MUST READ: New blog by a survivor of clerical sex abuse

Here is a powerful and inspiring MUST READ introductory post of a new blog by a survivor of clerical sex abuse.

The blog is call Off My Knees.

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An Introduction


A recent article in the Scranton Times-Tribune identified another priest in the Diocese of Scranton who has been accused of sexually abusing children.  The headline accompanying the story exclaimed “The Diocese comes clean on Abusive Priest”.  The Diocese did not really come clean, they were forced to respond to a reporter’s inquiry about allegations that Father Robert Gibson had sexually assaulted a 13 year old boy in 1973-1974.  As a result of the article, Father Gibson is no longer flying under the radar.  His dirty little secret is out in the open and the Diocese of Scranton has had to admit that they were hiding another pedophile.

The 13 year old boy in the story was me.  For more than 30 years I kept that secret to myself.  I was confused, ashamed and embarrassed by what happened.  Mostly I was convinced that no one would believe my story, after all this was a popular priest at my school and in the community.  I was raised in an Irish Catholic family where priests and nuns were held in reverence.  Priests were seen as God’s representative on earth.  We were taught at an early age that we were to obey them, without question.  Father Gibson knew this all too well and exploited it for his perverse pleasure.

For all these years I have carried the burden of being silent.  I am no longer willing to do so.   I have lived with the effects of this abuse and have seen it manifested in failed relationships, the inability to trust even those closest to me and a lack of self confidence and esteem.  While the physical effects have passed, I still struggle with the emotional and mental consequences on a daily basis.

I have been fortunate in having a wife and children who have been very supportive, more than I could have asked for considering the damage I have caused through the years.  My parents and siblings have also rallied behind me.   I realize now that I am a fortunate man.

I am not saying that my behavior through the years is excused by revealing my secret.  I am still responsible for my actions and inactions.   But I have asked for understanding and I have been granted that by those who are closest to me.

While I have to set my own house in order and find a way to move forward, I also think that I owe the other victims of Father Gibson, and others like him, an opportunity to speak up and come forward.   In the Scranton Times-Tribune article, the spokesman for the Diocese of Scranton admitted to four reports by victims about Father Gibson.  Until the article appeared, there was no public acknowledgment that he was a sexual predator even though the Diocese knew about his activities.    I have already spoken with one of his other victims, I was amazed at the similarity of our stories.  I am confident that there are many more than four victims and I hope more people will come forward knowing that they are not alone and that, whatever happened, it was not their fault.  I also hope that as more people come forward, those who have protected Father Gibson and others like him will be held accountable for there actions.

This is where I want to start the conversation.  I hope it will be cathartic for me and I am hoping you will offer your thoughts as I sort all this out.

    5 Responses to “MUST READ: New blog by a survivor of clerical sex abuse”

  1. Steve Rabi Says:

    You have removed the power that the Church had over you. Congratulations!

    To have the support of those you love and love you, to perhaps feel a large part of that burden you have been carrying is now removed and tossed aside, can only be refreshing. I hope and (yes, pray) that you slowly regain a better sense of self-esteem and that you can open yourself to new experiences on the healing journey that many of us victims and survivors have and continue to go through–to be made whole again.

    You have the support of SNAP available in your area and you should use it as you see fit. Remember that you are not alone, not at fault in any of your experiences with clergy sexual abuse, and that you have the support of a large network of men and women who are either victims, survivors, and those who support us/them.

    I wish you every good wish for success in your lifetime healing journey. Peace and contentment be yours!

  2. Elizabeth Sarfaty, M. Ed. Says:

    I am grateful to you for using the grace you sought to have the courage to speak out about your own very sad experience. I am so glad to know you have the support and loving understanding from family and friends. I am very touched that you now are willing to reach out to others who have also been so betrayed – in order to share with them the courage you have found by naming your truth, and the
    support you are generously offering them on their journey to wholeness within a “beloved community”, as Dr. and Mrs. M.L. King, Jr. so often framed it. Bright blessings be upon you – one day
    at a time. Peace,

  3. Dom Tomasso Says:

    Michael, my prayers go with you. I hope people will recognize just how complicit bishops are regarding criminal abusive priests. Their failure to stop
    abusive priests, when they are aware of an abuse by that priests, makes them just as responsible for any other abuse he is involved in. There is no
    acceptable excuse for their failure to protect God’s children. We had a bishop here in Tucson ( he has past away) that moved abusive priests from parsh to parish, yet our present bishop refuses to remove his name from the address of our Pastoral Diocese Center. “THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH DIOCESE OF TUCSON BISHOP MORENO PASTORAL CENTER.. Bishop Moreno
    is also listed as one of the 10 WORST BISHOPS in AMERICA. What message does that send to the parents of the criminally abused children in our diocese when he (bishop Kicanas) allows the name of that bishop to remain in an
    honorable position as part of our diocese address. I am also appalled at the
    failure of our local Catholics to speak out. Their silence in this matter fails to correct an unjust action. Michael, you have shown greath srtrenght in coming forward.Much, much more that the Catholics and priests in our diocese who
    do not have the courage to speak out against their bishop. I should also
    add ,that our bishop, bishop Kicanas, is presently the Vic President of the
    USSCB organization and will probably be the next president of the bishop’s
    organization in a couple of years. What message does that send to all Catholics?

  4. lck Says:

    Thank you for coming forward, Michael. You are helping thousands like you by your bravery.
    Like Dom, I too am appalled at the Catholics in the pew who believe the bishops and not the abused. We must continue to speak out!

  5. John Wirtz Says:

    Not having seen the newspaper article I can only surmise the bishop was not criticized for his cover-up. The headline says the diocese has come clean. “Diocese” my foot! The article should read: ” Bishop comes clean” with a sub title: “Prosecution to follow.” But that just doesn’t happen unfortunately. The priest who wronged you and others might truely be sick which might mitigate his guilt to some extent but the bishop who knew and allowed/promoted his crimes is the real culprit. Would you not agree?


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