“One touch. Just one. Changing a child’s life in a second. What power! Perhaps that is what sexual abuse of children is about—power. I don’t remember the first time Fr. D touched me, but I cannot forget the last. He touched me once, and I didn’t tell, so then I was his to touch whenever he chose. He had the power and could do anything he wanted. There was no going back.”
(From Hurt to Healing, PublishAmerica, 2004)
When I wrote this I thought that the time I experienced my first orgasm (on Fr. D’s lap) was the last time he touched me. I don’t know that this is the case, though. I think it may be that after this experience I was no longer fully “present” when he touched me. But I’m not sure. I was somewhere between six and nine. I do know that after this experience I was still exposed to him a couple of times a month and my mother sent me to visit him and let him take me and my sister on outings. I have memories of these events but not of any sexual contact after that moment of very confusing pleasure. My clearest memory after this is of having my first period at eleven and deciding that I could not let him touch me again. So, I guess that confirms that he hadn’t stopped.
As to the pleasure, I didn’t know what I was experiencing, I just knew it felt very good and yet I felt very bad about feeling so good. I remember putting my arms around around his neck and wondering if I loved him and if I had to marry him. Apparently it is possible for children to experience pleasure even at such a young age. It wasn’t until I was in therapy that I described this experience and learned how traumatic it must have been.
But, as the quote points out, it is not a matter of how many times a child is abused; once is enough to cause a lifetime of pain and anguish. And when the abuser is a priest, the levels of that pain and anguish are multiple: hatred of oneself, hatred of God, hatred of one’s body, fear of sexual pleasure. Strangely, I have a very difficult time accessing anger towards Fr. D, himself.