This is a message for everyone involved in the sex abuse cases at Saint David’s, especially to the new men and women in the story, and to the Saint David’s administration, and to anyone legally representing the school or survivors who are litigating:
Please, please be careful and kind, and please offer resources to help.
This post is peppered with clickable resources: please explore them and see what resonates for you. (The photo of colorful dots above links to a page on art therapy, for example.)
Since last December, seven men have come to me with stories of having either witnessed sexual abuse at Saint David’s School in the 1970s, or actually having been raped by one or more teachers there in the 1960s – 1970s.
The rapists’ names are public: Bob Ludlow, Rey Buono, Chuck Jones, Charlie Rich.
Some of the survivors’ names are public too, since some of them have filed civil claims against Saint David’s for refusing to take responsibility for these crimes.
There are in fact twelve men currently in this new, strong, wounded brotherhood of Saint David’s alumni. It’s so odd that Saint David’s helped form us, but now rejects us, treats us with disdain.
These men are doctors, lawyers, philanthropists, artists, judges, chefs ... and virtually all have struggled with emotional challenges all of their lives. At least one of us has experienced suicidal ideation or actual attempts. And some of us are mountain climbers, skiers, surfers, and still in our prime.
When three of these men told me their stories – for the first time in their lives – they broke down (over the phone, or in person) and so did I. We are all in our 50s or 60s mind you.
I am not new to the world of the male survivor. I have been in therapy and in men’s groups that directly address sexual abuse issues, for over 25 years. And I have counseled men and women who are dealing with sex abuse, addiction, and suicidal thinking, in my capacity as a provider of spiritual and pastoral care in hospitals, hospice, and on the street.
But I am not the expert on this, and so if you are a man who is considering telling his story, who may be considering taking some kind of legal action, I want to caution you that it is not an easy process.
Let’s say you read this blog, or have received my emails, and you decide to respond. If you do, I will listen, support you, and discuss the resources and options that feel best for you. I am not a referral service and my main job is to support.
But if you decide to pursue legal action against Saint David’s, or if you decide you just want to try to talk things over with Saint David’s, and you’re new to this, please don’t underestimate the gravity of all of “this” on you.
For sure, some of us are really, really resilient. At the same time, once you decide to enter this arena, I suggest you find and use supports immediately.
Telling your story to a lawyer may be very, very emotional and painful, for example. You will be asked to recount details of your abuse experience that you would rather you never remembered. [I did this with a lawyer last January, and describing the sexual abuse that happened to me, brought me to tears again, even though I had talked about the abuse with others before).
It’s not nothing. (And I just know that some of you have been told that it IS nothing, and “Why don’t you just get over it!” If anyone has ever said that to you, you can politely forget them, with generosity, for they do not love you [to paraphrase Pablo Neruda]).
So, if you’re a sexual abuse survivor and are new to talking about it, much less becoming involved in pursuing a claim under the Child Victims Act, please be prepared. Ask your lawyer to go slowly and carefully. Get your supports – people, groups, a therapist, family – firmly in place. You don’t want to go into a very stressful situation and come out of it more stressed. Give yourself time. Ask for time.
Opening up a sexual abuse story is like opening a powder keg: please, please, everyone involved, be very careful, and be ready for whatever emotional fallout could occur. This can be the start of great healing. And, we all know how painful it can be to revisit old wounds.