Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Nation in Denial. What about the 97%?

Denial is a defense mechanism, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.

The Vatican's response to Taoiseach Enda Kenny's rant in the Dail last July, has shown that Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore, both got it wrong. The truth is, we can not blame the Vatican for the sexual abuse of Irish children by Irish priests. We will have to blame someone else. Enda and Eamon were wrong, they insulted my Pope, they insulted my faith,  and I await their apologies! I wonder if they will be brave enough to admit that they got it wrong?

The Vatican is not responsible for the fact that Irish men raped and abused Irish children. We as a nation need to grow up an realise that we had and no doubt continue to have a problem in relation to the sexual abuse of children. The issue of child abuse needs to be addressed at a national level, and not just at a Church level. Irish men (mostly men) perpetrated these crimes. They were sons of  Irish mothers and fathers. They were reared in Irish families. They were not beamed down from the Vatican! Our paedophiles were homegrown! We need to stop blaming Rome and start blaming ourselves. These Irish men abused children, and we as a nation handled it badly. The Church handled it badly, the Gardai handled it badly, the State handled it badly, and families handled it badly. And we are still handling it badly today, despite all our fake anger and moral outrage!

Here are disturbing statistics from the SAVI Report 2002
  • Girls: One in five women (20.4 per cent) reported experiencing contact sexual abuse in childhood.
  • A quarter (24 per cent) of perpetrators against girls were family members.
  • Boys: One in six men (16.2 per cent) reported experiencing contact sexual abuse in childhood.
  • One quarter of all abuse was committed by someone aged 17 or under.
  • Clerical/religious ministers or clerical/religious teachers constituting 3.2% of abusers.

We need to look at these figures and be brave enough to admit that this is not just a Church problem. One quarter of all abuse was committed by someone aged 17 or under! Now that is one figure we can not blame on the Church! The shocking reality is that Irish families have sexual abusers living in their midst, and they are not all even adults. Most parents worry about protecting their children from abusers, but few would think about their own children as people capable of abuse (but that's what the figures suggest.)

Do you know of a sexual abuser, or a victim of sexual abuse in your family? Statistically, there must be sexual abusers in all our extended families. 20% of the women, and 16% of the men in your family were abused in childhood. Now I suppose most peoples initial reaction would be, "not my family", and this is a natural reaction. We do not want to admit that such things could happen in "my family". But families are very good a keeping secrets, and sexual abuse is a secret that most people do not want to shout about. Abuse happens, and if it is exposed, it is often deal with it very badly, and then it is never mentioned again, and that is why most of us do not know the dark secrets of sexual abuse in our family history. If you do not know of an abuser in your family, perhaps it is because, some has covered it up, by silence! It has been concealed, by silence?

Irish society wants to blame the Church for all of this, but we can not. 97% of children who were sexually abused were abused by people who were not priests! (Now you would never guess that when you listen to our Irish media). As a nation we continue to ignore the 97%. The media ignores the 97%. We are not willing to face up to the 97%. The 97% is not a problem that will go away, by simply ignoring it. We can not handle the truth of the 97%. We are a nation in denial. At this moment in Irish history we have a scapegoat, the Church, and for the time being we will continue to live in denial and blame them for all of this. But in blaming them we continue to fail our children! Do we want to stop child abuse? Do we want to face up to the complex reality of child sexual abuse? Or do we simply want to continually bash the Church? I think it is easier for us to blame the Church, because we are cowards!

It seems as if you can say anything about the Church these days, you can make any number of generalisations, you can tell any number of lies, and you will be unchallenged. It seems that we as a nation could probably blame every ill in Irish society on the Church! I think the approach seems to be, blame everyone except ourselves. We have become a nation of blamers. We spend our days blaming everyone for everything.

If we really care about children, if we want to protect children, let us look to the 97%. What have we done for them? Nothing! Do we as a society want to do anything for them? Here is another fact, 200 children have died in state "care" in the last ten years, and no one gives a damn. No one! We only seem to care about those who were abused by priests 30 years ago. SHAME ON US! SHAME ON US!

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