An Open Letter to Priests
I am a Catholic survivor of incest and other childhood abuse. I have been a recipient of Mental Health services and currently work in the Mental Health field with adults diagnosed with chronic mental illnesses. I would like to share with you some of my experiences before I ask you to please stop sending women to counseling.
While I was working as an intern in two different places at once, one being a Veterinarian clinic and the other a counseling office, I was placed in a very difficult situation for any woman but especially difficult for one with my background. The Veterinarian had a file at the Counselors office and I was able to read his clinical notes. (Counseling notes do not have the privacy that the Seal of Confession offers. HIPAA does not provide anywhere near the protection that the Seal does.) This man had confessed to a beautiful, tall, blond, female Mental Health Nurse Practitioner that he mentally undresses the women who work in his clinic, suffers from ED and has anger issues. She recommended that he “watch pornography to aid his manual stimulation to help overcome ED and go tanning to help with anger.” I wish I was making this up, but I am not. HE confessed to HER and SHE prescribed SIN. SHE told HIM to watch pornography and masturbate and work on his anger in a tanning bed. I wish this was an isolated incident, but sadly it was not. All of her notes that I was privy to as I did her dictation offered advice along these lines. She even suggested to a married couple that they watch porn to help a “dry patch” they were going through.
One of the men I care for with a chronic mental illness was receiving command hallucinations to corner and rape me. He was admitted to the hospital where he was advised by the Psychologist who runs the floor to “watch porn in his room until the urge to rape is gone.” Again, I wish to God this was a joke. I have many more instances such as these to share, but I’ll leave it at these.
When I began actively healing from incest, the first person I turned to was my Priest in the Military. He advised I go to counseling and stated he did not feel competent to help with such issues. So I did; I started AMAC Counseling. While in therapy I was taught to “embrace my anger as the fuel to get me through the healing process.” As a Catholic with a basic Catholic High School education, I was taught that anger was one of the seven deadly sins. So, during the week, I would “embrace my anger” and on weekends I would confess my sins of anger that I was committing because my Priest told me to go to counseling. It was the same for compulsive sexual sins, hatred and addictive behaviors. It seems the only thing that my counselors and Priests agreed on was forgiveness but even on that they were divided on what that was and how to go about it. The confusion and guilt drove me to leave the Church for about a year because there was no way I could heal when the healing process included committing sins that I had to confess. Something had to give, either I stop therapy or I stop going to Church; the two were incompatible. I eventually did stop therapy when I was advised to burn my memories in a “fire cleansing ceremony”…
When I turned to other Priests for help over the years, I was advised to go to therapy until I met one good Priest who led me through the healing process with only the Church and Saints as guides.
The women I have known that have gone to a Priest for help with abuse issues are usually going as a last resort instead of first recourse. Please stop sending them back to therapy. They are coming to you because you are a man of God, an ordained Priest an Alter Christus.
How can men and women who prescribe pornography as a remedy for sexual sins have true understanding and compassion for incest and sexual abuse survivors?
One Sacramental Confession and hour of Adoration has more power to heal abuse wounds than months of therapy. If a woman who was abused comes to you, she is looking for Christ. Don’t send her back to the wolves. With the statistics claiming that one in three women have been sexually abused as children, the chances are very good that you will have a few coming to you for help. Give her the advice of the Church and Saints, not the garbage of hell.
If you, Father, can’t help us, who can?
“The priest holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of His goods…The priest is not a priest for himself, he is a priest for you.”
St John Vianney