Suffer the more

For the past few months not a week has gone by that locally here in Juneau County there's a story that ties our community to the horror of child sexual assault. I don't know about you, but for me, I will never become numb to the the outcries of pain in each one of these stories.

This week the story was about a Catholic priest from La Crosse, Wisconsin - his Juneau County ties were that he has served in parishes within our county...short stints...but he's crossed paths with Juneau County children. It's not  known if there's been any actual criminal contact with our children, but still he's been here.

Rev. Patrick Umberger was charged with possession of child pornography - During interviews with investigators he supposedly admitted to being sexually attracted to young boys and males. In doing some research I ran across and article where a member from a group called The Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests. The group is frustrated with the Diocese of La Crosse.

Below is an excerpt from an article from the Wisconsin Radio Network's web site:

"SNAP has been critical of the way in which the diocese handled cases of abusive priests during the tenure of Archbishop Jerome Listecki, who’s since been named Archbishop of the Milwaukee Archdiocese. “The Diocese of La Crosse has more cases of priests that have been reported to them for things like this, that are still apparently in ministry or working in the church than any diocese in the United States,” claims Isely. “They clear priests up there for reports of things like at a rate that’s six times higher than any other diocese, and no one’s reviewed any of this. Isely says he has no idea whether the diocese was aware of any allegations against Umberger. “That’s really part of the core of the problem here.”

When will we wake up? When will those in power stop covering up? How many more children? How many lives yet to be shattered because we, as a society,  still turn our heads to this shame? So many futures altered because we don't want to admit that man is flawed and sometimes those flaws commit crimes against children.  Sometimes we know the people committing those crimes...their shame is not ours...we need to stop hiding it, deal with it, and expose it every chance we get whether it's a priest...a neighbor...a friend...or a family member. We also need to expose those in power to bring about justice. when they don't do just that, whether it's our Church, our police, our schools,  our prosecutors...or our legislators . It's the only way change can happen.

No more cover ups....No more Patrick Gages' allowed to leave a country so they can go and supposedly rape more girls when they've been already accused of child sexual assault, and no more priests like Patrick Umberger..enough is enough.

Sometimes I wonder if my sensitivity to this topic is because I was once that child who had their world shattered by the touch of twisted evil. Immediately when I hear of one my mind's eye see the child cowering in a corner with their fears around them.  The shame they have placed upon themselves hiding the light that once shined in their eyes. Innocence ripped away from them.

As much as I have lived through,  and there's far more than anyone will ever know, nothing comes close to the nightmare of being a child who has been sexually assaulted. As many former victims know, there really are no words that can describe the ache felt by a child of sexual assault. A tornado of confusion surrounds them. Childhood is no longer a memory they want to recapture, it's a loss that is grieved for as long as they live.

Healing does come, but unlike when you scrape a knee, the healing path you walk becomes part of you, who you are in this world, and how you view life and all the complexities involved. Things are not as cut and dry, you understand the fog of the gray's a place you know well. You understand how someone who can be so loving and kind can turn your world into a nightmare, but at the same time still be kind and loving.

I am sure for those who have never had such a first-hand experience, that lesson in life, that they cannot comprehend it's easier to close a book written in language you don't understand rather than attempting to read it.

Listen to those who can tell you how it is...listen to the words of the former victims, the children who once suffered that lesson, and pay attention. We're not asking you to become one of us, just accept what we know and respect where we have been.

When I started this blog I did so because I was tired of the rumors and whispers floating around in my community. The people who thought they could tell my story of what happened the day my ex-husband..then estranged...physically, emotionally, and sexually assaulted me in front of my children for over an hour. But they didn't know what happened...they didn't know my story...they didn't know his...

 Those rumors...those whispers when I walked by them with my children while at a school event in the Catholic school hall or a community event....did damage...damage that was done touched my children more than anyone else. That was my initial reasoning in starting this blog, but since I have realized it's more than much more. I've discovered that the story in me...the one that has shaped my life is from an expert from the field....and maybe...just maybe...Everything has happened for a reason on my own personal path towards healing. If somehow one child is saved from the horror of child sexual assault from anything I write, or if a former victim finds comfort...then none of this has been in vain...

So......listen to the former victims....respect them....accept them as the experts they are...and please no more hiding  - the children deserve better.


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