It has been a while since I have read a book regarding clergy sex abuse. I reached a saturation point with my reading quite a while ago and didn’t want to have anything to do with abuse material any more.
Someone called my attention to Veronica’s Veil: Spiritual Companionship for Survivors of Abuse. It was written by survivor T. Pitt Green and Father Lewis S. Fiorelli, O.S.F.S. (Oblates of St. Frances de Sales).
I heard about the book quite a while ago but didn’t have the emotional energy to invest in it. Upon hearing about it again and with feeling so much better, I decided to order it. I am so glad I did. This is the description of the book as written on Amazon.com:
Spiritual Companionship for Survivors of Abuse A Guide for Integrating Faith with Recovery
Veronica’s Veil is a watershed in offering spiritual support to a growing number of adults who wish to integrate their Christian faith into the arduous psychological recovery from child abuse by clergy and other persons in authority. Veronica’s Veil can help transform encounters with survivors of this trauma into turning points in healing. This is an essential guide for priests, sisters, deacons, other ordained and lay ministers, and therapists-as well as families and friends of abuse survivors. Recreating the point/counterpoint style of the authors’ workshops, Veronica’s Veill features over 175 essays on topics that commonly arise in therapeutic work or other recovery settings. With many tips for sensitizing one’s language and approach, Veronica’s Veil inspires enlightened dialog about faith with adult survivors of abuse, violence and post-traumatic stress. With additional notes by a psychologist, Veronica’s Veil is an excellent aid to informed spiritual dialog that runs parallel to professional counseling, with insights for Catholics and non-Catholics into a uniquely faith-based struggle overcoming childhood abuse. Veronica’s Veil draws on the gentle spirituality of St. Francis de Sales to create an invaluable tool for all people seeking to integrate Catholic and Christian faith with a survivor’s recovery program.
I not only bought a copy of the 400+ page book for myself, but one for my therapist and spiritual director. I don’t know if they will read it, but they will have it as a resource. My spiritual director said that perhaps this is a book that every priest should have.
Father Fiorelli teaches spiritual directors how to help abuse survivors, right down to the types of words to use and the manner in which to speak to them. I was pleased, but not surprised, that my spiritual director has helped me in much the same way as Father Fiorelli suggests.
Teresa shares her experiences and insights in a very gentle way. As I read it, I feel like I have a companion on a very difficult journey. Much healing has taken place in my life, and I no longer live in the darkness that was so pervasive for so long. But reading her words help me feel like I am not alone. While I know there are many others out there who have suffered the same fate as I, since I have no regular contact with any, it is easy to feel alone. Reading the book softens that blow.
She has a web site, Restoring Sanctuary, that I strongly encourage you to visit. A wealth of information awaits.
I have no way of knowing, but I assume many of you do something similar as I – you do what it takes, when and how to help move towards wholeness and holiness. It can feel a bit like groping around in the dark, but that is why a support system is so important. When we are in those areas of darkness, someone can guide us through and help us maintain hope.
I am grateful for those who have helped me find my way to peace. It is my prayer that the Lord leads you to those who will help you do the same. God bless.