DAVID ~ We've seen that predators and predator priests as well, gravitate towards kids who have inherent credibility problems. So these predators will become Chaplains at the County Jail, for example. So kids who were picked up joy riding, or shoplifting, these predatory priests will take them under their wing. Then again, it's very tough for an adult to believe any child instead of a priest.
My own brother was molested by the same priest who molested me. My brother went on, to become a priest. And, my brother went on to molest kids. One of his victims, was a kid who came to him, and said, ‘Father Kevin, I was molested by Father so&so.' Then, my brother went on to molest him. It was terrible. I've talked to survivors over the years, but the hardest calls come from people who were molested by my own brother.
To be honest, a lot of victims end up taking their own lives. So I'd argue, anybody who's still here, is at some level, a ‘survivor' ... even if they don't seem like it. Often times, people don't define themselves as survivors ... until they've been in a lot of therapy, and the effects of abuse tend to have less of a grip on their lives. I don't really believe, that very many, if any, victims do actually overcome the abuse, in total. I think some of us eventually learn to manage it, and live with it better than others ...but it's a part of us, forever. The number one, undeniable, unifying part of the abuse experience, is helplessness. Each one of us, regardless of how old we were or who the perpetrator is, each and every one of us, as kids, was helpless ... absolutely helpless. Whatever steps we can take as adults to not feel helpless, and to regain some of the power that was stolen from us, that's almost always healthy.
The abuse would always happen when we were out of town, sometime hundreds of miles away from home, on trips to the ocean, the beach, the mountains, camping, hiking, that kind of thing. It would almost always be when I was asleep, or trying to fall asleep ...just the two of us in a motel room, or a tent, or sleeping bags. I would wake up, and he would be on top of me. He was a big guy, 6'-4". I was absolutely terrified. And confused. I didn't say anything. I didn't know what to say. I'd wake in the morning, with absolutely no recollection of it, at all. None. It wasn't until my early 30's, that I began to have memories. At first, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I must be crazy'. But it didn't take me long to figure out that, ‘No, these memories are very real'.
I found out the priest who molested other people, including three of my brothers.
I'm sort of a reluctant agnostic. I don't belong to any organized faith group. I know a lot of survivors are able to have some kind of spiritual life, but I'm not.
[Editor's note: David went on to co-found Snap - Survivors Network for People Abused by Priests, that has support groups for survivors across the U.S.]