Societal progress on 'coming clean'......

A section on how we were parented and how we parent our own children (where relevant). It is likely that much of the origins of our Limerence start in childhood, this is an important sub-forum.
JohnDeux
Posts: 2006
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Societal progress on 'coming clean'......

Post by JohnDeux »

**Child sexual abuse topic warning**

Didn't really know where to put this, but the Children and Parenting sub-forum seemed the most appropriate. It could be argued that the post below is not related to limerence, but given that some of us feel that repressed/shadow aspects of ourselves, often created during childhood, will make themselves heard in our adult lives......one way possibly being limerence.....I guess I didn't think it was too much of a stretch. It's not often that cases emerge where the perpetrator of abuse either comes clean about their own victimization as a child or that it is reported in the press. The immediate societal vilification of perpetrators understandably shuts down any discussion of sympathy or clemency for a person found guilty of perpetrating child sexual abuse. My own feeling is that either perpetrators, or in the following case, someone fantasizing about perpetrating, need to be sequestered in such a way as they are not able to perpetrate. I will not elaborate on that point further because I'm more interested in the evolution, ....in society...in the press....in discussions around the water cooler, ....of the notion that perpetration is often (even if not always) rooted in unconscious re-enactment/acting out of past victimization of the perpetrator. This is where the general subject matter intersects with limerence I feel.....the power of repressed, early-life, unconscious aspects of ourselves that may drive inner fantasy/torment and often outward embarrassing, hurtful, and sometimes criminal behavior during our adult years.

In the following case, there is a clear *legal* need for the actions taken by an attorney working on behalf of past victims of abuse, yet the person in question...a Catholic priest....is coming clean about the possible drivers underlying his inclinations. (It should be noted that in cases where clear sexual abuse of children has occurred, the history of the perpetrator as being a victim at one time almost never results in reduced sentencing----with the unfortunate exception from my reading of defrocked priests.) As someone raised Catholic through high school and understanding of how this topic is interwoven through parishes, schools, and communities, I think it a healthy development as compared to my earlier years that the issue with respect to abused children specifically, and to the power of "silencing" and its ramifications on the adult self more broadly, is increasingly being raised in the media.

As always, if the content of this post is deemed inappropriate or irrelevant, I have no issues with its removal from the forum.
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Written By: April Baumgarten | Nov 17th 2019 - 5am.

FERTILE, Minn. — Like any other Sunday, the Rev. Joseph Richards led Mass on Nov. 10 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Fertile, a northwest Minnesota town in Polk County with almost 850 residents.

But this was the first Sunday Richards would address the congregation since it was revealed he was sexually abused as a child by his great-uncle. It was also disclosed that he sought help after having sexual fantasies about children and that he admitted to inappropriately touching a 5-year-old when he was 14.

“Those who know me and know my story are dumbfounded as to how this can be happening, as I was a minor ... who was being sexually abused myself at the time,” Richards wrote in an email interview with The Forum.

Jeff Anderson and Associates, a St. Paul law firm that represents sexual abuse victims in lawsuits against Catholic leaders and dioceses across the U.S., released on Nov. 5 documents and videos that were part of a $5 million settlement between 15 victims and the Diocese of Crookston. The diocese includes the cities of Moorhead, East Grand Forks and Bemidji. One of those documents included a 1993 mental health evaluation report on Richards, who told a doctor he was sexually abused by his great-uncle, who was in his 80s at the time. The relative was never criminally charged, and he died in 1982. Richards also did not face charges in connection with the inappropriate touching incident as a 14-year-old. He has never faced any other allegations of sexual abuse.

Ordained in 1990, Richards told a former bishop in 1993 he once sexually abused another child, according to the diocese. He took a leave of absence for nine months of treatment and returned to his ministry duties. He has been a priest at St. Joseph’s in Fertile since 2012. Anderson called on Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner, who is at the center of a Vatican-ordered probe regarding whether he prevented authorities from investigating sexual misconduct in his diocese, to remove Richards as a priest and as the bishop’s judicial vicar — an adviser to Hoeppner.

“I am alarmed and we are disturbed that this priest remains in ministry in the Diocese of Crookston on the choice of this bishop,” Anderson said during a Nov. 5 news conference, referring to Richards as a “peril of a real risk in real time.”

Richards' family and parishioners have defended him, calling him a Godly man who is well-liked and respected.

“I haven’t spoken to anyone personally who doesn’t support Father Joe,” said Kirsten Fuglseth, a religion education coordinator at St. Joseph’s. “After news of the press conference broke, Father Joe addressed a packed church at St. Joseph’s, and he did what he always does — he pointed us back to God by encouraging us to continue to pray, live out our faith and hold our heads high as Catholic faithful.” Bishop Hoeppner said there are no plans to remove Richards as a priest or as judicial vicar, as he is not a risk to children.

“He is a great priest who brings Jesus Christ to people in Word and Sacrament,” Hoeppner wrote. “People want him as their priest.”

Richards said he feels he has been revictimized by Anderson. He said his past is a scar that “does not control my life.”

“What happened when I was a 14-year-old, being abused by a relative and inappropriately touching another minor, is terrible, but it does not render me a pedophile or abuser of children,” he said.

The child and their family did not come forward to accuse Richards. Anderson told The Forum that Richards' case is significant not because he admitted to sexually abusing a child when he was 14 but rather the information he shared with a former bishop and in therapy sessions: that he had fantasies about sexually abusing children. Anderson said his law firm released the information so people can decide whether Richards poses a risk.

Richards' name was added to the diocese’s list of “individuals who have been accused of sexual abuse of a minor,” meaning investigations into him could not sustain the claims, diocese spokeswoman Janelle Gergen said. But Richards is not on the Crookston Diocese's list of credibly accused priests, she said. Richards said he was 12 years old when his great-uncle moved into his home. The relative sexually abused him for five years, he said.

"When I was 14 years old, and being abused myself, on one occasion I inappropriately touched another minor that I was babysitting,” he said. “After that incident I vowed that I would never do that again.”

He said he doesn’t consider the incident with the 5-year-old to be sexual assault. When asked if he considered it sexual abuse, he said, “I don't know. It was a touch, fully clothed.” His mental health evaluation report said he experienced repressed memories and flashbacks. He began to have fantasies about abusing children, which is why he sought help, according to the report. “I would fight the thoughts,” he said. “I knew that to be healthy I needed help; I couldn’t do it alone.”

The diocese reviewed Richards' case after he completed treatment and decided he could continue his work as a priest, Hoeppner said.

“The work that I have done has helped to break the cycle of abuse,” Richards said. “The only way we will ever break that cycle is one person at a time.” Fuglseth called Richards’ story one of redemption rather than “a sequel to the trauma he suffered as a child.”

Anderson said Hoeppner misrepresented Richards' situation by saying the priest is not a risk. Richards still poses a risk, Anderson said, and letting him return to his ministry without warning the public was reckless. There is general acknowledgement the public has a right to know about people with a history of sexual abuse, said Terry McKiernan, founder of the Bishop Accountability website that tracks clergy members with histories of sexual abuse.

There is no guarantee a sexual abuser will re-offend, but it’s a strong possibility, McKiernan said. “You need to know if the person you rely on is a danger to your children,” he said.

A number of priests sexually abused children before joining the clergy, McKiernan said. He noted the late Rev. James Porter, who was accused of sexually abusing hundreds of children, including in Crookston. Records trace at least one crime against a child during a summer camp when Porter was a seminarian, McKiernan said.

McKiernan believes Richards’ history should be made public. The church “has to hold its priests to a zero-tolerance standard,” he said, adding that the Crookston Diocese should have screened Richards and found out about his history before he was ordained. Dennis Cooley, director of the Northern Plains Ethics Institute at North Dakota State University, said people who realize that thoughts of abusing children are wrong and seek help, especially if they don’t act on them, should not be punished. If they are, priests may be hesitant to go to counseling if they think confidential information may be made public, he said.

“They have to be able to trust their therapists and for them to work out how to deal with it,” Cooley said. “I’m very worried about that because it gives the signal to other people just to lie or not say anything, which I think is far more dangerous.” McKiernan said a person who has abused children would not be allowed to join the ministry today. The church should not grandfather people into the system because previous procedures were inadequate, he said.

Richards told The Forum he feels blessed by the overwhelming support he has received, despite the difficulty of the situation. “I forgave my great uncle a long time ago. Now, I have to work on forgiving Jeffrey Anderson and those around him,” he said.

The mental health evaluation report Anderson released was meant to ascertain whether Richards needed help, Richards said. Anderson never talked to him but instead revictimized him by “twisting a report that was taken when I went for help,” Richards said. “Jeffrey Anderson says he is fighting for the victims of sexual abuse,” Richards said. “In effect, Mr. Anderson, in his condemnation of me because of some of the demons that I was fighting against, has condemned all victims of sexual abuse.”

Richards could have become a statistic but instead sought healing, Fuglseth said. She accused Anderson of taking “the low road” and opening “a very old wound in a very public and embarrassing way, for no reason other than a financial settlement and to destroy the Catholic Church.”
“Why wouldn’t they feature this as a story of how the church got it right in their handling of childhood sexual abuse?” she asked.

The church is heavily woven into parishioners’ lives, McKiernan said. Priests participate not only in Mass but often are involved in other aspects of life. They become trusted figures, so it’s hard to comprehend when that trusted person is revealed as a child abuser, he said. McKiernan said Christians should remember their religion is one of the victim.

"It’s a celebration, in a way, of Jesus being willing to become a victim on our behalf," he said. "Because of that, every Catholic’s first priority, every Christian’s first priority, ought to be the victims in these situations, not the perpetrators."

Sexual abuse by anyone needs to be taken seriously, Richards said, but he noted most priests are good people.
“Don’t judge the whole because of the actions of a few,” he said.
"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain...."~ The Wizard of Oz

NoDayDreaming

Re: Societal progress on 'coming clean'......

Post by NoDayDreaming »

we made a huge progress, we are talking about that tabu (duh, i know it's obvious, but i couldn't resist, LOL).

mamasita
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Re: Societal progress on 'coming clean'......

Post by mamasita »

As a childhood victim of sexual abuse (abused by older boys...not men), I've always felt that a child who touches another child is not necessarily destined to be a pedophile. I'm sure some do progress to being a full fledged pedos, but not all.
At the same time, I've been told that I could have some Stockholm syndrome since I love the boys/family who molested me as a child. They're not pedophiles. :-?? This is yet another division in my family that has put me in between some tough spots. Some believe they should...35+ years later be labeled and people should be warned.

Bridget
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Re: Societal progress on 'coming clean'......

Post by Bridget »

I was sexually molested by older boys and by my step-father, who was more than 30 years older than me. I, like Mamasita, don't consider the older boys to be pedophiles, but ideally they would have received some type of intervention that made clear their actions were wrong.

I wish that there was more room in society to discuss (and research?) what leads people to sexually abuse children (or adults, but that is a different matter). So many people tolerate it when a family member or a loved one is a perpetrator even though they would say an unrelated perpetrator should be castrated. Until we start talking about the molestor who is also a friend or family member, children will continue to be ignored when they ask for protection.

JupiterTaco
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Re: Societal progress on 'coming clean'......

Post by JupiterTaco »

I think part of the problem is that people don't want to think their relatives are capable of it, because then they would have a harder time demonizing other people who do it, and in some cases, it would make past victims have to admit to their trauma.
When we fall in love, we're just falling in love with ourselves, we're spiraling-Spiraling-Keane

Bridget
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Re: Societal progress on 'coming clean'......

Post by Bridget »

I agree, JT. I usually think about that the other way around. We demonize it because it is a societal taboo. But we don't want to think our loved ones are such horrible people, so we go into denial. Consequently, the children pay the price for the abuse, not just when they are young, but for the rest of their lives. In my case, the lack of response by the people who were supposed to protect me has created deeper and longer lasting pain than the actual abuse did.

One of the most outrageous effects about this two-faced response to sexual abuse is that researchers who want to study pedophilia can't get funding because charitable groups/organizations don't want to be linked to the subject. %-(

JohnDeux
Posts: 2006
Joined: Mon Feb 24, 2014 11:42 pm

Re: Societal progress on 'coming clean'......

Post by JohnDeux »

Bridget wrote:
Thu Nov 21, 2019 10:24 pm
In my case, the lack of response by the people who were supposed to protect me has created deeper and longer lasting pain than the actual abuse did.
Yeah.....that is really the tragic aspect here and kind of why I think the case that I posted was possibly significant. It's the *opposite* of trying to cloud the incident(s) in secrecy although each victim/survivor will have their own level of how much openness they wish to have with their story. [Just in case there is interest, I'm a big fan of Jennifer Freyd's work at the University of Oregon on 'betrayal trauma' ....conveying the notion that trauma/invalidation at the hands of those supposedly most trusted by us is far more damaging than the same kind of trauma/invalidation by those to whom we are not so invested.] To my knowledge, I was not sexually abused. But it has leaked out over time.....largely due to Jeff Anderson's work and those who would not be silenced....that students in our parish were indeed victims of sexual assault/molestation by some members of the clergy. It's the silence that weighs heavy and as you noted likely causes much, if not most, of the damage to the psyche in the wake of incidences or a full childhood of maltreatment. There is something so invalidating about having experienced something quite disturbing and not having those 'protectors' at least *try* to connect in some way over the incident.....i.e. make an effort towards the 'shareability' of the experience. In this regard, when I was doing some volunteer work with a child abuse prevention organization, I was at least hopeful with the development of non-judgmental and professional counsel that became increasingly available to local communities for those situations where guardians/caregivers felt to be, or appeared be, ill-equipped to deal with an abuse situation within the family.

As it relates to limerence, --and I could well be off the mark here--, the family I grew up in was very cynical and very invalidating to the *importance* of mature, intimate relationships. Not only were our parents and their friends relatively broken in this regard, but they seemed to toss it off as terrain that we would need to navigate for ourselves.....not really seeing or caring how things would go for us in our own relationships. Part of the cognitive dissonance in my LE appeared to be an enormous desire to consummate with LO that was clashing not only with my married state but also a deep sense of lacking all skills in intimate relationships ultimately leading, therefore, like a blooming flower casting pollen over an empty landscape, to an emotional/spiritual dead-end. That my marriage was similarly crippled by shame regarding open, intimate discussions...reflecting well my early home life....simple layered on more repression, probably driving the LE into its characteristic angst-ridden territory. Don't know....for sure limerence is a many-thorned rose.
"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain...."~ The Wizard of Oz

L-F
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Re: Societal progress on 'coming clean'......

Post by L-F »

What I want to know is, how much of it boils down to unconsciously driven acts vs conscious acts. Where do you draw the moral line on virtuous/deceptive conduct, unconscious/conscious behavior? I can understand children touching children due to transfering trauma, but adults?
Having said that, I'll post some ACEs vids which helps to explain why some adults might not be able to regulate emotions or have high emotional intelligence. I wonder if ACEs also diminish ethical and moral decision making?
Learn to forgive...Life is too short to live with hate.
"Everything is within your power, and your power is within you." Janice Trachtman

JohnDeux
Posts: 2006
Joined: Mon Feb 24, 2014 11:42 pm

Re: Societal progress on 'coming clean'......

Post by JohnDeux »

L-F wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 10:51 pm
.... I can understand children touching children due to transfering trauma, but adults?
Having said that, I'll post some ACEs vids which helps to explain why some adults might not be able to regulate emotions or have high emotional intelligence. I wonder if ACEs also diminish ethical and moral decision making?
I would wager the answer to the latter question is 'yes'. I think it's fair to say that some moral/ethical behavior may be ingrained, but a good dose of it is learned. If we an accept that certain psycho-emotional parts of a person may be rather poorly developed....or that certain triggered states can place a person in a child-like state....then I think it might be concluded that emotional regulation and possibly ethical/moral judgement can be impaired in those states. (Again, see Abby Stein's "Prologue to Violence..." for a good read on the dissociative states of violent killers.) I stress that this should not be a means to let perpetrators off he hook for committed crimes....this would simply expose the public again to possible victimization again. Rather the knowledge of what might be happening in such states should guide future research and policy-making as to how to best minimize or avoid the *making* of such individuals in the first place. Tall order and tough call.....but seems there is evidence for the 'regressive' state that one might enter during perpetration.
"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain...."~ The Wizard of Oz

L-F
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Re: Societal progress on 'coming clean'......

Post by L-F »

Weird, I thought I had replied to this... essentially what I said was that I agree with you. A lot more research is required.
Learn to forgive...Life is too short to live with hate.
"Everything is within your power, and your power is within you." Janice Trachtman

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