It’s difficult for an adult to admit that they have been conned. We know not to give out our personal information on the phone or worry about scams that we have heard of….such as the grandchild who calls out of the blue and needs money because they’ve been in an accident. People who are generous, kind-hearted, and honest tend to be more naïve when it comes to someone trying to pull something over on them because they themselves would not do that to someone.
But even those people who have been able to avoid the scam artists and gold diggers of the world, tend to let their guard down when it comes to men of the cloth.
Many women have seen guys they know fall for the “wrong” woman….or man. We can see for miles how the relationship is going to turn out. We can see our friend or loved one taking a nose dive into heartache…to fight for someone who does not care for them….to end up being a shell of who they were when it ends. Most of these passionate highs and lows come from intense physical attraction and perhaps a hidden message inside of themselves that they don’t deserve to be treated decently. But almost everyone has had such a relationship at one time or another.
People may outgrow the need to consciously search for an emotionally “dangerous” relationship. But few of us with egos don’t appreciate a bit of flattery. And few of us who are human actually want to push away love and companionship.
I say “want to” because some of us are too afraid not to push back when someone tries to get too close. Perhaps we’ve been burned by the flame one too many times or had our good nature taken for granted too often to take a risk of being conned once again.
So here we are people…..careful with our hearts and yet still needing closeness.
It doesn’t matter how old we are. There is still a vulnerable child inside who wants that attention from Mom or Dad or the acceptance of friends. But the world at times, can be a cold and lonely place, and we always have to keep up our guard. Except when we feel we don’t. When we feel safe.
A priest feels safe. They care. They are learned and sometimes interesting. They are the best of all worlds. They don’t need anything from you. They have a job, a home, a family of sorts, hobbies….we assume…and sometimes interesting hobbies, and most have travelled around the country or the world. And they are interested in you. Generally. It’s their job. All you need to offer in return for their friendship is an occasional home-cooked meal or a beer while watching the game, or just respect upon meeting them on the street.
We are spiritual beings, we are physical beings, we need closeness, connections to other humans, acceptance, love and we need to feel safe. And what feels safer than connecting with a priest? That is, until it doesn’t feel safe. And by the time that we begin to question the relationship, it is already too late to trust our own opinion. All we know is the ups and downs of the roller coaster ride we don’t remember agreeing to get on.
We all know this story too well. I’ve discussed many aspects of being an adult abused by a priest. It’s horrible. You feel conned. You thought they could be trusted and that you were their friend. It’s devastating. What you thought was something spiritual and personal all of a sudden has left you alone in the spotlight with accusing eyes upon you as you suffer in isolation.
It’s bad. It is. It changes a person. It changes your world and your view of many things. And as hard as it is to get through this…to heal…..it can be so very hard to talk about it. That is why we have support groups for survivors.
Once a month, there has been an on-going support group for Adults Sexually Abused by Priests (ASAP SNAP). In addition to “regular” support meetings, it was felt that it would be beneficial for those abused as adults….who have gone through that particular trauma…to meet together.
Now that group is expanding and branching off to form a “sub-group” just for men. Because it is tough for people to discuss their stories in front of other people and it’s felt that perhaps male survivors may feel a bit more comfortable talking in an all-male group.
So, starting in April, the Men’s ASAP SNAP Community will have its first meeting. The meeting will be held on the second Saturday of the month from 1pm to 3pm E.S.T. Please check with SNAP to gain access to this meeting.