Wednesday 13 June 2018




“The soul murder that he did to me is almost irreparable”

-Esther Miller, USA.

This is about historical child sex abuse, which I will call CSA at times here, so the site bots don’t think I’m writing porn. 

The effects constitute a life sentence for survivors. Some don’t survive. 

This was a very, very disturbing piece to research, and write.  (The details are horrible, and it must be so difficult being a counsellor for these survivors, much less having been through it.) Although the issue has been in the news for five years here, due to the Royal Commission being held in Australia into institutions’ responses to child sexual abuse, I waited until some more facts came out. I was going to wait until the verdict came down about Cardinal Pell’s case. However the muse struck yesterday. 

“You're sweet but you're just four feet

And you still got your baby teeth. “ - Spinal Tap

This song by Spinal Tap is a parody of rock songs that incorporate underage sexual activity.  It’s not 

for children under 16 or anyone easily offended:

Comment on the above song from You Tube:

colbyricho -

“I think the song is about a girl the same age as their speaker setting”.

3 years ago  100 likes.

I was brought up Catholic but was not sexually abused. As a result I still have my faith, and in bad times can pray to God. Even when bad things happen, I don’t feel the need to blame Him. Like other Catholics, though, I’m deeply shaken to read about the horror that others experienced in my church (and others). 

Just imagine, though, a child that was/is being abused, by a respected clergy member, that their parents trusted. This clergy member lives a double life, not practising what they preach, causing cognitive dissonance in their own psyche.  

How much damage then, was/is happening not only to the developing psyche of the child, but to their faith? How are they supposed to believe in God if His representative is doing the work of the devil? Then they or their parents went to the church for help and it was inadequate!

Doing the work of the devil. Think about that phrase. Who wants the Church torn down? He does! It’s happening, literally. Literally! Church buildings are being sold, and sometimes demolished, or burned by vandals, in modern times. The ones sold , and there are more and more of those, (a huge amount in Tasmania, for example, belonging to the   Anglican Church), are being used to fund the compensation cases for victims. 

Incidences of vandalism of churches, including fire, seem to happen more when revelations come out in the media about CSA occurrences. 

I knew Father Kevin O Donnell, before he was jailed for molesting children. Here is an excerpt from the Sydney Morning Herald:

“ O'Donnell is subject to the largest number of complaints to the church's internal compensation scheme, Melbourne Response. O'Donnell is a former parish priest at Sacred Heart Primary School in Oakleigh.

All 50 complaints against O'Donnell - relating to abuse between 1944 to 1992 - were upheld. The Melbourne Response has paid about $2.2 million in compensation and counselling costs to O'Donnell's survivors as of March 2014.

Other complaints against O'Donnell were settled outside the Melbourne Response.

He was charged with 49 child sex offences in 1995 and pleaded guilty to 12 counts of indecent assault. He was sentenced to 39 months' imprisonment.

O'Donnell died in March 1997, about four months' after his release from prison.

Two of his victims, Emma and Katie Foster, were repeatedly abused by O'Donnell at primary school. Emma later took her own life, and Katie is in a wheelchair after being hit by a car.

They are the children of prominent survivors' advocates Chrissie and Anthony Foster.”

My first husband and I were living in one of the parishes that Father O Donnell worked at, in the early 1990s. New to the area, we did not know of the gossip . We answered a call for people to run the parish youth group, there were 5 of us young adults volunteering there. Back then they did not ask for a “working with children check” certificate, as they do now. I never saw anything untoward happen to the teens. We took them out on outings etc. One memorable one involved all of us putting on evening dress, and dining at Mc Donald’s with proper crockery (dishes) , cutlery , napkins and flowers. The staff were bemused, but took it in their stride. There was a fun scavenger hunt, parties, they were a nice bunch.

One day, I received a call from Fr O Donnell, telling me that a bedroom in the parish cottage, where the youth group was run, would henceforth be kept locked. He said that a 17 year old youth, not known to us, would be living there as he was kicked out of home. At the following youth meeting, I saw that the door was indeed locked. I decided to bring the boy some food. Included in the box were 2 minute noodles, something easy to cook. 

On following up, the youth told me he was assessed by a doctor as having malnutrition, saying the two minute noodles must be to blame. He was studying his final year at school and needed stability. I discussed it with my first husband, and we offered him our spare room. Alot of people were coming and going from our house at that time as I ran a business from there, and we entertained regularly.  It took some time to clean the room out and paint it. In the meantime, the teen came out with us to a restaurant for my mother’s birthday. 

During that time I had a call from Fr O Donnell. He was against us taking the youth into our home. I ignored him. In retrospect that is surprising, as he was a forceful personality, an old style parish priest with all of the prestige that involved in those days.

(Subsequently we hosted another foster teen, this time answering an ad from the authorities. We were thoroughly assessed first, and fully supported by social workers. )

The boy from the parish stayed with us three months, during which time his school grades (marks) climbed , until we encouraged him to reconcile with his parents and we drove him home, his surfboard on the roof of our car.  He has always been a friend since then, and he has said something to me on many occasions. He said that God told me to take him in. The news about Fr O Donnell’s arrest and jailing for child molestation hit, and parishioners were saying the rumours had been flying for years. The young man felt that living in that parish cottage he had been at risk. I didn’t know that at the time. 

I think that God talks to us, guides us, we just have to listen and respond. Some people have perfectly laid out plans, and lives. They must be in control. Well I can tell you, that could shut out the subtle voice of God telling them how to stop a crime. We can see that, in how the churches and other institutions moved these pedophiles around, instead of sacking them. If the institutions had just listened to God, instead they followed the prevailing medical views, that pedophilia could be cured. The churches often did put these perpetrators into counselling. Then they put them out in the field again. That is no longer the practice today. Unfortunately, it’s too late for the victims who suicided. 

Pedophiles are in every occupation, especially  but not limited to those that give access to children. They also do volunteer work with children, or may groom neighbour children  or other ones they meet. Pedophile rings also source children, and may abduct them to be shared around. 

Perpetrators can be married, or single, homosexual, straight, or bisexual, like Fr O Donnell was. This means that abolishing celibacy for clergy in the Catholic Church may reduce the pedophilia, or it may not. It might help. My personal opinion is that it could be made optional. Some people are naturally asexual. From my readings, it seems that down the centuries the rule has been broken so much, causing babies out of wedlock to be adopted out, and other secretive behaviour, that it would probably be better if priests and brothers could follow their counterparts in the Protestant and Orthodox churches, marry, and not constrain their natural sexuality. 

God hates pedophilia, the Bible is clear on that. Here are but a few of the verses that any clergy man or woman would have known off by heart:

This is crystal clear:

“ It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” - Luke 17:2

Advice to the churches on defrocking pedophile clergy:

“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”

- Matthew 5:29-30

Advice to ashamed perpetrators to stop their hidden activities and get medical help:

“For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

- John 3:20-21

CSA can cause major mental illnesses in survivors, such as , but not limited to Depression, Anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder (previously called multiple personality disorder) and PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Borderline personality disorder is particularly difficult to treat, but depression in children is also,  as many prescription meds can no longer be given . 

Many CSA victims feel suicidal, many have committed suicide, either using quick methods, or slow self destruction. For those people , CSA wasn’t just soul murder, it was just plain murder. 

Some CSA survivors commit homicide, sometimes of their attacker, or other crimes. Some become pedophiles. 

Marriages and other relationships of CSA survivors commonly fail . It takes a generational toll, the mental illness of the parent or grandparent can cause mental illnesses in their families. I think that that does not get enough publicity, or government support. Eliminating the root cause, by protecting children, would save health payments of millions of dollars.

 There were CSA survivors in both of my in-law families. The first was  S. abused by a 16 year old woman when he was 4, he said. He said their parents were socialising “up at the house” at the time. He subsequently experienced symptoms and diagnosis of Voyeristic disorder (peeping Tom) and stalking. He would not only look in windows at women naked, but from a young age, climb up into man holes in the house, viewing his sister, and female visitors dressing, and shopping centres (malls) climb up to look down into public toilet cubicles. (Since I was told that, I try to go into the cubicles without vents in them , uggh.) He took his bike to school when it was closed, and cycled around the playground stark naked. 

The voyerism went on for more than 20 years and marriage did not cure it. He was caught looking in a window at 2 women dressing, when an adult, immediately feared their boyfriends taking natural justice, grew a disguising beard, and was spirited away to family, at which time I found a Cognitive behavioural therapist for him. He informed his parents of the cause of his disorder, they were shocked and responded that the 16 yo perpetrator could not have done it- denial. He felt betrayed by that, and anger at his parents, for years.

In the other set of in -laws of mine there are no less than three survivors of CSA. They were all molested over a long period of time intensively by a male adult friend of the family that was “babysitting “ them.

 It was horrific abuse. 

One developed addictions and went through drug and alcohol inpatient treatment. He was “known to the police” they told me, when we had difficulty with him. Another developed diagnosed severe mental illnesses (co - morbidity) that badly affected nearly every area of his life. It seriously affected , and affects, his marriage and children via his mental illness too. It’s not easy growing up hearing your father say he wants to kill himself. He is permanently on medication. The third wanted to prosecute, (but another did not). The parents were not in denial after things came out. They offered to pay for treatment. However, I’ve never been told why they did not report their friend to the authorities. 

I have known other people who were sexually abused as children. Most did not become pedophiles as far as I know, contrary to the widespread belief that it is common. 

An older man , who was a retired private investigator, familiar with the underbelly of Melbourne, told me that in his experience one in three men had experienced CSA. 

This is much higher than the accepted statistics, although experts estimate that real figures are much higher than reported. Part of what survivors feel is shame, which may cause that discrepancy. 

Many want to bury their recollections. One survivor close to me  started medical hypnotherapy with a very good doctor, but was so shocked by what it brought up, that he dropped out of therapy.

When I worked in psychiatry and intellectual disability, I was one of the very few staff that read whole patient files . I was struck by how many had reported child CSA in their histories. Some of those patients were psychotic when admitted.

Due to my professional insights, and experiences of my in laws, I was very protective of my children. I did not put them in child care where there was a sole practitioner. I told them always to stay with the group, and right up until my daughter turned 16 I discouraged sleepovers at friends houses. There are always men and boys interested in her, and I openly tell them I am her “guard dog”. Her father, who is big, is a deterrent too. 

In our town, like any other, there are pedophiles. I make it my business to learn who and where some are from locals, so I could protect my kids. I put the latter in martial arts classes when we lived in the city. 

In our street there is a convicted pedophile, who did jail time. He has told us his story himself. Others have told us stories about him too, relating to alleged CSA in recent years since the jail sentence ended. Some rough justice has been meted out to him by persons , Ive been told. They were arrested, he is still there. When I’ve been concerned about his interest in our daughter we have told him to back off, in writing. I had it copied up at the police station and signed by a JP there. It caused revenge behaviour by him, and later a verbal dispute, but so what? I don’t care what people think, it’s worth it if my child grows up innocent, allowing her brain and psyche to develop normally. 

We have our children and we are responsible for them. Our recreation is not more important. It’s our job to supervise them , and if we really can’t, to hire people or businesses that have child protection certificates. Here that involves a police check, and a “Working with children check” that is up to date. Recently my husband had to renew his for his Emergency service volunteering.

I think past generations trusted clergy, scout masters , sports coaches, etc too much. We put priests up on pedestals, despite them being only human. It’s irrational to think someone’s job title automatically makes them trustworthy. Australia has changed, government requirements have caught up, and many parents are more careful now, but not all. I see children as young as 5 or 6 years , walking alone or with young siblings to school without an adult, because under stupid state government rules they are not allowed on the bus if they live in town. For years, here,  I walked my girl to school or rode a bike alongside her, in all weathers, and when I was sick, but parents who have to work or are too disabled cannot do that. 

Many CSA survivors self medicate with illicit drugs and alcohol. Although marijuana is becoming more legalised in parts of the world, it can cause psychosis , as research has shown. Others get relief from their bad memories with other addictions such as gambling, shopping etc. and some become sex addicts. This kind of behaviour is also caused by the poor self esteem that so often belongs to the abuse survivor. Some avoid sex.

The last thing survivors of CSA need are the side effects of illicit drugs and alcoholism, or the poverty from gambling and shopping addiction. Sex addiction or aversion can lead to marriage breakdowns, that can also lead to poverty. 

The best thing, and essential, is long term treatment from a specialised child abuse psychiatrist or psychologist. Recommendations can be sourced from support groups set up for survivors of CSA.

George Michael

The meanings of the lyrics of that song are controversial. Some say it’s just a love song to a man or a woman. (He is deceased, but he was homosexual.) Here’s one theory from 88feji- 

“ No one here mentions it, the lyrics obviously about ...

... a catholic priests' obsession with pedophilia ?

Note the lyrics :

"That's all you wanted, SOMEONE SACRED In your life... "

"I will be your FATHER figure, PREACHER, teacher ..."

"..just for one moment to be warm and naked at my side ..."

".. sometimes love can be mistaken for a CRIME... "

"... I will be your father figure put your TINY HAND in mine ...

"...Greet me with the eyes of a CHILD ... "

Everything applies perfectly to a pedophilic priest ("father, preacher") lusting for a child ("tiny hand" !) ... “

By 88feji

on October 23, 2017

Make up your own mind. Song lyrics of the above:

A timeline of major points in the road to a Royal Commission into institutional responses to CSA in Australia:

Today’s national news - the recommendations of the Royal Commission being put into effect:

Causes of child sexual abuse by clergy:

Anglican churches to be sold in Tasmania to pay for compensation to survivors:

Types of pedophile priests according to a psychiatrist who treated them. He later testified to the recent Royal Commission on institutional responses to CSA:

2002 article gives overview including Fr Kevin O Donnell:

Written by a mother of girls abused by Fr O Donnell:

A therapist’s view of celibacy:

Overview of Popes’ response to the crisis:

Cold chisel:

Compensation paid out to one family:

“The soul murder that he did to me is almost irreparable”

-Esther Miller, USA. Survivors of child sexual abuse speak out, this is not suitable for children to watch, it discusses details of CSA.

A warning for parents and caregivers:


Mary K. said...

Oh my you certainly did a lot of research on this topic. I have four children who are now adults and for many years lived in dread that something would happen. As parents, we cannot be vigilant enough with others and by that, I mean people who are not strangers. It is also terrifying that the church has not done enough to combat this problem.

Running on empty said...

So true, Mary! Even as women we have to try to stay safe. Many parts of the world are even more dangerous, I have to count my blessings.

As for the research, I knew some of it, but if I’m going to publish, I want to get my facts straight, and not defame someone. I figure if they’re convicted in court it’s legal to write.

There has been a compensation scheme for years, now they’ve started another. Therapy and unemployment are expensive so that’s fair enough. However, they should expect some con persons to appear for the money. All cases should go to court, and the evidence sifted.

Jeanie said...

Wow. I'm impressed with your research. Regrettably, this is nothing new but it seems to be more prevalent or perhaps we are hearing about it more. Either way, it is important to get out that word that this happens, that the children are innocent and it is profoundly wrong. A physician from our community and university was recently sentenced to so many years in prison he'll never get out for abusing you women gymnasts, both in town and on a national level. The stories they told in their sentencing hearing were horrific. And they are the ones we hear about (although he got away with it for many, many years.) Add to it all the others who either are not believed when they come forward or who live with it in their memories and it is dreadful situation. thank you for writing this.

Running on empty said...

Welcome back, Jeannie. The research was very upsetting. I think if many parents read some of the source material they would never let their kids out the door. Thankfully the vast amount of people are good and decent. It’s the bad apple that rots others and needs to be removed early. I think the drugs that suppress testosterone sound like a good way to go for the intractable offenders. You’d have to mandate someone else coming in to watch them take it though, not trust them.

As for the institutions, they need to get their acts together and decide their priorities. The safety of people should always come before prestige, wealth, power, or connections. They protected their mates, instead of the kids, and that’s wrong. In the end, it’s also bad business, as the truth will always come out, just look at Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. You can’t cover something up for ever so why not do the right thing?

Running on empty said...

Correction, Jeanie, one n, sorry.

Pam Richardson said...

Cath, you did so much research on this horrific problem and sin. I will write you a private email soon. We must be vigilant with our children and grandchildren to protect their safety and innocence. This doesn’t just happen in the Catholic Church.

Running on empty said...

I look forward to that, Pam.

So true, and so devastating, Pam. The churches should be mentors and good examples to us all!