I cannot begin to tell you I understand why a person wants to deliberately hurt another human being just because they can. I am not saying that we are not capable of doing harm or of losing control and snapping, but to hurt another human just for the sport of it…..for the shear pleasure of causing pain….I don’t understand it.
But I’m not going to talk about those people right now. I’m going to talk about why we were targeted by those people. I know that there are to put it nicely, unpleasant people in this world. You don’t have to look very hard to find them. We kind of grow to expect that in life.
But a lot of us were raised to go to church each Sunday….or Saturday…and get a heaping helping of soul cleansing forgiveness, love for our fellow man, and hope for a better tomorrow.
There we find that the person who just stole the spot you were waiting for in the parking lot will smile gently and take your hand and wish you “peace”. You are in a safe environment. Love and incense permeate the air. You leave with love in your heart as you walk the extra block in the rain to your car and forgive the jerk who took your spot. Your heart is open. God and all of His representatives know that your heart is pure and you are good. You turn the other cheek.
People act differently in church and around priests. I’m not saying that in itself is a bad thing. People should be able to feel safe in church and around priests. We know we should. So we do. We automatically drop our guard. We know that nothing bad is going to happen to us in a place of God and of love and around God’s people who we trust our secrets with.
I used to work at the Tribunal Office. Catholics go there after they have been divorced in order to divulge all of the very intimate details of their married life….including everything that happened in the bedroom….to the priests who work there in order that those priests may determine whether or not the marriage was valid in the eyes of God and the Canon Law of the church. How vulnerable is that? When was the last time you told your best friend everything that went on in your bedroom? I cannot even imagine talking to a priest about that.
My point is that we have grown up trusting priests and we have been more vulnerable with them than perhaps anyone else. The last time I went to confession….many years ago….I found myself face to face with the priest. I was so uncomfortable, I never went back.
But if everyone is trustful around priests, what makes it so that only certain people are targeted for abuse?
I’ve heard from many people that when it has to do with the abuse of children, not always, but many times, there was some hardship like divorce or the death of a parent or a particular vulnerability such as a preteen struggling with sexual identity. In any case, one thing is common….the abuser, the predator, wants their victim to be an easy mark. Unfortunately, the innocence and trusting nature of children makes them easy targets.
For adults, I think it would be safe to say that predators are looking for the same thing in their prey. A vulnerability of some sort, such as a parent going through the illness of a child and needing support and comfort, or a young gay man beginning to discover his sexuality for the first time by himself in the world as an adult perhaps not really quite sure yet how to set boundaries with new male relationships.
For me I believe it was my non-confrontational demeanor with my supervisor. That and the fact that we were pretty much isolated in our suite of offices due to the nature of secrecy needed for our clients and the fact that we did not have a large staff. This left me alone with my boss one day a week. I had friends in other offices but we worked part time different days and for two days a week I was the only support staff in our office.
I also discovered later on that priests have an awful lot of power when it comes to jobs and money and giving and taking away when you work for them.
With my boss, territory was determined. I was not even allowed to close a door to another unused office in order to keep my office a bit warmer in the wintertime…unless I had permission. This was not said to me directly ahead of time, but rather after I did so and was at my desk and all hell broke loose when my boss had to enter the file room office for something and the door was closed. He totally flew off the handle that this change was made without his prior knowledge or approval. I remember him screaming about it and demanding to know why the door had been closed and I don’t remember if I said anything or not but in any case, I don’t like trying to reason with people when they are being unreasonable and he was in charge so…..I tried my best to look like I was not affected in the least by his tirade as I sat there. But….I saw him look at me. I remember that. I just had the feeling he was gauging my reaction. Looking for any kind of reaction. Perhaps my silence was enough of an encouragement for him as he seemed to enjoy jumping out of nowhere at me and catching me off-guard. He would often show up at my desk and demand to see statistics or some such thing when I was in the middle of doing something else. And he would remind me that he had the right to go anywhere and see anything in his office area at any time without question.
It was unnerving and felt sometimes like trying to hold onto a sailboat in a storm.
Never once did I say, “Come back when I’m not busy”. I stopped what I was doing and did what I was told.
That is one of the reasons I believe I was targeted.