Helping victims heal
Cardinal Pell wanted to know how dredging up the past and seeing cases of abuse in the media was going to help victims. Let me help you out on this one Cardinal.
Matt & I were just talking over the weekend about how much I’ve changed over the last 3 years. He said something switched inside me while I was teaching acting classes. I had a fire lit under me and I was so angry. So very, very angry. All these emotions I had suppressed for so long came to the surface. I had so much rage inside over the past. I was so hurt at all I had been through. I was angry at what happened and I think even angrier at the continued cover up.
I was terrified of speaking up, but I knew I had to do it. Somebody had to do it. Anybody. If nobody else would, then it had to be me. Then I started to talk to Steven at Woman’s Day. It was like a crack in a dam. Once I started talking, I couldn’t shut up. It was out now, I couldn’t take it back. I just grabbed my cojones and ran with it.
Then, I was asked to shut up again. I think that made me angrier. Then, over the last couple of years, I’ve been through a plethora of emotions. I went from anger, to slowly learning patience. I started to let go of the hate inside me. I learnt more patience as the first year rolled on. Then I’d get frustrated. Then I’d mellow again for a bit. I wanted things to move faster. We could see things stalling and we’d do an interview and things would start rolling again. After a while, especially while the Sandusky case was going on, I could see that things just take a while, and I really had to just sit back and wait. Watching that gave me faith that there would be an end, eventually. It also gave me hope.
Meanwhile, I was still getting letters from other victims. Some had great news of their abusers being arrested. Others wrote letters of solidarity. Some just wrote to say thanks. I started to see I had made a difference, and I started to relax.
Meanwhile, people could see me changing. I was no longer carrying this dark secret. I was no longer ashamed to be “Sarah Monahan”. I found my inner strength. I decided I wasn’t going to sit around waiting for the case to be done. I decided to start living my life. I was going to start doing all the things I wanted to do in life, not just things others wanted me to do. I joined the Guard. Then I applied for the deployment.
I was in the office for 8 months and only a couple people knew I used to be an actress in Australia. Then came that night I got the phone call. I was so happy. I came into work, and people couldn’t understand why I suddenly looked so happy. They said they’d never seen me smile like that before. They’d never seen me so ecstatically happy. I felt like a new person.
You’ll never understand how weird it is to try to explain to some Americans you’ve been working with for almost a year that you’re a former child star, that you’re in the middle of an investigation, and you’ve just had a guy arrested….. Sometimes it’s easier to say, Just Google it. Or watch the ACA video.
Now, there’s been more & more in the media about child abuse. People are finally talking about it. Here’s the thing Cardinal Pell, I’m happy when I see it. I may cry when I read people’s stories. I may empathize with them. I hurt a little for people who have been through traumatic abuse. But at the same time I’m so incredibly grateful that people are being heard. With each victim telling their tale, I feel like another small weight is lifted off my shoulders. I feel like there is hope that one day we’ll live in a world where victims won’t feel shame. That emotion will belong to the abusers.
With each story in the media, I feel bolder. I feel more powerful. I feel like I’m getting my strength back. I’m taking myself back. That we’re all reclaiming that small innocent child that we were. That even though we were ignored or hushed back then, that we’re finally allowed to shout from the rooftops now.
Yes, seeing all the abuse may be painful, but it’s going to be a good hurt.
For you and your church however, it may not be so nice. If you really care about the victims, and truly want healing, don’t be condescending and treat us like we need to be kept in the dark. That just makes you sound like the predator. Accept that we need to speak our piece. We need to talk about it. We need to hear other people stories, so we know we’re not the only ones going through this.
It’s like group therapy on a much bigger scale.