Testimony of a woman abused by sexual abuse from a Central and Eastern European country

When I was 6 or 7, the new priest arrived in the parish. He was young, kind and charismatic.

He visited us at grandma’s, later also in family flat. He used to take me to sit on his lap. His hand would go under my top, stroking my bare back, with hand coming to the front and touching and stroking my not yet developed breasts. I was trying to resist, holding my arms close to my body. He tickled me, until my arms were released so he could continue. This would happen in front of my grandparents. He would be touching me, while having easy conversation with my grandparents, who didn’t say anything.

This was the grooming stage.

Later, he asked me to show him the room where I slept at grandmas. I was very happy to do so. He asked me few questions, talked easily, then placed me on the bed and started to stroke me under my clothes, my breasts, bottom, my vagina. Afterwards he got up, straightened his clothes as if nothing has happened. I remember I felt dazed, confused, not quite understanding what has happened. There was no one to ask if it was normal. Talking about sex was a taboo.

I kept replaying it in my little head, over and over, what has happened, trying to make sense of it. I came to decision it was my fault, that I have seduced him. He was good and I was bad, sinful, dirty, shameful. He was a saint, like God to me, surely he wouldn’t do anything to hurt me? I was naive.

When other episodes like this happen, I would take myself out of my body, disassociating.

Looking back I wished I had more knowledge and courage to stop him when he was grooming me.

I lived my life feeling ashamed, holding myself responsible. Feeling that I was bad, sinful, feeling guilty. I didn’t want anyone to find out about it. Feeling fearful that someone would find out and blame me. It was my dirty secret that, unbeknown to me, was affecting every aspect of my life. I lived my life as invisible. I believed that if anyone really got to know me, they would not like me.

I felt like a victim best part of my life, allowing others to victimise and hurt me. I lived with depression. My marriage was unhappy and have ended in divorce.

After my daughter was born, I fell into postnatal depression, fearing that I won’t be able to protect her. Like there was no one to protect me….

I never trusted anyone to look after my children for too long, not even the closest family members.  I would watch closely every encounter my children made with an adult, male or female, questioning them, if anyone touched them inappropriately.

I found it difficult to be around the older men in authority. Be it boss at work, headmaster at children’s school, doctor or at social function. I felt awkward, feeling like a child, unable to look them in the eyes or speak properly, I would feel very anxious.

I didn’t like people touching me or hug me. I found it hard to say no to people, to my own detriment. I didn’t have personal boundaries.

In intimate romantic relationships, I couldn’t stay no. I felt they somehow had right to my body. During sex, I would often disassociate, pretend to myself I wasn’t there.

I still disassociate when I am in extremely stressful situations. My brain shuts down, I am unable to think and my body freezes, I find it difficult to move. Sense of panic and fear takes over.

I have been in personal therapy for years and overcame many effects of it.

I felt sense of confusion about it for a long time. Now, I don’t subscribe to any religion. I believe people are people. All perfectly imperfect. I have found my own way to God and to spirituality, that doesn’t require a middle man. I see religion as a tradition.

The investigation process of the Church is taking a long time. Sense of not knowing if I am believed or not by the church can be unnerving. If he will be found innocent or guilty. I feel frustrated at times, feeling, that this will never end, that there will never be closure, being in the limbo state. I try not to think about it too much as I feel powerless over the process. I remind myself that I did everything that was in my power to try and stop him, so he won’t hurt any more children.

Świadectwo wygłoszone podczas modlitwy w trakcie międzynarodowej konferencji „Nasza wspólną misją ochrona dzieci Bożych”, zorganizowanej w Warszawie przez Papieską Komisję ds. Ochrony Dzieci i Młodzieży i Konferencje Episkopatu Polski w dniach 19-22 września 2021 r. i gromadzącej przedstawicieli Episkopatów i osób pracujących w obszarze ochrony dzieci i młodzieży w blisko 20 krajach Europy Środkowo-Wschodniej.