My name is Ray. My wife, Paula, and I have been married since 1985 and we have five children. I am a survivor of clergy sexual abuse. My hope is that those who have suffered clergy or any other sexual abuse will have the courage to come forward and get the help they need.
I was abused by Father Martin, a priest and later pastor. It began when I was seven, after joining my brothers as an altar boy. I tried to tell my parents about what he was doing to me, but Father Martin was loved and revered by all, except for the children he chose to abuse, who learned the hard way that sometimes adults do not believe the children. In my case, my father beat me for making up bad stories about the priest; I never mentioned it at home again. Father Martin was a frequent guest in our home, which was hard enough, but for some reason my parents felt obliged to force me to go to events he was supervising. Besides serving as an altar boy, there were summer camps, road trips with the choir and because I was a sickly child he frequently visited me in the hospital taking advantage of me. His abuse ended ten years after it began and I was left with many questions many survivors ask themselves every day of their lives.
I did what I believe a lot of abused children do. I tried to just keep walking as though nothing had ever happened. I didn’t tell family or friends; I didn’t even tell my wife about the abuse until it was almost too late! I suffered within myself, and sadly, my wife and children suffered, too. They didn’t even know why I acted the way I did and the reasons why I was so overly protective of them. I was afraid that no one would believe me and no one would want to listen.
There is no way to express how this abuse and secrets diminished my life for over thirty years. Yet, I believe that God can draw good out of the very worst of situations. It was not enough to have a healing prayer service, to have award money, and to believe it is all just in the past. It is not over until my faith has been restored. The Grief to Grace retreat helped me to heal- body, mind, and spirit. It took me a very long time to realize that I am not the only one who had this secret. I am fortunate that I was able to attend the Grief to Grace retreat and that it has served as a catalyst on my road of healing.