Archive for the ‘Catholic Nuns Child Abuse Survivors (CNCAS)’ Category

Comfort in a Catholic Church?

September 18, 2013

(You have no idea how hard I work to keep my mouth shut on this site.)

In this experience we call human life, which is a misinterpretation of what is still essentially animal life; I believe that each of us has the inalienable right to find comfort where he/she can find it. In part, that’s part of the mission of this site; to be a Sacred Space where participants can find comfort from childhoods of great pain.

“Life is suffering” sayeth the Buddha.

What Buddha missed was, “and the avoidance thereof”. But then again, since such avoidance is but another form of suffering, he explained life perfectly. Only fools like me would think he may have missed something!

There is no greater truth about life and there are such incredible varieties of sufferings to choose from that what you consider the deepest of agonies could be eternal orgasmic ecstasy to another. Go figure!

But life is also transcending suffering by thought or deed or intent. And yes, for far too many, life means enduring it like a Purgatory that never ends and legions succumb to the suffering by manufacturing more of it for themselves, without getting help from circumstances or anyone else. They become suffering. In that way, do they embody life?

Let’s leave that debate to those with the patience of Mother Teresa.

We’re here to look at the varieties of experience that have been helpful to our participants. My way of contributing is to just play with ideas and concepts as they come up, and share a little of what I’m learning about myself as I do. So let’s explore the idea of comfort a bit further.

Someone on this site mentioned a number of times that attending Sunday Catholic Mass had become routine. Now the suffering avoided (in my opinion) had more to do with relationship with spouse. On this site, can you imagine ANYONE turning to the very Church that abused them for comfort from those wounds for any reason?

I don’t care about why, where or how the comfort was derived; it made life a little more endurable for that person until it was time to abandon the practice.

Who amongst us has not paid for a dollop of comfort with a dash of hypocrisy?

Look at me. This is my first announcement of this but guess what amigos? I moved out of the United States to a Catholic country. I’ve chosen to move my life to a place where the center of most of the populace’s week revolves around Catholicism.

Every morn at 6:00 a.m., sometimes earlier, I’m awakened by the pealing of Church bells from each side of town (we have two churches), and that’s just the first time for each day. I don’t really tune them out, they are a part of my life; a part of the order and consistency of things without my really paying much mind to them. But my guess is they call the people to prayer here as often in a day as Muslims bow to Mecca.

In fact, one of the most important grounding things I did upon moving here was to make sure my first Sunday here I went to Mass; to share my prayers of thanks with the people who are hosting this grand adventure. Naturally, you go to where they go to pray.

The Catholic Church is something I haven’t done since I don’t remember when, maybe 1990.

Talk about suffering! This is Old School Catholicism. The benches to kneel on were slabs of wood, and the people attending, 90% indigenous, were dirt poor and really didn’t need any reminders of servitude. But I wasn’t there to judge or even examine, I was there to pray my prayers and let them bounce off all the 19th Century walls with everyone else’s.

And, naturally, I took my place center pew with the best view of the gold-gilded altar I could find and within minutes, a bunch of nuns came in and surrounded me.

I had a choice; the nuns could have been gifts or scourges from God (or Jesus for that matter). I’ve come a long road and my choice was to see the wink of God in the whole deal, acknowledge it and even get much joy from the encounter because what I was told was “You’re free to do whatever you want with this experience.”

In 1990 I might have tried to trip one of them up and knock the others about like penguin bowling pins but this day, I chose to feel deep gratitude to be in that moment of time, exactly where I was. Amidst the nuns, I felt comfort.

And now, I’m paying attention to how the Catholic Church expresses itself down here and you know what I’m hearing? A surprising number of stories of clergy going to bat for the poor and sacrificing; can you imagine that? But I’m not here to investigate the Church, or even to think of it much beyond this piece.

I find comfort in knowing any time I want (literally as many times in a week as I want), I can be in the presence of local people who seek comfort and guidance from Spirit. Let’s put it this way, there are two centers of town and both are churches, NOT banks. Just being around people with that intent and focus, no matter the form, enriches my own ability to connect with my  own Source. I only care about one denomination; mine and there are many vehicles that help me to know it better!

Underneath all our horror stories lay wonderful stories of hope and guidance. They take on so many personally powerful shapes and forms that you can’t help but sense that many forms of custom-designed support are available from other than the physical realm if you just seek them.

What’s important here? What’s most important is to grow to understand (yes, no matter how painful) the difference between the abuse, the abuser, the system that supported the abuser, the core values that were violated, what you caused and what you were victim of. Only then can you attain a sense of self in relation to your past traumas that will allow you to move more fluidly through your present-day life.

Essentially, we’re not responsible for the abuse, but we ARE responsible for our recovery. And by extension, what we do with the lessons learned and never forget; how we can choose to help others lessen their own burdens.

Of course, there’s another aspect of our personal responsibility in the matter. If we were not at all responsible for the abuse itself as it originated, we are certainly responsible for what we do with it to harm ourselves and others. To even realize that this happens is a major part of the recovery process.

In general terms…regarding this site…I really don’t mind people sharing what gives them comfort, almost no matter what it is and as long as that comfort does not harm others or involve the conversion of others to that way of thinking. My job is to make sure there are limits and boundaries. Much to everyone’s credit, I’ve rarely had to exercise my authority.

My point is it’s important for us here to be able to see ALL SORTS of options to aid in our own recovery; maybe ESPECIALLY if it means reading of someone’s way of coping and declaring “NO! That WON’T work for me.”

We have come from childhoods where our options were severely limited. We have come here to witness how our peers have unburied themselves so that maybe we can find such shovels and pickaxes and helpful workers in our own lives.

Welcome to the storeroom. Rummage through what you see and take what works for you and, please, allow your peers to find the comfort they can from what works best for them, regardless of your ability to approve or understand it.


How to make a killing off a dead Pope!

August 28, 2011

I have to cop to a certain amount of trepedation about so visibly expressing my rancor at the incredibly twisted Catholic Church. I mean, in everything else in my internet presence, I am Russ Reina, a firetender whose oft repeated mantra is that I am here to nurture the flames of  Spirit that live in me and all things.

(Something like that anyhow. You may have noticed I tend to say the same damn thing over and over again but just in 50,000 different ways! Nobody listens anyhow so I may as well keep working on the words until they really CLICK!)

And here, in what I reserved as a personal blog of my personal musings I am so damn stuck in my outrage of the Church! For all you see, this is all of who I am. It’s not, it’s the part whose soul got ripped free of its innocense.

Just to get this out of the way, what I REALLY should be doing is trying to sell my book. Let speak for me on that.

But, honestly, just like I’ve encouraged others to vent, I will take my own medicine and have at it. Since I never attained a place on anyone’s pedestal there’s nothing to fall off of is there? And for the record, this never was about gaining publicity; I’m just mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more!

And you have no idea how deep is the love I have for all of my Contributors because they’re all screaming out the windows as well!

What got me here was a post by Mario on this site. In part, he said…

…I was just being a jokester about that. I know he was supposed to appear in Jerusalem (2nd Coming; firetender’s note). This does give me an idea though glad you bought (sic) that up. I can go there to sell, Jesus balloons to the kids and hamburgs and hot dogs. Just think, I may be able to perform a miracle by feeding 5,000 people from two hot dogs and a bag of rolls. You’ll probably catch it on the six O’clock news. All the Christians that will be their waiting for his arrival.It’s a good time to make a few bucks. Might as well take advantage  of the occasion.

On first blush I’d have to say that’s pretty damn miserable, Mario! Look at what you’re doing; you’re suggesting that, based on inspiration you received from this tender, sensitive blog that you can justify yourself going out and ripping off a bunch of devout Christians!

That, my Contributor is DEPLORABLE!

You can do better; For Chrissakes learn from the EXPERTS!

First of all, your project is labor intensive.

The balloon thing is a pretty good idea; cheap, the images are public domain, and they are innocuous giveaways for the kids. I’m cool with that, but remember, you will have to blow the damn things up or spend 90% of your time helping the little buggers to do so on their own!!

And, really, do you think it’ll be easy to turn two hot dogs and a bag of rolls into enough to feed 5,000 without an expensive set of smoke and mirrors? You ever watch a bunch of Christians at a Las Vegas free buffet?

(Please consider pork hot dogs if you do this; it’ll keep away Jew and Arab non-believers.)

You could do what Jesus did which was (arguably) ascend to Heaven for around 75 years until a good publicist showed up (Paul) who then spread the, um, slightly exagerrated story like wildfire.

But you know what, Mario? I don’t think you have the patience, and to be in your corner, neither do I!

So let’s get weird here, Okay?

1) Let’s you and me make up a wax dummy of Pope John Paul II; the guy who they just rushed through canonization as a Saint quicker than Crazy Glue sets.

2) Let’s figure out which country eats up the Pope being God’s direct representative on earth, hook, line and sinker as evidenced by his reception there when he was alive; preferably, let’s say, a country in turmoil, where innocent people are getting murdered by thugs and the people need to hold on to that old “reward in the afterlife” thing.

3) Let’s parade around the streets, letting the faithful touch the bulletproof glass sarcopagus with their whatchamacallums…oh yeah Scapulas and, of course, Rosary Beads, hell, even panties, why do anything to discourage expressions of faith?! I think they think that’ll knock off some time in Purgatory if I remember correctly. That’s what I was taught, anyway.

(Wait a minute, something is missing….Okay, got it!)

4) Make sure, with that wax figure you’ve got some bones or something from the real body of the pope. Wait, that’s too gross. Maybe a tooth or two that didn’t make it to the Tooth Fairy. Nah, in order for that to work the wax figure will have to visibly have the teeth in question absent; it’s a credibilty thing.

5) SCRATCH 4) I got it! How about having with it a vial of the dead Pope’s BLOOD. Say it was taken from him just before he died, for some reason that has ZING! appeal to me.

6) And here’s the beautiful part; you don’t even have to ask for the cash. It will be thrown into any box labeled, “Help us take our Vicar to the next town!”

Here’s where this firetender guy is truly out of his mind, isn’t he? Clearly, he deserves to lose what little credibility he had. I mean, what does he think; people from the impoverished ghettos will flock to the display and part with the spare Pesos they need to feed their children so the Church can continue to parade around with what used to be called a “graven image”?

SOMEBODY THINKS SO! And I’m sorry, Mario, in the time it took me to write this (I Googled, of course, to make sure I wasn’t stomping on anyone’s Copyright!) I found they beat us to the punch!

For once, this firetender doesn’t know what else to say.

An Aye for an Aye!

August 21, 2011

I think it’s fair to say that we, who have been Spiritually abused, have, at one time or another, questioned the existence of  god or the justice of ANY God. In my world, moments like these were fueled by outrage at the ripping away of my innocence. “How could I be so stupid as to entrust my fate to a god with such twisted sisters?!”

HE is their reflection, is He not?

How could I or you or anyone of us NOT be immersed in rage at some point? Note, I keep stressing that such things are in the moment. As with all emotions it is up to our choice how long we occupy any one of them.

Clinging to them can be debilitating as me and many of my peers have experienced, but sometimes, that’s what happens.

So when someone here expresses an “Off with their heads!!” toward God, his/her minions or their philosophies no matter how expressed, I can hear it. In fact, I want to hear it precisely because no one else did!

You’re right when you say ALL Extremists should be banned from having contact with our children — I have said it myself — but then I want you to listen to each other as well and hear that that puts you into the realm of Extremism.

An eye for an eye makes everyone blind.

And please, don’t forget that there ARE many of us who, through whatever means DID, in our childhoods, connect honestly and truly with the Central Force that our teachers abused. THAT connection has sustained our lives.

Take me, for example. Somehow, through singing, I established a visceral connection with the best of what I was taught Jesus was about. That initial absorption by me, by some magical entrance, helped me to distinguish between the good that came from that Source and the evil of what was made up by twisted minds and heaped on me and my classmates.

I abandoned it all after Grammar School and went about a perhaps 10 year quest to UN-learn everything I had been taught in Catholic School. That meant tossing out the baby with the bathwater. I had to, otherwise I never could have had room to let fresh water in to nourish something new. No matter how I looked at it, that baby was presented me as a burden, not a gift.

Sorry, but THAT baby had to die for me to live. I couldn’t really see at the time that what I was really doing was spinning a cocoon around it until it entered its appropriate stage of development and I had room to let it live inside me again.

Somehow, I REALLY got a tremendous amount of comfort from that — enough to have the strength to question and abandon it!

And there were MANY times I found myself railing at, protesting against and defiling everybody else’s gods who reminded me of the one who became the vehicle of my Spirit’s abuse. I had to work hard and fast to NOT allow those voices to dominate my life because that would place my focus on THEIR gods rather than cultivating my own.


Because what I found was that being godless just doesn’t work for me!

The connection is the Connection and that never changes; if I listen, through it I gain a little wisdom. Maybe it’s that damned simple, but you know what? Those little pieces of wisdom that seem to come from outside of myself are often…just…enough…to keep me wanting to live and continue to contribute.

I’ve learned to do what I’m told, but I know Who’s REALLY asking now!

Now that may be a far cry from the kind of fealty to Jesus that was beaten into me. But you know what? It’s enough!

So, what I’ve learned is that God has many faces. They are fluid and often times you have to really work hard and sacrifice a lot to get to see the one that you need right now. But they are there to choose from.

There’s that word again; CHOICE!

So, yes, I have a request here, as well. I want to hear the pain and I want to hear the reactions AND I want to hear the coming togethers as well in understanding and tolerance for each other. Out of that comes mutual growth.

Holding on to positions, or being subject to being held TO immutable positions is what got us to this site in the first place!

So let us be gods FOR each other. Let us find the places where we can hear the children in us crying out in pain and then extend hands to sooth it.

Remember, a big part of this Blog’s purpose is to be a vehicle for us to help each other move forward and my hope is ON so that the damage no longer lives inside of us.

This is not about revenge; it’s about self-restitution using mirrors.

And you know what? You ALL are doing a wonderful job!

I suppose I’d still like this Blog to attract somebody(s) to nail the Catholic Church on this, the underlying iceberg of its true abuse. But honestly, I’ll really “settle” for a bunch of us to see each other, help each other find perspective and hope, and then carry a living Jesus out to others, whatever form that may take.

An unexpected Gift!

April 9, 2011

WE’VE GOT COVERAGE and will be heard by up to 3.5 MILLION people! Below this announcement I tell you how it came down.


Sorry for the late notice, but such is life!

I hooked up with a Blogtalk Radio hostto participate in this show which will be covering Spiritual Abuse by the Clergy. What’s very cool is we are getting hooked in to a Network and will get RE-BROADCAST on two larger shows in NY and Houston for a week as well; potentially 3.5 Mil. listeners!!

Tuesday, April 12 at 8-9PM EASTERN / 5-6PM PACIFIC time

Yes, the show will be on live and listeners can call in to participate, : 714-364-4731 Press 1 to signal if you have a question.

About 20 minutes after the show concludes, it will be available to listen to download on demand.


Sunday 4/17 it will air nightly for 7 days at 8:30pm ET on, and 9PM CT on

No guarantee how long I will be on as other guests will be sharing the space, but I will be prepared to stoke some fires!

I subscribe to a publicity newsletter of producers seeking guests on their shows. They were seeking guests to speak of Predators in the Pulpit, but I saw a different angle! Here was the query I made that got us a spot:

EXPAND YOUR DEFINITION: USE THIS RESOURCE How about including the legions of children who were taught by or under the care of Roman Catholic Nuns and physically and emotionally abused? The children absorbed both carnal and spiritual abuses galore from “God’s representatives on Earth”. A typical internalization that takes a lifetime to work through is “I am BAD in the eyes of my Creator”.The harrowing thing is that the volume of abuse doled out by Nuns DWARFS that meted out by priests during the 1940’s through 1980’s.

In May 2009, incensed by all the coverage being given to sexually abusive priests, I vented my spleen in a Blog – In it I, recounted my own experiences at the hands of Dominican Nuns from 1956 to 1964 in Brooklyn, N.Y.. To my surprise that one blog drew testimonies from around the world from people in their 40’s to 60’s and older who suffered terribly at the hands of Catholic Nuns as well. The heartbreaking thing about it all was many thought they were nuts most of their lives and barely believed such things had happened to them! I consciously began to build a safe-haven for people to come to to speak out.

I’m offering you this resource so you can read some of
these responses for yourself. I offer this out a sense of
obligation to the people who wrote in and then — even
cooler than anything! — started offering each other
support! I’m really not crazy about becoming the Poster Boy
for Child Abuse at the hands of Nuns — I’m working hard on
other creative endeavors, but since my name is on this and
it’s an issue that MUST be addressed, if I’m called on to
speak up, I will; and I betcha a buck, a lot of others will
join me!

They dug it; we talked and BOOM! here we are!

I’m going to write a doozy of a blog tonite and publish it just before the show; watch for it.

Child Molesting with no Consequences? Get Frocked!

March 10, 2011

In the comments section of my initial rant about Catholic Nuns came this, from Frank:

Philadelphia Grand Jury names 21 priests

get this – A Grand Jury indictment and they’re placed on leave!!!!

Here’s the script: “deny, pre-varicate, shift the focus, cover-up, deflect, obfuscate, downplay, obstruct, placate, minimalise … But whatever you do, don’t take any real action!!”

These are the essential steps being passed down from Pope to Cardinal to Archbishop to Bishop in “The Paedophile Shuffle” the wildly popular dance craze that has swept through the Church hierarchy worldwide for more than a decade, whereby you skilfully manoeuvre problem priests from parish to parish with hardly anyone noticing!!

I’m not particularly crazy about having to take a position on stuff like this.

My focus now is largely on building a foundation in other aspects of my work. I really don’t want to get “identified” as one taking a stance against the Catholic Church, but when things like this happen I have to scream in outrage!

Yet, my rancor is really not directed at the Catholic Church.

Forgive me, but I’m a Simpleton. I’m under the impression that if I were to be caught or suspected of messing with the genitals of children I would not have the luxury of suspension from anything, I’d have a view out the window of a holding facility!

I thought this was a crime?

Could you or I get away with having our freedom while evidence piles up against us making clear that we were part of a conspiracy of adults to strip the innocense of children away from them while protecting each other from any consequences whatsoever?

They throw guys in jail for possessing pictures of children having sex for Chrissakes! Under any other circumstances, this would be called a Child-Rape Ring!

We would let these guys walk the streets? Looks to me like we are.

If you have a frock, I guess it’s okay to physically molest children because, why? You are a representative of Christ? The Separation of Church and State? Maybe it’s a Mafia thing and the DA’s worried about getting popped? Wait a minute, you’re talking PRIESTS here, firetender.

You’re right; child molesters have definite scruples when it comes to harming adults! Maybe it’s because adults can defend themselves and don’t buy into the “man of God” thing so easily.

As Men of Christ, logic dictates that they would be held to a higher standard by everyone, especially themselves. But no, for some reason they are granted something more than Diplomatic Immunity, let’s call it Ecclesiastic Immunity and we, the people, grant it to them.

It’s an Insanity Defense but what’s insane is that WE are defending THEM.

Let them get their Due Process, but like the average Joe Child Molester, let them be escorted from jail, and enter Court in handcuffs.

Why is NO ONE talking about this as if these priests had committed CRIMINAL acts?

The Grand Jury comes back with findings, so the Church “suspends” 21…

oh, I’m sorry, did I say TWENTY-FRIKKIN’-ONE! priests?

Who are they, anyway? I thought there was a mandatory registration of sex offenders? Guess that doesn’t count with priests; we can’t even have access to their names!

Could I possibly be the only one who is questioning this? What is the DA waiting for?

Building Abusers

February 13, 2011

I must admit to a certain bit of reluctance to continually come back to this blog because each time I do, there I am, re-living a little piece of the trauma. But I’m compelled to because;

#1. After about 54 years I still have to get it OUT!

#2. Maybe someone needs to hear it besides me

So I let it sit without comment for weeks at a time, and during that time, of course, because this Blog is part of my life story now, ideas percolate. Also, I become inspired by other contributors — especially the ones, like Robert who wasn’t quite sure if the Blog was  still operational. Even I forget sometimes that fire needs continual attention!

A theme that has kept coming up for me as I search for better understanding of the topic of abuse at the hands of nuns is that sexual repression makes you act weird.

What became the icing on the cake were some on-line article speaking of the development of an iPhone application to help Catholics prepare for confession (these are quotes from a couple of sources with links):

The app’s designers and some believers see it as a way to spur Catholics back into the habit of repenting…”There’s a reason we designed it for these mobile devices: We want you to go to confession,” said Patrick Leinen, one of the developers and a co-founder of the company Little iApps.

The text-based app takes the user through the Ten Commandments, with a slew of questions attached to each, a process known as an examination of conscience, which penitents undergo before confession.

Questions range from “Have I wished evil upon another person?” to “Have I used any method of contraception or artificial birth control in my marriage?” and users can check a box next to each sin they’ve committed.


The firm said the content of the app was developed with the help of Reverend Thomas Weinandy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Reverend Dan Scheidt, pastor of Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Mishawaka, Indiana.


Maureen Dowd at the NYTimes notes that the hot new app

Walks you through the Ten Commandments, your examination of conscience and any “custom sins” you might have…

For instance, if you sign in as a 15-year-old girl and look under the Sixth Commandment, one of the questions is: “Do I not treat my body or other people’s bodies with purity and respect?” If you sign in as a 33-year-old married man, that commandment offers this query: “Have I been guilty of masturbation?”Under the Sixth Commandment, men and women are asked: “Have I been guilty of any homosexual activity?” Priests, however, are not. They are asked if they flirt.

Something evil has been done and you better note it and be clear on it. This, they say, will help you repent you evil creature you!

But when you scan through the list, a kind of “decision-tree” custom-designed to make you face your personal collection of miserable, (literally!) hell-bent sins, so much of it is about judging the experience of normal sexual desires.

Sure, the idea is keep a handle on ACTING OUT your baser instincts, but according to the app tracking your evil means  judging yourself first about things that will throw you into Eternal Damnation:  homosexuality, masturbation, fantasizing, making remarks and even having all the thoughts associated with sexual expression.

Let’s mention this one more time for the hell of it: the consequence of transgression is ETERNAL DAMNATION!

The Church was fine about the app at first. Here in the U.S. (referenced above) a number of Catholic Bishops supported it as a tool to help facilitate preparation for Confession, but then, when there was an implication that you could also receive a form of absolution WITHOUT being physically in front of a Priest, well, then, the Church had a fit!

After all, once you step inside the Church, and go to the Confessional, it is customary to make a donation “to the poor.” But they have to make sure you step inside!

Priests catch the flak these days, DECADES after their despicable actions. Nuns, as yet have basically gotten off Scott-free, yet that all is diversionary. How could it be otherwise because not one iota of focus is being placed on   the stuff that drives Priests and Nuns to taking their crap out on the Innocent.

What the app claims to help you regulate, my Friends, is the very STUFF that makes Priests and Nuns take their frustrations out on kids!

It’s all about STOPPING the natural flow of energy. Sexual energy is a (literally!) potent force. The energy has to go somewhere, but let me ask you this:

How come Buddhist Monks aren’t out there messing with little children but Priests and Nuns are? They both focus on sexual energy don’t they?

Perhaps there is a significant difference between holding back sexual expression because it will merit you Eternal Damnation and holding it back because it is a distraction from what is real.

Real is somewhere you want to be, Eternal Damnation is somewhere that you want to avoid at all costs, but because being human with human desires automatically qualifies you for failure, you’re gonna lose anyway so what the hell! As a human being you are in the midst of a very twisted conflict.

Whereas other religious orientations channel the energy, Catholicism CORKS it. Just like with a volcano, when something shifts underneath the surface and the lava starts flowing into the chambers again, pressure builds up and up and then…BOOM!

If Priests are the tip of the iceberg and Nuns are below the surface, what do you do with all the parents who brought children into the world due to an obligation to procreate manufactured by the Church and then go on to perpetuate abuse?

The Church is actively putting Innocents into harms way by MANDATING that everyone conceived gets born; regardless of the circumstances they are born in to. Now we’re going into a tailspin because that’s talking of abortion, how can I weasel out of this one?

My point is the orientation of the Church continues to make it likely, if not probable that children get hurt.

If not through the declaration that their normal sexual feelings will doom them to hell, then through placing their bodies into the care of individuals whose own sexual expression has been so controlled, they are likely to explode at any time.

Like I keep saying; the whole system is sick.


January 19, 2011



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OMG What Did I DO?

January 15, 2011

I think I goofed, or Providence stuck its finger where the sun don’t shine in me!

While doing a Google search for new articles, I came across this…

So I read the article and its comments. In the comments were a couple of people, just like us, who caught the whip and hadn’t much talked about it.

Thusly inspired, I wrote this and tried to add it in as a comment:

There are incredible numbers of people who have been abused by Catholic Nuns. The priest scandal is BARELY the tip of the iceberg indicating a core sickness in the basic execution of the Catholic Church.

The Church, by not facing its underlying problems, like a child-molester, should be banned from having any contact whatsoever with children. There is NOTHING that has changed in the way they do things to indicate our children are safe in their care. Every piece of evidence shows avoidance of responsibility while minimizing the financial impact on their institution.

But that’s only my point-of-view, and it’s part of a much larger movement who’s time has come.

In 2009 I wrote a piece for my “a firetender’s blog”. It was just meant to vent a bit of my pain, having been a victim of what I understood to be a “cultural reality” of my times; the license granted to nuns of the Catholic faith to physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually abuse children. This was my reality and like so many of my peers, I’ve spent my LIFE sorting through, facing, and working through the traumas.

Something like this happened; one morning, I checked in to my barely used blog and I found 50 comments, including MANY stories of similar abuses! And SO many of them were my brothers and sisters, my peers, now somewhere in around their Sixth Decade on the planet, talking about this stuff FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME!

This thing is growing and we need your help. Here’s why: We haven’t really had permission to share our stories. They are so unbelievable and we’ve had to build up so many defenses around them that the only people who could begin to grasp the impact these influences had on our lives are those who’ve suffered through it themselves.

But this ain’t about suffering!

Please visit and contribute! The blog has grown into a resource AND safe-haven for the expression of honest feelings and experiences. Its purpose is to provide a venue for people to make their experiences real and begin talking about them and working through them. It offers new perspectives and — not by my design but by its natural evolution — is becoming a place where people come to help each other!

That is the fire I’m getting called on to tend.

I realized this site is not about protest or vengeance on the Church or anyone. That’s an energy-suck. But I’m from Brooklyn and I always have a hidden agenda; I figure if we put all our focus and attention on helping each other, MANY MORE of us will show up, WORD WILL GET OUT, PEOPLE WILL LISTEN and the next step will be revealed to us.

Everything else will take its proper place from there. I have faith in it.

And then I tried to get it posted but something, I don’t know what, screwed it up, or no confirmation came through or maybe, it actually went through.

The first thing I realized is I forgot to put in the URL for this blog, I put in my URL, but that’s okay, they can probably Google us!

THEN, scrolling to the top of the article to see if I missed anything, I saw the name of the on-line publication I tried to put this in to:


We may have just parachuted into enemy territory. And then again…

Echoes of Abuse

January 10, 2011

Through working with myself and many others, I have come to a theory that helps me to better come to terms with how pain shapes our lives.

Developmentally, in broad strokes, the first ten or so years of our lives are spent trying to “size up,” get a sense of what the world is that we have been born in to. We are trying out our “earth suits”. If you’ve ever watched an infant getting used to being in the confines of skin, you’ll understand.

But we are also coming to terms with the nature of the world around us. What is this world, and who are we in it?

They say that the “power of reason” takes root some time around our tenth year, when we begin to fully realize that we are a separate entity and that the actions we take have consequences. We appear to not know this very well intellectually before this time.

The consequences of our actions  can roughly be translated as what happens when we express ourselves as we want to in the moment. We do something, act a certain way, use certain words and then something happens to either encourage or discourage our repeating it.

Based on the dominant experiences we have, essentially how adults treat us around certain behaviors, we begin to make decisions about “This is what the world is. This is what my life is in relation to others. This is how things go when I let myself be that.” This filter, or mode of interpretation of our experience, persists throughout our lives.

In terms of my own experience with nuns, by the age of 6 my childish mind understood that women were unpredictable, violent and dangerous. At any time, my body was theirs, they could take it, harm it and not suffer any consequences. They were the embodiment of power and it really didn’t matter if I knew it was abusive, that is what power was all about. Compared to the female nuns, the male priests were without life and impotent.

The process of living, of course, exposed me to other types of women. I learned as I matured that there was a huge difference, even a core sickness to nuns that “real” women did not share. But still, those negative impressions of what is the essence of woman lingered.

Often, without knowing it, when placed in a situation with a powerful woman, my body would have to “adjust” as I internally assessed the level of danger that I was really in, or the amount of safety I could count on.

The point I’m trying to make is that many of these experiences were seen unconsciously first through the filter of the past. Oftentimes we have to work that much harder to see or experience what is really in front of us.

To give an illustration, let’s use anger. Have you ever been in a situation where, without understanding why, a few words said a certain way make you furious and you have to calm yourself down before you can really respond appropriately? The roots of that are often the perceptions of your six year old overriding what is in the Now.

For children who grow up in a largely safe and supportive environment, the most important understanding that guides their actions the rest of their lives is that the world is, at least, something flexible upon which they can have an effect.

They may not get everything they want, but they can ask without fear of derision or retaliation. They are more akin to growing up with the tree’s innate awareness that bending with, rather than fighting against or protecting from, assures longevity.

For those of us who have been more traumatized, however, the understanding of what life is is considerably different. The biggest stumbling blocks of my life have followed the theme of, without my recognizing it, treating the world and its people as if I were still in my childhood.  In that way, the world I knew as a six year old–a world full of fear, self-protection, solitude, distrust, and chaos– became the world I was living in.

As I work with others–and continue to work with myself–I see the biggest challenge is in experiencing what is, rather than reacting to what was and passed long ago. Back then, there were only a few actions that could be taken to avoid trauma. The trick is to recognize there are many more options today.

The reason for this being such a difficult thing to shake is that, at the time, our very survival depended upon our working with that world as we knew it. Our behaviors were not guided by exploration or risk taking, they were guided by the best means of protection we could figure to forestall being harmed. When this happens, the only response is that.

There was no other world at the time. If we took the chance to gamble on there being a different type of world, chances are, at the age of six or so, we would be violently thrust right back into the world we originally feared!

A continuous cycle of reinforcement ensues. Once the outward circumstances change, as in getting old enough to move out of the abusive situation, there is a tendency to continue to seek out that which we know so well.

The impression of that threatening world got in largely non-verbally and viscerally, and without rational explanation. Our rate of recovery is proportional to the amount of time that we spend in a different, more safe and supportive world. But we DO have to impose a different awareness on our experience.

The glitch here is the innate desire to duplicate the familiar. There is not a one of us who has not been able to find a shred of security within the context of the traumatic worlds that we have been born into.

Even what others would describe as horrors are often interpreted as sources of love. In my case, for example, there was a part of me that didn’t feel loved until I got into a verbally violent argument with a woman in my life and then I was able to “soften” her.  To have that familiar experience of love, I sure had to start a lot of arguments!

Pain was what I understood as the gateway to love. There was no other, until I learned, by repeated exposure, that there is. And that takes time.

NEW CATEGORY: Catholic Nuns, Child Abuse Survivors (CNCAS)

November 3, 2010

I’ve established a new category on my a firetender’s blog website so all the writings leading from my initial blog

Catholic Nuns, Child Abuse and Vows

will be in one central space.

Mahalo Nui Loa

Wopila Cepa

(A big fat thank you!)