Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Validation and Campaign

"[My mother] had been so glad that this young chap was caring for me and looking after me and reading me stories. She had felt that I wasn't alone and he was there looking after me."
"I didn't tell my mother until she was in her 80s -- in 1996-1997 -- and she was so upset because she felt she had let me down and she was so hurt and so angry. She was devastated and devastated that she didn't notice anything at the time."
"I came out convinced that what had happened was my fault, that there was something about me that caused it to happen."
"I felt like a very bad person. I completely withdrew in myself. I went back to school and saw some girls laughing in a corner and I thought they were talking about me."
"I was just surviving from day to day, not feeling very good about myself. I never connected it to what happened in my childhood. I felt I was letting down my husband, my son. There were periods when I thought they'd be better off without me. I felt I was making their life miserable."
Marie Collins 66, Dublin, Ireland
Marie Collins
Marie Collins     Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

When Marie Collins was thirteen she was admitted to hospital with a bone infection in her arm. That was in 1960. At that time parents were not permitted to accompany their children in hospital, to comfort them, to comfort themselves, being close to a child undergoing medical treatment. A hospital chaplain offered to take young Marie Collins under his wing. This was Paul McGinnis, just one year out of seminary college. And a pedophile.

Throughout his saintly career he sexually abused and assaulted young girls in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Marie Collins was but one of many, a frightened young girl never before away from her home, from her mother, from all that was familiar and comforting. And there she was, in hospital awaiting treatment, alone in a tiny cubicle, sexually assaulted by a priest. Who not only abused her but took photographs he could later relish, or share among others with similar grotesque morals.

Marie Collins had her medical treatment, returned home confused and fearful and ashamed, convinced she had done something dreadfully wrong to have brought that assault upon herself, but telling no one, because what had happened to her was so bizarre, so painful, so lacking in comprehension for her, she was convinced no one would believe her and she would be ridiculed and isolated. In fact, she was already isolated in her mind, and ridiculed there as well, for being responsible for the degrading, dreadful things that had happened to her.

She lived a life of fearful confusion resulting in hospital stays where doctors prescribed medicine to treat her symptoms without understanding their cause, for she said nothing about the cause. She suffered agoraphobia, never wanting to leave her house, and her life became, she said, a joyless and dark existence. Finally, nearly 40 years later, when the priest who had abused her was jailed in 1997 she received sex-abuse victim counselling and her life changed.

She was transformed into a tireless campaigner for the rights of victims of abuse, challenging the "lies and hypocrisy" that met her within the Catholic Church. In the doing of which she helped bring into being a state commission in Ireland that went about investigating sexual abuse by the Dublin Catholic Church. Before then, she had spoken in 1985 to a psychoanalyst about what she had suffered. And he advised her to report her experience directly to the church. She did that. Her own priest's reaction put her back into another ten years of isolation mode.

"He wouldn't take the name of the abuser, he thought it wasn't necessary because it was probably my fault and I could go away, I was now forgiven and I could forget about it. That absolutely destroyed me. I didn't go back and talk to my doctor, in fact, I spoke to no one then for another ten years." But then, in 1995, the headlines were rife with the issue of pedophilic priests, and Marie Collins resolved to act. "This man could still be out there and I needed to do something about it", she said. And he was indeed still out there, in a parish. Arrested finally, he was jailed in 1997.

"I never lost my belief in God, I have always retained that. As far as practising my religion, I have gone through stages where I couldn't walk into a church. The way I have dealt with it in recent times, I look on the institution, the structures, the people, as one thing and the actual belief and faith as quite separate." Marie Collins has been named to Pope Francis' commission on setting sex-abuse policy; one of eight others who will confer and craft the scope of the policy and advise the church on how best to protect children going forward to the future.

"I am going in with my eyes open. I long ago stopped trusting. But if there is sincerity there, and I hope there is, then I will go in and fight for what is needed to protect children in the future. If it turns out to be sham then I personally will have done my best and it is the church who will have to answer for it. I am certainly not going to be intimidated. They all have titles, cardinals and ex-prime ministers and things, but it's far too important to be intimidated by anything like that."

"I simply felt that if they were allowed to get away with the practices they were obviously carrying on at the time -- which was covering up for abusers -- then more children would be hurt in the future. You simply can't let that happen. You have to speak."

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

()() Follow @rheytah Tweet