This post was written and submitted by my cousin Janelle Stamm, and is her open and honest journey of faith. Like so many, our family was shattered by the betrayal of clergy sexual abuse, but the power of hope is stronger even than death. I was profoundly impacted by her story, and I think you will be too. Awareness of clergy abuse is at an all-time high, but we must be moved beyond apathy to action. I admire her vulnerability in admitting that at one time, she didn’t believe us. Reading those words stung, but more like the injection of a life-saving serum than the prick of the poisoned spindle on the spinning wheel. If we want to have real change, we have to have really hard conversations. ”
“I didn’t want to believe what I know …
I type the name into the address bar, and breathe in. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8…hold 2, 3, 4…
I’m beginning to recognize the physical signs of an impending panic attack, and have learned to use breathing techniques to ward them off. But it doesn’t always work.
Fuck. Forget triggered. Try annihilated. Strangled. Dropped from a 50-ft cliff. The month of October is already a PTSD-triggering mine field, but this just set them all off at once.
A dear friend alerted me to the article, but I already knew. I’d been informed of the pending investigation and his removal weeks ago, and I’ve been harboring it in my closet like a rabid gorilla, eager to escape. I’ve vaguebooked about it. I’ve talked to family …
“It can’t be true because he’s so well loved.”
“It can’t be true because he was around so many others and it didn’t happen to them.”
“It can’t be true because they waited so long to come forward.”
“It can’t be true because they’re conspiring to ruin him.”
I know. I get it. None of us WANT to believe someone we know, respect or admire could be a rapist. It shakes us and makes us question all those around us in positions of trust or authority. And yes, occasionally, unfortunately, rarely, false accusations are made which ruin someone’s life, and that’s not right either.
But when you begin to defend someone (and this time that someone in the news is Bill Cosby) based solely on the reasons given above, I can’t help but feel old angers rising …
Some of you won’t want to hear this. Some of you will. Some of you will be angry. Some of you will rejoice. I realize I run the risk of alienating some friends and family if I expose just where it is that this journey is taking me. And for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, start reading here.
I’ve known for awhile now, but haven’t told many. It’s just too hard, and yet, it’s really quite simple. I started out on this road thinking I would write this book and get this all off my chest and finally …
“He’s not really here, honey. It’s just his bones.” I spoke these words from my own mouth, but I wasn’t sure I believed them. Part of me desperately wanted to believe that his spirit somehow lingered in this place, where flesh becomes fodder for earth dwelling creatures. I parked on the gravel path right in front of his gravestone, as my preschooler pointed excitedly to the cross on the altar at the cemetery center.
“Look, mommy! That’s where Jesus died!” Our recent Easter lessons had paid off, and my young daughter was now intimately familiar with the story of Christ’s death and resurrection. “That’s right, sweetie. But remember, he’s not dead anymore, he’s alive.”
Sadly, I couldn’t say the same …
It’s a word I’ve been called over and over again because I chose to come out of the shadows and tell Eric’s story. My story. The dark one.
But I am not brave.
Brave would have been standing by my parents’ side when the held up protest signs outside of the Cathedral. But I didn’t.
Brave would have been attending all of the trials, hearings and facing his perpetrator. Looking him in the eye. But I didn’t.
Brave would have been telling this story years ago, not more than 12 years after the fact. But I didn’t.
Brave would have been shaking the Bishop’s hand, holding it tightly, and giving him a piece of my mind for orchestrating the cover up. But I didn’t.
I am not brave. I am like …