In recent days there has been an outpouring of emotion in regards to a Pennsylvania grand jury report of child sexual abuse by priests, clergy and other members of the Catholic Church including the members of Parishes in Erie, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Greensburg and the greater Pittsburgh area. While this has shaken many people, it has been especially difficult for students and parents involved in the Catholic School system, as parents try to figure out how to talk to their children and teens about this, question themselves about their choices for their children, and in some cases have also begun to question their faith. There is an enormous amount of grief in finding out that something or someone you trusted has betrayed you in an unspeakable manner, and there is no easy or universal way to deal with this realization. Grief is a lengthy and difficult process, and each person struggling with these allegation and reports will deal with it in their own way.
The abuse of power seen in these reports is staggering, infuriating, and vile. The victims of this type of criminal and horrendous act often suffer lifelong effects including, but certainly not limited to:
· Relationship difficulties and/or lack of trust
· Difficulty with intimacy
· Poor boundaries with others
· Sleep disturbances (insomnia, nightmares, night terrors, sleeping too much)
· Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, powerlessness, and shame
· Anxiety, panic attacks, and hypervigilence
· Suicidal thoughts and attempts
· Self-destructive or self-abusive behavior
· Eating disorders and/or body image issues
· Addictions and compulsions (alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, pornography)
· Flashbacks and body memories
Sexual abuse is a complex trauma and should be treated as such. Each of the links and phone numbers below are resources for victims of sexual trauma. If you would like an individual therapist referral, please contact me by phone or email and I can recommend trusted Trauma Therapists in the Pittsburgh area.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of abuse, please seek help. You do not have to deal with this on your own and you are not alone.
Pennsylvania ChildLine can be contacted for any suspected abuse at 800-932-0313
Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR)
24-hour hotline 1-866-END-RAPE
81 S. 19th St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15203