The Causes and Consequences of Sexual Abuse

Pope Francis shared 21 Reflection Points at the “Protection of Minors in the Church” meeting in the Vatican yesterday. Number 9 on increasing awareness of the causes and consequences of sexual abuse grabbed my attention.

Reflection Point # 9: Increase awareness of the causes and consequences of sexual abuse through ongoing formation initiatives of Bishops, Religious Superiors, clerics and pastoral workers.

I thought, yes; society needs to “increase awareness of the causes and consequences of sexual abuse” and all other forms of abuse too.

That’s one of the main goals for this writing endeavor. I’ll be writing more on the causes of abuse at a later time. This post recounts the consequences of sexual abuse.

The Consequences of Sexual Abuse

As children, my father instilled in us, “You don’t tell anyone what goes on in this house.” – Eight of his nine children kept his secret.

By all accounts, my father was a decent man. Dad served his community as a volunteer firefighter. He built his own house after marrying mom and producing children.

Worked long hours at the International Paper Mill to provide for his family. Managed several large vegetable gardens and cut his firewood every fall for heat.

My father was a hard-working man and a good provider. However, his sexual desire increased over the years. And he fulfilled those desires of the flesh by sexually abusing his daughters.

Until one dared to run away from home and notify authorities.

Afterward, dad took off into the woods for a few days. He tried to commit suicide with a knife and chainsaw. My father survived the attempt. But, bore a knife scar from ear to ear and deep wound below his knee.

The visible scars, etched in place, were a constant reminder of the transgressions committed against his children until the day he died.

It’s heartbreaking; the iniquity of sexual abuse, fulfilling the desires of the flesh destroyed everything he worked so hard to accomplish: his marriage, family, and life.

Dad passed away in 1989 at the age of fifty-six. He received deep gratitude and respect with a memorial flag to honor firefighters who have served. However, several of his children and grandchildren still suffer the consequences.

The effects of his personal choices created invisible wounds in the hearts and minds of his wife and nine children. And those hurts lingered for years, and some a lifetime.

As we move forward in increasing awareness of the causes of abuse, you must be mindful of the iniquity of sin. – To acknowledge the role sin plays in the hearts and minds of humanity. You must seek the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for divine wisdom and the answers for genuine healing.