Time is running out for those who were once abused in schools run by the Irish Christian Brothers, a Roman Catholic religious order based in New Rochelle, N.Y.
As pointed out in Joelle Casteix' blog, The Worthy Adversary, the order sought bankruptcy protection last year after more than 50 victims in Canada and Seattle came forward about the abuse. It was the bankruptcy court that set an Aug. 1, 2012, deadline for any victims to step forward and be heard.
The Irish Christian Brothers have schools in many states. Their names and states are listed in The Worthy Adversary.
Victims of physical and sexual abuse need no reminder of who they are or where they were abused. They carry the wounding weight with them every day, sometimes for years and years and even more years. Their scars do not heal. Their lives have been blackened by a satanic force in Roman robes.
For years, many have kept their troubles to themselves. It is better not to speak of such things. It is too embarrassing, too frightful, too paralyzing. What would be accomplished? Silence seemed best.
But the only trouble with silence is that what is silence on the lips is not silence in the heart. The voices and nightmares of the past do not care about lips that have been so carefully sealed. After decades, perhaps, those voices are as implacable and unremitting as ever.
As no man can 'unthink' a purple cow, so the victims of the Irish Christian Brothers cannot 'unremember' beatings or sodomy or threats visited on the younger versions of themselves.
The victim who was helpless then often remains helpless today.
It is painful and hard to speak of such ancient wounds. The only question is whether keeping silence truly protects the wounded soul. Does silence banish or nourish the sense of helplessness, of loss, of confusion, of rage, of fear, of weakness, of horror, of ... a life at peace?
With no authority whatsoever, I urge all those who have considered speaking up and speaking out to do so now, before the Irish Christian Brothers walk out of the court room snickering.
Is it embarrassing? Yes.
Is it frightening? Yes.
Is it an act of revenge? You bet.
Will it change the past? No it will not.
Let it all out.
Give yourself permission.
Like it or not, you are a child of whatever god you choose and that god is not some malevolent, bottled up, snickering, child-beating pederast.
Let it all out and acknowledge in the calm that follows the fiery storm that you are not helpless. You are entitled to a quiet and forthright statement of being. You have the right to feel hurt and you have the right to care for that hurt.
Whether within or without, as Gandhi said, speak truth to power... and thereby dis-empower what you have empowered for so many years.
I am not a fan of people who ooze and drip with words like "healing" and "closure." Maybe, if those who were victimized speak out, there will be some easing of the pain. I don't know and would refuse to predict. But I do know that coming out from under the rock of helplessness, of bitter and confused silence ... ah, as you would care for your children, so care for yourself! This is the foundation of a healthy life.
The deadline is Aug. 1, 2012. There are many who stand ready to help.
All you have to do is ask for it.