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Many people still have misgivings about victims of sexual abuse and compensation. Somehow they "sense" that victims are "out for the money," and that money will not address the real problems that victims of sexual abuse by priests have. I believe recent communications from the Peoria Diocese headquarters has unconsciously supported those misgivings.

The problem centers on words being thrown around: compensation and money. I believe they are the wrong words to use, but suitable to the underlying intentions of the user. The correct word is "reparation." Reparation is defined as "a repairing or being repaired; restoration to good condition; making amends; making up for a wrong or injury; anything paid or done to make up for something else." When someone has destroyed something of yours, you want reparation for it.

So what are the things needing reparation with victims of sexual abuse? Besides the costs of counseling, what is the price for lost innocence, a totally ruined life? Including immeasurable suffering both physically, while being violated, and emotionally, but also spiritually - God, religion gone. What is loss of trust worth? Loss of trust in all people. Alone - can't tell anyone - and lonely. Self doubt and loss of confidence in doing anything. Can't hold a descent job. Nightmares every night. Inability to have a social life - no friends -at all. Questions everything that they feel or say. Suicidal feelings -a number have taken their lives.

What is a ruined life worth? Will "counseling" repair all this? Victims of abuse need to be affirmed as worthy human beings. They need to know that they are not alone; that the faith community supports the hurting and suffering. They need to be acknowledged.

All this is why reparation to victims is needed.

Dennis Kirby

Bloomington

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