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I first met Jeannie years ago at a SNAP conference.  I continue to appreciate her wisdom, honesty, transformation and joy.

JR: Thank you for participating in this interview. I experience you as a nurturer or guide in various kinds of survivor healing efforts: the Farm, SNAP, and individual support. How would you describe your kind of advocacy?

 JW: Back in the early 90’s, Jaime, when everything ‘hit the fan’ for me, I was overwhelmed with memories of the abuse. They didn’t seem ‘real’ – I felt totally out of control of my life and yes, crazy, for lack of a better word. I started hearing about other people with similar experiences. I started reaching out – I jumped into the advocacy movement of exposing the crimes of the church without much focus on my personal journey towards healing. I researched priest’s assignments through the church directories for people all over the country; I worked with a reporter to expose the issues locally; supported other survivors… It took quite awhile and painful insight to realize that in my personal journey, I was using all the activity to keep one step ahead of my-self and outrun, so to speak, the work I had to do to reclaim my life and really heal my soul.

For me, now, advocacy has a much different meaning in my life journey. It’s much more ‘quiet’. I’m learning that responding, versus reacting to situations opens up opportunities to share my story and hopefully that offers support in a way that encourages people to ask more questions. Being observant and respectful of people’s ability to take in the scope of the traumatic effects of any kind of abuse is a tough challenge, when it can trigger my old pattern of outrage and the adrenaline rush of needing to challenge and change institutions and systems that enable abuse. I believe that becoming the person I was meant to be in this life – healthy physically, mentally, emotionally and especially spiritually – is an extremely powerful force that can instill hope and affect change. Encouraging other survivors to truly become them-selves is where the heart of my advocacy focus is now.

JR: You’re someone I see as deeply spiritual. What was your religious affiliation or identity growing up?

JW: I was raised Catholic; grade school education through a couple of years of college. However, I don’t equate spiritual with religious affiliation/identity anymore.

JR: We’ve talked about how, as unspeakable clergy or religious authority sexual abuse is, ritual abuse is even more difficult and upsetting for most people to even think about. What are your concerns and hopes about even discussing this topic?

JW: I have to say that even now, after so many years, my heart seems to skip a beat and I’m forgetting to breathe with this question. I wish I could say that it’s become a topic people are more willing to learn or talk about – at least think about – but in my personal experience, that’s not the case. This kind of abuse is very underground – a closed system usually involving groups of abusers. This elevates the danger involved in exposing this kind of abuse tremendously, which never should be taken lightly. And then there’s the credibility factor: exposing an individual priest as an abuser – doable; exposing ritual abuse groups within the church….?

The nature of the abuse itself – the grooming process, the ‘brainwashing’, the trauma itself, the isolation and the real, possible danger for the survivors are all things I’ve thought about through the years as I’ve processed my memories. In years past, I’ve asked questions of people much more in the know than I and I’ve always run up against doors that quickly close, but there are indications that there’s info known. Maybe someday. My concerns and hope go out to those who have experienced this kind of abuse; they are definitely not alone with their memories.

JR: Given that, can you say a little about your abuse experience?

JW: I experienced group ritual abuse involving priests and lay people. I was very young when it started and the ‘grooming’ process and abuse was extensive and traumatic. As I’ve mentioned before, my memories flooded out during a short period of time back in the early 90’s. It was years before I let myself talk about my memories outside of therapy or read about ritual abuse because I was terrified that I’d ‘imprint’ false memories into my brain. After a couple of years, through internet support groups like SNAP, I came into contact with other ritual abuse survivors. Time and time again upon hearing their experiences and me sharing mine, there were ‘rituals’ that were the same – people from all over the country. One gentleman even had known one of the priests involved in my abuse and talked about the priest’s abusive behavior towards him.

At a VOTF conference a man who was from a town where some of my abuse took place and was very familiar with a particular church building, knew exactly the room I described where I was taken to after a ceremony – down to a very unique door; I spoke with 2 women who suffered similar abuse in a parish very close to the parish I grew up in. Someday I hope that ritual abuse will be exposed – my experience certainly is not an isolated case.

JR: What have been some of your challenges in recovery/ healing?

JW: Certainly the credibility factor was a big issue for me at first. At first I kept my ‘flooded’ memories kind of off to the side. As I put pieces together, my life ‘story’ started to have a continuum that I never experienced before. I began to realize that I had always remembered so much more than I thought. A therapist I worked with would tell me over and over again that I had all the ‘answers’ inside of me…yeah, right! It’s turned out to be so true.

Another huge challenge in the beginning was the extreme changes that happened in my everyday life. I was a small business owner at the time who couldn’t run the business anymore in a town where I was pretty visible. Many catholic friends and many family members wrote me off – no questions about what happened – only condemnation. Everything in my life shifted. Nothing on my list of challenges is unique, for sure. Today, there are still challenges that pop up, but I’ve learned how to identify them, track them down, and deal with them in a healthy way. Not always easy, but certainly makes for a happier life!

JR: I think you have some valuable insights about re-programming (physically, mentally, emotionally) as part of healing from religious authority sexual abuse. Can you share some of what you’ve learned?

JW: Programming, Jaime, is SUCH a good word to use in describing the healing process! Physically…. I never knew that people “in the normal range” (I like to use that phrase versus just “normal”) felt their whole body at the same time! I grew up very disconnected from my body. I had to deal with many body memories throughout my recovery process. CraniolSacral massage therapy was extremely difficult but tremendously beneficial. (Very important to work with a therapist thoroughly trained to work with trauma victims!) I had to literally re-train my body to feel connected and remember touch and energy flow.

Mentally….. The first thing that comes to mind was my discovery that I had to go back and re-define words! What does “being safe” really mean? – much more than that I won’t be hurt today.

What does “friendship” really mean? – much deeper than someone just paying attention to me at the moment. etc. As a child being traumatized, I latched onto meanings that helped me survive. As an adult I had to re-define so many words through healthier eyes and experiences. Throughout my whole life, I’ve experienced situations where I can’t remember things no matter how hard I try. I’ve done a lot of reading about how trauma, especially early age trauma, affects the development of memory and that’s helped a lot in my understanding this difficulty. As a child it was far safer not to remember.

I’ve re-programmed my-self now to try and intercept the “you’re so stupid” etc. self-talk when my memory blanks out and slowly the “garage doors” – as I call them – don’t slam closed as often. Through CraniolSacral massage I’ve learned how to open them when they do. Present day stress at times still plays havoc on my memory and it’s a signal I have to pay attention to what’s going on.

Emotionally…. Again, from that very wise therapist who traveled with me on my healing journey… ‘my thoughts and emotions don’t define who I am – it’s what I do with them that matters’. It took me a long time to understand and realize that I did have control over what I did with my thoughts and emotions. I can go ballistic over something OR I could choose to simply look at it and respond in the best, healthiest, kindest, etc. way I could figure out. I’ll never forget a ‘homework’ assignment my therapist gave me during a time suicide seemed like a possible option to take away the emotional pain. I was to write down all the intrusive, depressive thoughts in one column – opposite I was to write down a minimum of 3 counter-active thoughts for each one. Example: I just want to go to sleep and never wake up. Choice: I could make a cup of tea and cuddle on my sofa with a blanket; go out into my garden; take a nap but set the alarm for 30 minutes. After the list was made I was to CHOOSE just one and act on it. A life changing exercise for me! I discovered I was scared to death of going outside the box of emotions and thoughts that were familiar and predictable – being happy was outside the box! In fact, I didn’t even know what being happy meant (another word I had to re-define for my-self). It took so much practice but now I know I can choose to live my life with a serene outlook even in the toughest circumstances. When it doesn’t happen easily, I can choose to do an attitude adjustment – my choice!

JR: Would you talk about your spiritual journey? What has been helpful? What have you gained?

JW: This is where my life now feels most fulfilled – in my spiritual journey. I feel I’ve finally made a connection to this world and universe. The most helpful breakthrough? Probably the recognition that the religious training (I prefer the word brainwashing) I took in throughout my school years had no critical thinking component – just the ‘believe us;’the church demands adherence. For me, breaking free of the tentacles of guilt, shame, fear, etc of leaving the church has been a long, hard fought journey. Watching survivors and supporters stand up to the church and expose the abuse and hypocrisy -so incredibly courageous – was an encouragement for me to grapple with the tough questions I needed to ask about the church myself. In the practice of just being quiet within my-self, I’ve come to know the God within me. I was created in God’s image – that I still fully believe and I have a purpose in this life. Learning to be in the present moment, I’ve become aware of how we’re all inter-connected in this universe.

JR: We’ve talked in the past about the addictive aspects of advocacy work or what happens for some survivors who take up public actions to expose abuse. What do you mean by that?

JW: I shared at the beginning of this interview about how I discovered I was using advocacy as a way to “out run” my dealing with the trauma of my childhood. My body learned very early in life how to kick in that adrenaline “rush” to help me survive the abuse and stay vigilant. The ‘rush’ became what I defined as feeling like I was alive. When I attended press conferences, support meetings, just getting together with survivors in my early days of advocacy, I began to notice that a collective agitation, anger often times surfaced and we ran with it…a feeling of being alive…but with an addictive quality to it.

Over the years, it saddens me to see some survivors stuck in that whirlwind… stuck in the beginning stages of healing with such raw emotions, anger, tears, clinging to the whirlwind because it is familiar and familiar often times “feels” safe. Advocacy can be empowering but it’s not a substitution for one-on-one therapy. What if we began to place the healing of survivors on the same priority level as advocacy? I think the time has come for us to take care of our own.

JR: What has worked for you to be less in a ‘Fight-Flight’ or ‘reactive’ mode, and more in an spiritually integrative mode in your day to day life?

JW: This is an easy question…….remembering to BREATHE!!  Does all kinds of good things. It gives me a pause to reflect and CHOOSE a response instead of a knee-jerk re-action; my whole-self gets a chance to participate in my-life moment; often times, with a moment of reflection, it becomes clear that whatever was rearing up to knock me off balance, really wasn’t all that important.                                     

JR: What is your sacred space now or what is sacred to you now?

JW: I think the sacred spiritual space for me now is when I feel connected to the universe; when I sense my purpose in life, guided by the creator of this world; when my inside matches my outside. What’s sacred to me now? Everything! My children, friends, my garden, waking up in the morning 🙂 I’ve learned to celebrate even the smallest pleasures. Someday, I’m going to be successful in encouraging survivors and supporters to gather together JUST to celebrate. Everyone’s invited!

JR: I know there is so much more to talk about and learn together. Thank you for your time and sharing. I hope to continue our conversation another time. Thank you!

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David Clohessy is the National Director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP). I appreciate his courage and dedication to change laws, reach out to survivors and supporters, and be the face of a movement to end child sexual abuse, particularly religious authority sexual abuse.

JR: You’ve been at this work of speaking up for victims of clergy sexual abuse for many years.  What has changed for the better in this societal problem?

DC: Not nearly enough. To a small degree, I suspect kids are more apt to tell, parents are more apt to believe them, families are more apt to call police, police are more apt to investigate, prosecutors are more apt to file charges, juries are more apt to convict predators, and Catholics are more apt to believe independent sources (rather than just blindly accept whatever the bishop claims). But this is anecdotal and far from widespread.  In the overwhelming majority of cases, it still takes years – even decades – before victims can realize they’ve been hurt, the harm is severe, the effects are on-going, they can get better, they have legal options, their perpetrator is likely molesting others, and that they have the strength and a duty to act.

JR: What seems to be a new challenge as you continue to work to prevent and end religious authority sexual abuse?

DC: In the media and politics, one problem is called “issue fatigue,” which, simply put, means people getting tired of hearing about all this horror. But an even bigger challenge we face, I think, is what I call the “surely” problem. The conventional thinking goes: “Surely, after all these terrible media stories and expensive lawsuits, the church hierarchy has now reformed.” There’s plenty of basis for this assumption, because in virtually every other aspect of society (business, government, non-profit), a continuing crisis of this magnitude certainly would have brought reform.

But here’s the rub: the church is radically different than every other aspect of our society. It’s the world’s only global monarchy. In the United States, other secular – or even religious – institutions must respond to crisis or die. But not the Catholic Church. Only 5-6 bishops have ever been forced out of office because of the crisis. (And four of them stepped aside within the last few weeks in Ireland.) Otherwise, there’s not a bishop in the world who drives a smaller car, takes fewer vacations, does his own laundry, or has experienced any real consequences for covering up child sex crimes.

So the bottom line is this: those in decision-making capacities in the church hierarchy have no incentive to reform. In fact, they often see colleagues who have ignored or hidden child molestation getting promoted. And they see the extremely rare, courageous whistleblower (like Tom Doyle) getting ostracized. So the lesson priests and bishops learn is sad but clear: Do what we’ve always done, and you’re (at worse) safe or (at best) rewarded.

So not only have church officials not reformed, but they will probably never reform. Our challenge, then, is to help people understand that the alleged “reforms” adopted in 2002 in the US are largely unenforced and unenforceable window dressing, nothing more.

Finally, another challenge is to help non-Catholic spiritual figures avoid complacency and help allegedly non-hierarchical denominations (like the Baptists) realize they can and must do more to protect kids.

JR: What has been the impact on you over the years as a result of your advocacy?

DC: I’m a healthier, happier, and I think a more compassionate person. Whenever someone thanks me, I almost always respond “You’re welcome, but you should know that this helps me as much or more than it helps you.” My involvement in SNAP has been a life-saver for me and led me to a much more fulfilling, peaceful life.

I’ve become more pessimistic than ever about institutions reforming themselves, especially ancient, rigid, secretive, powerful all-male monarchies. At the same time though, I’ve become more optimistic about the willingness and ability of abuse victims to speak up, take action, heal themselves and protect others.

JR: At several events, I have seen you wear a photo of yourself at the time of your abuse around your neck. I know that many survivors do that and some prefer not to do that.  What is the value for you or for these conversations in wearing that photo?

DC: Here’s a secret. My real reason for carrying the photo is to show people that although I’m ugly now (you said it, brother), I once was cute! OK, all kidding aside, I think it’s crucial that people remember and clearly see that although some of us may present ourselves as somewhat competent adults now, when we were assaulted, we were innocent, vulnerable, confused, helpless kids. And it’s crucial that people understand that we’re not just fighting for healing and justice for ourselves, but for safer and healthier lives for children.

JR: SNAP began with a focus on Catholic priests or leaders because you, Barbara Blaine and others were abused by priests.  Is the reality that religious authority sexual abuse is pervasive in all religious groups? What have been some of your experiences and lessons learned in working with others from other faith traditions?

DC: Just to be clear, Barbara started SNAP, almost single-handedly. I’m grateful I’ve been with the group for 20+ years, but she deserves all the credit for launching this outstanding organization.

Both abuse and cover up are found in every religious group. A huge reason for that is structural. In public entities, there are at least a) some rules around disclosure and b) some “checks and balances.” With a school district, for instance, one can file “Freedom of Information Act” requests that militate against unhealthy secrecy. And one can defeat corrupt school board members in elections. But many denominations lack these simple, healthy, common sense safeguards.

Working with activists in other faiths has been tremendously rewarding and enlightening for me, whether it’s Rev. Marie Fortune or Christa Brown (StopBaptistPredators.org) or Julie Hokinson (SNAPPresbyterian). Christa has been particularly heroic and helps me remember that in many respects, those abused by Baptists face an even tougher road than those of who have been molested by Catholics.

Finally, some non-Catholic religious leaders, when confronted about recklessness, deceit or callousness in child sex cases, eventually defend themselves by claiming “Well, at least we’re not as terrible as the bishops.” That’s ridiculous, of course. The standard for spiritual figures must at least be “What would any decent person do in this situation,” not “Let’s look at what Catholic bishops do and do just a tad more or better.”

JR: What do you think have been some of the most significant developments in preventing and ending religious authority sexual abuse in the U.S. in the past 10 years?

DC: Tough question! Certainly SNAP’s growth and maturation has been significant because thousands have been empowered to start healing, expose pedophiles, change laws, educate others, and safeguard kids. The painstaking work of investigative journalists, starting with the Boston newspapers of course, has been very significant, because it has finally helped millions shed their illusions about church hierarchies. The belated and largely still timid response of police and prosecutors has been significant, because in a very real sense, it has taken some predator priests away from kids and put them in jail. The involvement of more lay people in exposing cover-ups and protecting kids is significant, especially through groups like Voice of the Faithful, Call To Action and others, because it shows lay people that they aren’t powerless.

It should be noted that much took place in the 1980s and 1990s that was significant and deserves honor. Few of us ever acknowledge the pioneering reporting done long before 2002 by journalists like Jason Berry, Gerry Renner, Tom Fox, Marie Rohde and Tom Roberts and others. Their ground-breaking work has enabled millions to better understand, and further expose, the hierarchy’s complicity.

Likewise, few of us even know about, much less appreciate, the many brave survivors who “went public” before 2002, notably Ryan DiMaria, the Gauthe victims, the Porter victims, the Kos victims, and others. They were, and are, significant because they paved the way for so many of us who came later, and helped make citizens and Catholics start looking beyond Boston and start realizing this is a truly global crisis.

JR: Can you comment on progress at the international level?

DC: It’s extraordinarily and painstakingly slow and requires even more courage and persistence than we in the US have shown and are showing. In most countries, religious figures enjoy a much more exalted status than here in the US. So abuse and cover-up are much more likely. And many nations have less aggressive journalism, a less independent judiciary, less well-funded law enforcement and fewer legal options for victims. That makes combating abuse, exposing predators, protecting kids and personal recovery much, much more difficult.

In the US, for decades, we somehow looked at each case that did publicly surface as an aberration. “Gosh, look, there’s a bad priest in Peoria. A couple of weeks ago, there was one in Idaho,” we’d think. Finally, in the early 1990s, we started to realize “Hey, there are a lot of these guys. And their bosses, the bishops, don’t seem to care or do much.” (Then, the Fr. James Porter case made national headlines, bishops pledged reform, and sadly, we slipped back into the naïve, comfortable but reckless assumption that things were pretty much getting better.)

Finally, in 2002, many understood that this is a systemic, on-going crisis or scandal that’s truly widespread.

I bring this up because we’re making the same mistake now on a global level. “Boy, did you hear about the problems they’re having with clergy sex abuse and cover up in Ireland?” one person might say. And the other person responds “Wasn’t there some of that in Austria or Italy a while back too?”

But we just have to “bite the bullet” and accept this sad, simple fact – abuse and cover up are in every diocese in every corner of the world, and more extensive than we’ll ever come close to knowing. Not were, but are. In any organization that excessively values loyalty and promotes clericalism and hoards power and lacks oversight, predators will hurt kids and supervisors will respond callously. We’ve got to stop asking ourselves “Gee, I wonder why the church hierarchy in this country or that country is so corrupt” and accept the fact that it’s corrupt across the board. That realization is the first real step toward progress.

JR: I’m particularly interested in how you describe your spiritual life at this point.  Can you say a little about what your spiritual life means to you now?

DC: I have no spiritual life and haven’t for years. I’m an agnostic, some days regrettably so, other days less so. To put it bluntly, I have no idea what, if anything, happens after death or what a ‘creator’ may want of us. But it’s crystal clear to me that right here and now, people are in pain and need consolation and kids are at risk and need protection.

The Anniversary of My Death,” a poem by W.S Merwin, probably best sums up my spiritual leanings or belief.

JR: Was there a significant time or event or decision that helped you to shift from being a survivor to what I call a thriver, a co-creator of her life, environment and by extension, the world?

DC: You flatter me. But in a nutshell, I attribute whatever growth or shift I’ve experienced to my incredible wife, tons of therapy, joining SNAP and filing litigation. It feels like every forward step I’ve ever taken has been because some loving person was behind me nudging me and another loving person was ahead of me and guiding me.

Filing my lawsuit helped show me that I’m not a powerless kid any more. Talking about the abuse helped me feel less dirty. (I talk about it openly now, because I’ve found that the less I act ashamed, the less I feel ashamed.) My first support group meeting was a huge breakthrough, because I finally couldn’t deny the simple fact that if the folks in this room weren’t to blame for their victimization, I’m not to blame for mine.

And hearing from Janet and Horace Patterson was a turning point for me. At that juncture, I really was ready to give up. But hearing and feeling their pain (and later, seeing their courage) really enabled me to commit to this struggle for the long haul.

JR: What do you imagine could be the best thing that could happen related to preventing and ending Child Sexual Abuse (CSA)? That’s a broad question, so how about for survivors to do and for non-abused people in society to do.

DC: Let’s start with the easy, common sense steps. We can all stop rewarding criminal and near-criminal behavior.

Let’s rescind honors to predators and enablers. In St. Louis, we have a public park named after a priest ousted because he sexually harassed underlings. In Toledo, there’s a street named after a monsignor who blocked a murder probe. In Wyoming, a wing of a children’s home is named after a bishop against whom five child sex abuse lawsuits have been settled. This callousness deters victims, witnesses, whistleblowers – young and old – from speaking up, exposing predators and protecting kids. (“Why bother saying anything. No one will believe me or do anything.”) And it rubs more salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of suffering victims and betrayed church-goers.

Let’s also stop promoting the corrupt. In Rome, the ‘poster child’ for self-serving, arrogant and deceitful bishops – Cardinal Law – enjoys a position of vast power and prestige. An auxiliary bishop harshly criticized in the Philadelphia grand jury report, Joseph Cistone, was recently promoted to run his own diocese. A complicit Louisville auxiliary bishop has just been elevated to run the Owensboro diocese.

If the callous or corrupt are promoted and praised, they will be emulated.

Next, let’s put our money where our mouths are and stop supporting corruption. We have so little power, it seems to me. So why give money to institutions that endanger kids when you can give to ones that protect kids? Why squander what little you have? Why, if you’re upset at what’s happening, do you keep supporting what’s happening with your money?

Next, let’s get brutal with those who suspect or see or know of child sex crimes but stay silent. That’s how to show we’re serious about kids’ safety and how we deter callousness and complicity.

I’m morally opposed to the death penalty. But even if we executed child molesters, we’d still have child molesters. The threat of execution, I believe, doesn’t and won’t ever deter compulsive, driven predators.

On the other hand, though, the threat of a mandatory five years behind bars (or similar penalties) may well make a timid teacher call the child abuse hotline about a colleague. To me, this is just common sense.

(These ‘mandated reporter’ laws are commonplace but rarely enforced and carry very lenient sentences.)

Finally, and perhaps most important, let’s reform or eliminate the archaic, arbitrary, predator-friendly statues of limitations that give criminals and their accomplices incentives to intimidate victims, threaten witnesses, destroy evidence, fabricate alibis, hide wrongdoing and ‘run out the clock,’ then keep hurting others. Keep in mind the root cause of the crisis – the virtually limitless power of bishops and the structural inability of institutions to reform themselves. Given these two facts, it’s crucial that we increase the role of the time-tested, open, impartial justice system – both criminal and civil – to catch wrongdoers more quickly and to deter wrongdoing more effectively.

On our website there’s a very specific list of about 20 others ways people can help:  http://www.snapnetwork.org/links_homepage/wanna_make_difference.htm

JR: What or who inspires you as you continue to work to end CSA?

DC: Since “day one,” I literally felt thrilled every time a survivor gave a media interview, pursued criminal charges, filed a civil lawsuit, starting going to therapy, or disclosed to his or her family. Honestly, that thrill has barely diminished over the years. I still often get Goosebumps when a survivor tells me “I bought The Courage to Heal today,” or “I called and made an appointment with the sex crimes detective” or “I told my husband last night.”

Specifically, Christa Brown inspires me. I just can’t imagine a more recalcitrant church hierarchy than the Southern Baptists. I’ve seen Baptist officials be stunningly cruel to her – in person and in print. Yet she soldiers on, with class and compassion, against phenomenal odds and relentless opposition. Somehow, there’s virtually no bitterness in her, which astounds me. (If you aren’t familiar with her blog, you should check it out: StopBaptistPredators.org)

Barbara Blaine inspires me. No matter how tired or busy or dispirited we are, her ‘default’ setting is permanently on “Let’s do it!” And so often, we push beyond what we ever thought we could do, and the results are terrific. There’s a reason SNAP exists. And there’s a reason we’ve been around 21 years. It’s her indomitable spirit and drive and energy, plain and simple.

Barbara Dorris inspires me. She works incredibly hard while being calm, caring, and competent. Without a doubt, she has the best sense of humor in our movement (though Peter Isely right up there too).

Judy Jones, Dan Frondorf, Joelle Casteix, Bob Schwiderski, Joey Piscatelli, Mary Grant, David Brown, Ann Webb, Peter Pollard, Beth McCabe all step up to the plate often (despite jobs and families and other obligations), seeing and seizing opportunities to reach out and help to survivors. . .I could go on and on and on. . .

The younger survivors who’ve come forward in their teens and 20s amaze and inspire me – Megan, Sean, Brandon and others. My younger brother Patrick, who has overcome so much pain in his life, inspires me.

And I’m inspired by, and extraordinarily grateful to, lay Catholics who could easily have turned away from our struggle but instead embrace it: Anne Barrett Doyle, Terry McKiernan, Carolyn Disco, Kris Ward, Paul Kendrick, Frank Douglas, John Shuster and so many others.

I’m also inspired by social movements like the struggle for civil rights in the US. I’m grateful that our efforts, while often met with hostility; don’t provoke beatings, lynchings and jail. I’m in awe of the fearlessness and sacrifice and determination and grace of those who fought and fight for all oppressed people all across the US and the world.

About every three months, I re-read Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” which might be the most inspiring piece of writing I’ve ever found.

Poetry inspires me. Gwendolyn Brooks’ “The Hunchback Girl,” Langston Hughes’ “Mother to Son,” ee cummings “Conscientious Objector” all speak very powerfully to me and energize me.  I read them over and over, and have these and other poems taped to my medicine cabinet and my laptop.

Finally, I have to mention several quotes which I use in speeches often. Martin Luther King said “No lie lives forever.” Gandhi said “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Eugene Debs said “While there is a lower class I am in it; while there is a criminal element I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” And Calvin Coolidge said “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

JR: Thank you for your time, honesty and dedication to promote healing and end child sexual abuse everywhere.

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