up, and he wanted to be fair. I had to work on presentations and papers for my university classes. I had to report changes in maintenance enforcement if the kids weren’t living with me. I had to decide if I was going to register for intersession and summer classes or go on welfare again. I was behind in the correspondence class. I wondered if family counselling would help the kids understand what was happening.
 Over the weekend, I jotted down things regarding the church’s response:
Who are all parties concerned — Father Allinblack, the church, the committee for victims? Who is an arbitrator? a moderator? Is this mediation? How will I ever know if a mediator is neutral? Is the committee an advocate for me or the corporation? They are ruling out compensation. Everyone thinks I need a lawyer; they keep telling me the church has been consulting lawyers all along. Is it the church’s responsibility for what Father Allinblack did? He resigned. Is that enough? Why did he go to the States? If there isn’t a program here for him, why isn’t the church making one? This is epidemic. They knew years ago — why wasn’t he taken out of parish work? What does a priest get for retirement? A pension? Is he the one that should be giving money to victims? How will it end if we don’t change the priesthood?
 Do I want a safe home for the women that keep phoning me? myself? How can I get it? Is the church stalling? Could compensation be in services rather than payment? How do I find out if the church knew all along? How do we change the church? Are the committee’s hands tied?
Women phoned me to find out if I’d heard anything from the church. Some thought I needed a good, Catholic lawyer. Others thought any lawyer would do as long as he or she wasn’t Catholic. They all held the church responsible. One wanted to storm the diocese, hold a hunger strike. It was difficult not to agree with all of them.
 Within a week of moving out, my daughter wanted to come home. We talked about it, but in the end she decided to stay with her father. Alfred told her that he was afraid my boyfriend would abuse her. It was the first I’d heard that I even had a boyfriend.
 I had a long talk with the director of the catholic service agency where I was going for counselling. She spoke of the church being a patriarchal system, and the only way they could deal with cases like this was through an adversarial approach. I wanted to know what canon law said about the church’s responsibility. She said the church was always learning new things, but we needed patience in dealing with them. She talked of the difficulties in changing a structure. As for the committee for victims, their intentions were good but they were not hearing me. I told her I didn’t know who was on whose side. She said a lot of the issues I was dealing with were simply the process of healing. I was just having a hard time trusting. When I got off the phone, I wondered, “Do I trust anyone?”
 My parents got a letter from a relative whose daughter had been abused by Father Allinblack. My father told me he was never going to church again. “Did any of the survivors or any of their parents get so much as an apology from the church?” he asked.
 I spoke to a survivor who had just given her police statement. She told me that Father Allinblack would be back in Canada in two weeks.
 My son moved. He was crying a lot, recalling past events, the friends he’d had to say goodbye to, the schools. He was wondering what there would be here to remember him by if his Dad moved to BC and he went along.
 I was now living alone in my four-bedroom house, finishing essays and studying for final exams. I went to a follow-up from my domestic abuse group and cried from beginning to end. A woman gave me information on a twelve-week group on self-empowerment in Oiltown. The name alone sounded awesome. I resolved to go. That night I dreamed that rows and rows of priests were looking at me in disapproval.
I went to my first self-empowerment class in Oiltown with another woman. We stayed overnight at my sister’s. When I got back to Saskatoon, I felt a freedom and an excitement about life I hadn’t known for a long time. I felt like organizing and cleaning my house. I felt like myself again, how I used to be before my memories came back. I wondered if it was because Lent was nearly over, or because Alfred was out of town for the weekend, or because of the class in Oiltown. I didn’t care. I just felt good.
 Then I went outside to empty the garbage and found that the shed in the backyard had been emptied. The barbecue, the lawnmower, the trampoline: they were all gone. I saw footsteps in the snow, leading to a bedroom window. When I went back into the house, I looked around and found a note from Alfred. It was an appointment card with his new counsellor.
 I went to the Easter Vigil alone. It was a horrible, cynical two and a half hours. I tried not to cry. When I watched the priest hugging women after Mass, I wanted to throw up. All he had talked about in the sermon was helping the Third World. What about my world?
 I spent Easter Sunday at my aunt’s. She kept telling me I had to pray, keep the faith, work on my own salvation. I can’t judge the church, she said. I went home so upset that I forgot my coat there.
I was home for an hour when a woman named Suzie called. She said she had met me in a group and wanted to know how I was. I started talking about my horrible Easter, then realized it was not Suzie on the phone but my daughter. She was being coached in the background by Alfred.
 I told Alfred he would be charged with breaking and entering if he ever came into my house again. I felt better, but it didn’t help me sleep. I woke up at least twenty times during the night, and when I did sleep I had nightmares. During the next week, I managed to lock myself out of the house twice.
 Another survivor of Father Allinblack phoned to tell me she had asked the RCMP if they could have access to the diocesan files. They said not unless more information justified it.
 On April 17, I wrote out how I might answer the letter from the committee for victims:
I wish I could be at your meeting, but after appearing basically unannounced as I did at the February meeting, I feel I had better wait for an invitation. There are still things I wish I could talk to you about and keep the dialogue open.
 I have gone through two months of hell. Part of it is what I am living right now and part of it is Lent and Easter. I was abused by Father Allinblack during Lent, and this Lent and Easter were among the hardest I’ve ever had.
 I have been mixed up regarding what to do with the letter you sent. Part of me says the church isn’t responsible for what he did; part of me says he was representing the church while I was practising for first communion when he abused me. If the church already knew he was an abuser and did nothing, I deserve compensation. If they never knew, which I tend to believe, I still deserve assistance: “in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.” What does canon law say about this? I’d like to talk to the bishop and have him open his files about when the first parent or parish representative came forward regarding Father Allinblack. I want truth. If you are a committee for victims, work on that one for me.
 My thoughts on the letter:
 First paragraph: how would you know if I have a rapport with the priest]who came to my home? Did anyone ask me? The priest is a wonderful person, but he is mentioned in the same paragraph as the pastoral response team I asked for. I have trouble with a man the same age as Father Allinblack, and a priest, coming to my house. I stress again that a counsellor should be part of the pastoral response team who stays in daily or weekly contact — that is, a representative of the church and committee with whom I can share my thoughts, fears, and feelings, and who will listen to my anger. I like the committee member who first came to my house, but am saddened that nobody talks to me other than to say, “How do you wish to proceed?” It sounds as if a lawyer told you what to say. Why is the committee not providing me with the same rights as Father Allinblack?
 Second Paragraph: evaluating and assessing my needs. I thought that was what the committee was doing the three times they came to my house. Regarding a neutral arbitrator: how would I ever know if he or she was neutral? I have a hard time with trust. Regarding “all parties concerned”: who are all parties? Me? The church? The committee? Father Allinblack?
 When I hear the word “arbitrator,” I wonder, why are there sides to this? Who’s on whose side? Who is the committee for, me or them? If the committee is for me, are you accountable to me? Would I be able to have the minutes of your meetings?
 A person I know got the impression from a member of the committee that I had closed the lines of communication, and made it clear I wasn’t willing to discuss anything. I couldn’t discuss anything on February l5, l993 when I made the presentation — I was too upset — but that did not mean I wasn’t open to listening later. I wish someone had asked me about it.
 I like the brochure and think it is a step forward, but I question the term “object of sexual gratification.” Is it not, rather, power and control? And under heading, “What happens after I contact the committee?” the phrase “inquiries how you wish to proceed” bothers me. Someone who is healing doesn’t know from one day to the next how she “might wish to proceed.” And the phrase, “Discussion on options that are available”: I’d like that explained.
 I am happy to hear about the educational workshops.
 After my questions are addressed, I will be interested in an arbitrator, and I would like Father Allinblack present at any arbitration.
I never did mail that letter.
 Three days later, my twenty-year-old stepdaughter phoned at 4:00 a.m. from the city jail. She had tried to rob a donut shop. At l0:00 that morning I was at the provincial courthouse, only to learn that a bail hearing had been set for the following day. I spoke to an Elizabeth Fry worker and the crown prosecutor on her behalf. A legal aid lawyer told me that bail would probably be set at $200. I phoned Alfred to see if he or the girl’s natural mother would post bail. I took a sweater to my stepdaughter, as it was so cold in the holding cells. The second day I took $200 of my student loan money to the bail hearing, as her mother and father had both refused. The judge set bail at $5,000, and that afternoon she was sent to Pine Grove Correctional Centre.
 I suppose I should have looked on that as my introduction to the justice system. None of it made sense. It was the first time she had been in trouble. I had explained to the prosecutor that violence, alcoholism, and abuse had been part of her life since she was a child. And now she was in Pine Grove.
 I went to Oiltown to attend the next self-empowerment class. I did my first collage. The leader handed me a large piece of paper, magazines, and scissors, with instructions to cut out pictures or words that described how my life had been up to now. These I was to glue on one side of the paper. The other side was for pictures and words describing how I wanted my life to be. I got right at it.
 I suppose mine was fairly predictable: a priest, rape, growing up, gloom and doom, the shame I had felt all my life, the drudgery of housework, my sister’s death, losing my kids, a man and a woman blurred, rushing. When I looked at it, I felt utter exhaustion. I just wanted to lie down and have it go away. The other side, though, was beauty, serenity, good food, flowers, swimming, law books — would I decide to become a lawyer? — tenting, biking, laughter, kittens, massage, golf. The main picture on that side of the collage was an empty deck chair on the sandy shore of a beautiful, isolated lake.
 As soon as I got back to Saskatoon, a survivor called to tell me she was retaining a lawyer. It was the same lawyer who had handled my sister’s estate. On April 26, l993, I had a consultation with her. She was understanding about everything I was trying to deal with, and advised me not to send the letter to the diocesan committee for victims. I gave her copies of all my correspondence with the church and asked her to handle it. After that day, I always referred to her as my church lawyer.
 I received my final marks from university. I had done well, but I couldn’t shake the depression and exhaustion that was dogging me. I had no energy. I wanted to go back to bed every day and sleep the hours away. My mind was asleep — or dead. I practised bioenergetics and meditation, and I walked endlessly. What scared me the most was when I felt absolutely nothing. At such times I wondered if the rest of my life would be spent in this state of aloneness, shame, and depressed anger.
 The next self-empowerment workshop was on spirituality. I stayed with my sister in Oiltown for a week. I spoke with my children one night, and just hearing their voices over the telephone started me crying. The crying helped. Fortuitously, the next workshop was on emotions, and I learned that what I was going through made absolute sense. I felt better going back to Saskatoon.
The children spent a weekend with me. They were upset because their father had a girlfriend. I wasn’t disturbed about that. It was a relief more than anything. What upset me was when they told me he slept with her in the same motel room with the kids.
 I received a letter from my church lawyer saying that she was reviewing decisions in this area and would get back to me.
 On May l5, I took the phone off the hook for the first time in my life. I needed space and rest, and time to myself. I had started my intersession courses at university, and I didn’t want to get overwhelmed. I was excited, but scared. Things seemed to be settling down at last. Alfred had a girlfriend and wasn’t harassing me any more. I didn’t have to think about the church; my lawyer did that.
 The next week Alfred phoned at l:00 a.m. He had spent the weekend with his girlfriend. Now he wanted to come over and have sex with me. I went downtown the next morning and filed for divorce.
At the beginning of June, my son moved back in with me. We went to a wedding that weekend. I was shocked at how cynical I was.
 The week of June 5, media outlets across the province broke the story of two Saskatchewan priests who were being investigated for sexual abuse. My own reaction set in when I saw Father Allinblack’s face on the six o’clock news. My body remembered him. I felt immediate, excruciating pain in my left arm and leg, and in my groin. It lasted two days.
 The local paper carried the story of a seventy-year-old priest who had “confessed to sexually assaulting two pre-adolescent girls.” A second priest, aged seventy-one, “was under investigation as a result of several allegations linking him to sexual abuse.” Both had been suspended from their ministries and were undergoing voluntarily treatment in the United States. A church spokesperson spoke of the church going through a process of healing and reconcilliation with the hope of it leaving a stronger church. 
 Prairietown’s paper named Father Allinblack as the former Legend priest who “has admitted to sexually abusing two girls in that community thirty years ago.” According to the story, he also admitted “acting inappropriately” toward other girls during his career.
 That was an understatement, I thought.
 This paper mentioned that a committee for victims of child sexual abuse had been established in the diocese a month after Father Allinblack left for treatment, and quoted: “Apparently, at least one of the women involved in the Legend case has sought help with that particular committee.” The spokesperson for the archdiocese, expressed his hope that other victims would come forward to seek help.
 I wondered if he knew what he was saying.
 The paper also noted a second priest was accused of abusing a young boy in September l992, but denied any wrongdoing. No charges had been laid.
 A small town paper of the area also carried a story that said much the same thing as the others, though it listed Allinblack as sixty-nine, not seventy. It also revealed that the RCMP had decided not to lay charges against the other priest, “with the understanding that he would receive counselling through the church.” The church spokesperson renewed his plea that, “If there are any other victims, we hope they would come forward in the strictest confidentiality.” The story concludedthat the the victim’s committee is just now finding its balance within the guidelines set up by the Canadian Catholic bishops. 
 On behalf of the diocese, the spokesperson extended sympathy to the alleged victims, their families and parishes.
Over the next week, twenty-eight people called with varying reactions to the news. Many of them just wanted to pass on messages of support. One survivor told me she had gone to see a priest for the first time in years, and he told her that if she’d come back to church, he’d get her marriage annulled for free. One woman phoned to tell me she thought I should drop this. Another said, “Just what do you want?” One woman told me that a petition in support of Father Allinblack was circulating in the parish where I grew up.
 Some survivors of Father Allinblack phoned because they felt as if they were falling apart. Some had been in constant fear since they saw his face on television. Some were angry at the church’s response and wanted to issue a statement themselves.
 For three days after the press statements, I was depressed and had no energy. Then I woke up one morning enraged:
I’d like to tape my mind, my thoughts. If I don’t get rid of this anger, I’ll be depressed, down, tired. I have all this anger in me. Don’t want to displace it. Church hierarchy has some responsibility, can be doing something for victims. I gave them lots of ideas and lots of time. If they care, they’d have let me know before their big statement. Asking me, what do you want — I want lots, and I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about caring, support, material things too like the little things I asked for. Think of that priest saying, I can get you an annulment free. I could just lose it. I’m so mad. Biggest question on people’s minds is what do you want. I want help through this. I want truth, openness, honesty, changes in church, society. The church can start.
After I wrote that, I was exhausted. I went to bed. All I could think of was, I should write a book. I’d call it Abused in Church. I would end it with, “For the next thirty years, are victims going to be remembering and going through this nightmare? Is the church going to be there for them?” I decided half the money from a book could go to Safe Home Saskatchewan.
 Calvin came to visit and got more of my anger. I asked him if he was any different than Father Allinblack, and if so, how? Is that why he didn’t have his kids with him? He said he was different, and he never abused his kids.
 After he left, I packed my car. I was going out of town for the weekend to attend my grandmother’s birthday party. I locked myself out of the house. Since Alfred and my daughter had been coming in through the basement window, I’d had bars put in the window. I couldn’t get in.
 I went to Mass that weekend, but I couldn’t believe in the things I used to. My sister gave me a box of photographs to look through. I found two pictures of me, one before Father Allinblack abused me, and one after. I started crying uncontrollably. People wanted to know how something that had happened thirty years ago could still affect me like that. I couldn’t answer, except to say that it just did.
 An aunt told me that my brain must be like a pot-scratcher — everything going round and round, can’t take one piece and sort it out because it was so entangled.
 Also that weekend, I found out Granny had cancer. After seeing her, I didn’t think she’d make it till Christmas.
 I got back to Saskatoon, the weekend over. The next day I locked my purse and keys in the car. I had to call a tow truck. I was nearly crying, standing outside the grocery store, feeling fragile and vulnerable. All my dreams during those days were about abandonment, vulnerability, and sickness. In many of them I was on my way to funerals.
June l4, l993, I got the a letter from my church lawyer: She spoke of the significant coverage in the press regarding the activities of Father Allinblack. She let me know she had been contacted by another Allinblack survivor. My church lawyer knew this woman wanted to make a statement to the press in the hope that it would encourage others to come forward but let us know it was her recommendation to her that we wait for a week to see if the press conference, which has already taken place, would be sufficient enticement for others to step forward. If it wasn’t, she was suggesting we would then speak to the Legend RCMP detachment and determine if they feel that it would be beneficial to their investigation.
 She wanted to be as supportive of the RCMP as possible for two reasons. She listed those saying much of the work which they are currently doing would be of assistance if it becomes necessary to pursue the civil claim through the courts. She said she was hopeful that this matter would simply be resolved through negotiation but that my position improves by the additional information which they collect at no cost to you. The second reasons listed was her thinking that everyone agrees that a criminal conviction of Father Allinblack would be in the best interests of the general public and would also allow me to obtain some closure on this matter.
 She asked to receive my thoughts on the matter saying she proposed to contact the RCMP Detachment on June l6, l993but expected they would not be in favor of this.
I didn’t see any point in making a public statement. When she talked about negotiations, though, I wondered if it was with the committee for victims or with the diocesan lawyers. I asked whether a civil suit would be filed first.
 On June l8, I got another letter from my church lawyer. It contained a proposal of settlement which she said was set as a starting point only for our discussions. She let me know the figure of 6.11131 used to calculate total damages is an annuity factor which is provided by the rules of Court and assists in determining what amount of money would be needed to invest at the present time to generate the necessary cash flow over a seven year recovery period.
 She was asking me to review various items and rates provided with my Counsellor to see if there were other services which would be necessary and if the rates for such things as the counselling and workshops were adequate.
 She used an estimated income at the present time of $20,000 per year to calculate my lost salary presuming approximate earnings of $l,500 to $l,700 per month. She said while my income might be significantly higher than that if I were in full-time employment, the $20,000 figure takes into consideration that, at some time before the end of the seven years, I might be in a position to obtain part-time or even full-time employment. She was setting these figures out simply to start the discussion process and would very much appreciate my input on the level of income that I felt would represent fair compensation to myself. She wanted my comments at my earliest convenience.
Proposal of Settlement, Sharon Speaks
Massage Therapy $30/hr x 52 hrs/yr x 6.1113l $ 9,533.64
Counselling $75/hr x 52 hrs/yr x 6.1113l $ 23,834.l0
Workshops $225/yr x 6.1113l $ l,375.04
Income loss $20,000 x 6.1113l $ l22,226.20
$ l56,968.98
Plus general damages for pain and suffering $ 50,000.00
Total Damage Claim $ 206,968.98

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