Monday, 29 April 2013

Closure ?

Everyone talks about closure as if there will be a tangible, light bulb moment when it happens, or begins to happen. What should it feel like? Does it begin after a trial, after an apology, after acknowledgement or even perhaps after a compensation payment. I have spent the last 10 years in counselling and the ultimate aim was 'closure'.

When I last wrote about this post-trial period and how it was different than I had imagined, I still believed it was a period of closure, principally because that is what I had imagined it to be.

I have spoken with my counsellor many times about it and perhaps even when I should expect it. What form does it take?  Would I be aware of it as it happens? Will it make me feel very different? Will I be able to cope with life after 'closure'?

Whilst visiting my GP 2 weeks ago, he asked me how things were and I told him how I was feeling. I mentioned the 'C' word. He asked me what closure was? He asked me why I needed it? He asked me why I couldn’t live a normal life, running parallel to my past? Because the likelihood is that I will not forget what happened and it will always be part of me and part of my life. I was slightly stunned. Not because he was blunt but because that was perhaps the start of something new. An acceptance… or dare I say 'closure' in the form of acceptance.

The truth is I now firmly believe that there is no such thing as closure. There is, however a way of functioning normally. Whilst not forgetting the past, the future must take priority and we have to remember that our legacy is of our own making. The fact that we don’t wear our past on our sleeve doesn’t mean there’s no story to tell. The fact we wear a smile doesn’t mean there’s no sadness. The fact that there are positives in our lives does not eradicate the negatives. The truth is that all of the stories, sadness and negatives are still there but they have been assigned to a place where they belong, THE PAST.

I don’t want to be defined as a victim of clerical sexual abuse. Yes its part of what formed me but that doesn’t mean it must define me. It has made me what I am (whatever that may be) but it is not all I am.

The irony here for me is the quest for 'closure' only extends the anxiety in the search for it. It is a self- perpetuating road to nowhere. I am in the process of accepting that my memories will be with me forever and although that’s difficult to accept it’s also quite refreshing. It’s a different view, even a brighter view, because I am not allowing events of the past to control me, and everything I do.

The fact is that everyone has a story to tell but some will let it define them and others won’t. Some will find it easier than others and some will find that it’s not an approach for them to take. I, on the other hand will make a start and see where it takes me. God knows I have tried everything else and the only one who will create a legacy for me is myself, (with the help and support of those who love me).

So as for the apologies, the acknowledgements, the trials and all the compensation payments, they are all part of a process of acceptance, all part of a process of greater understanding of self and others and all part of a wider public awareness. None of them either alone or collectively will allow anyone to forget. They will however allow us to live our lives with pride and dignity which has eluded us for so long.

I am not saying accept it and move on…. I am saying accept it as best you can and live a little!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Thanks to everyone who has signed my petition. I have now reached the 750 signature mark. Just 250 to go to my 1,000 name target! If you can, please find a few seconds to sign or share it with your friends and family.

Every signature means so much to me, as each one helps me to keep pressure on the Irish Government to ensure that Chapter 20 of the Murphy Report IS released.


Friday, 19 April 2013

Responses from State and Church.

On hearing that the publication of Chapter 20 of the Murphy Report was facing a delay, I wrote to various heads of State and Church.

Some of them have responded. Some haven't. There is still no change to the mid-June date for the hearing in the High Court in Dublin, to decide details of Chapter 20's publication.

Below are some quotes from various correspondence I have received:

Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster - "I do not have influence with the Irish Government. I am travelling to Ireland in the next ten days and will speak to episcopal colleagues there about the matter you have raised."

From President Michael D Higgins' Secretary - "The president has asked me to explain that, while he has received many requests from people for assistance or intervention, he regrets that the nature of his role as President is such that he cannot intervene in or make representations about matters which come within the remit of the Government, the Courts or indeed, any of the institutions of the State which might have responsibility for the area to which your letter relates."

Senator David Norris - "I am genuinely sorry to hear that you have been the victim of clerical sexual abuse and can only imagine how horrific it must have been. I do hope that you receive some relief from knowing that the perpetrators are receiving their just rewards. Regarding highlighting your concern that the last chapter of the Murphy Report be released i shall certainly do my best to draw the attention of the Government to this whether it be in the Seanad chamber or else where. Please be assured of my support"

Archbishop Charles J. Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland - "Please know that I am committed to doing everything possible to promote the compassion, real understanding and willingness to change which you refer to so movingly in your letter."

Cardinal Sean Brady, Archbishop of Armagh - "I am sorry to hear of the abuse you suffered at the hands of Patrick McCabe. I am glad that you got consolation from being remembered in Archbishop Martin's homily at the Chrism Mass and from your earlier meeting with him. My impression was that the final redacted chapter of the Murphy Report will be released. I share your view that the changes that have taken place are only a beginning and that the work of safeguarding and healing must continue."

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny - "The Taoiseach has noted the points you raised. He has copied your correspondence to his colleague Mr. Alan Shatter T.D., Minister for Justice and Equality for his consideration"

Mr Alan Shatter T.D, Minister for Justice via Secretary - "The position is that the Chapter 20 material has been withheld from publication on foot of a direction from the High Court in accordance with proceedings under section 38 of the Commissions of Investigation Act. These proceedings are due to be heard again in Court on 11 June. I can assure you the Minister is anxious to see that part of the report published as quickly as possible subject to the requirements of the legislation."

I have now written again, to Alan Shatter, TD - Minister for Justice, requesting that the final redacted chapter, Chapter 20 of the Murphy report be released earlier than the 11th of June. I have also requested that prior to publication, myself, and the other affected parties, are permitted to see the relevant contents.

By signing my petition CLICK HERE TO SIGN, you are helping me to keep pressure on the Government of Ireland to release this incredibly important document in a timely manner. Please help.

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who has helped me so far.....

Thank you to everyone who has signed my online petition for Ireland to release Chapter 20 of The Murphy Report. Your support is amazing.

If you would like to sign it - PLEASE CLICK HERE!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Please sign my online petition, Ireland - Release Chapter 20 of the Murphy Report.

Bittersweet emotions. The past week has been tough.

The bicycle - Albert Einstein

I had imagined this post-trial period would be different. Since 2003 the judicial process was underway.The culmination of this process would hopefully give me a different view of my life. For me, the trial and the release of the Murphy report went hand in hand, as I was led to believe that it would be published straight after. I am disappointed that this has not happened, in fact it’s much greater than disappointment. There have been difficult times over the last 2 weeks.

I didn't think for one minute that the trial was going to be some magic bullet and my life would suddenly become ‘normal'. I did, however think this time would be different from before. Maybe if the petition wasn’t running then it would be. We are where we are.

I am also reminded that there is goodness within people that perhaps I never knew existed to the extent I do now. Friends, Family, Phil and people I have never met, are taking time to sign the petition and share it with those around them. People I have never met are taking time to send messages of support and contained within those messages is a greater awareness around the subject of sexual abuse. This of course is central to me waiving my right to anonymity, and central to my campaign in having the Murphy Report released in its entirety.

I feel so encouraged by the support and I know I must continue. With great appreciation to everyone and a renewed vigour we will reach our target together.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

10,000 mile Road to Change - One brave man's amazing challenge to help stop child sexual abuse.

The Road to Change is a 10,000mile walk visiting 31 of the capital cities in the European Union (EU) by foot, to raise awareness about child sexual abuse (CSA) build solidarity between organizations and communities, support survivors, and influence social and political change. Matthew McVarish, European Ambassador for ‘Stop the silence, stop child sexual abuse inc’ in Washington DC, will be walking the road to change alone. The road begins in London, starting on May 31st 2013, and ends in Edinburgh February 2015, 18 months later. .  10,000 MILES!

Matthew's 10,000 mile route.

Matthew on a previous challenge

Matthew needs your support. Whether you can offer him corporate sponsorship or a private donation (no matter how small!), please do. If you are anywhere on his route - why not offer him a bed for the night, or even join in and walk a section of his gruelling trek with him!

You can find all the information you might need on his website: ROAD TO CHANGE

A breath of fresh air......

Thank you for all your support thus far. Much appreciated, James

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Word cloud - Chapter 20 - Murphy Report

Word cloud - made from the (thus far) known contents of Chapter 20 of the Murphy Report. Will be interesting to see how this changes once the full contents are revealed. It will be nice to see the word 'redacted' no longer feature......

Friday, 5 April 2013

New! Online petition for the release of Chapter 20 of the Murphy Report.


Chapter 20 is the last remaining, censored chapter in Judge Yvonne Murphy's report into the handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations by the Catholic Church and State. 
Chapter 20 has remained censored on foot of a High Court direction that its full publication could damage the trial of a defrocked priest charged with the sexual assault of children in the 1970s and 80s.
Former priest Patrick McCabe was sentenced last month by the Circuit Criminal Court. As a result of his trial, there is now no further need for the blanked-out chapter to remain secret.
My name is James Moran, and I am one of the survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of McCabe. I made a statement to Archbishops House in 1977. I made a statement to the Gardai (Irish Police) in 1987. Both statements were about my sexual abuse by Priests. My statements surfaced in 2003.
The Murphy Report will reveal the truth about why my statements lay undiscovered for several decades. During these years Patrick McCabe was allowed to travel abroad undetected and unmonitored.
I, and the other victims of Patrick McCabe have a right to know what is contained within Chapter 20, in order to put that part of our life’s jigsaw together. The victim’s lives are now in the public domain through the Murphy Report and we have a right, by association, to know the truths contained within.
37 Years is a lifetime of waiting. Enough is enough.

CLICK HERE to sign my petition now.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Irish Times article 02 April 2013 - Misplaced guilt.

Irish Times - 02 April 2013 - CLICK TO READ
The destructive power of unjustified guilt in sex abuse cases has been demonstrated again and again. Last month we saw yet another example when a former priest, Patrick McCabe, was convicted of sexually abusing two boys in the 1970s.
One of the telling aspects of the case was a statement by one of the victims, now 50, who said that in the aftermath of the abuse he felt he had failed his family.

I think it is of great importance for those who are abused and for their relatives to understand that inappropriate guilt is a feature of these acts of criminality both for abused children and for adults who are sexually abused by other adults. The destructive effects of such emotions are mentioned again and again in the aftermath of abuse cases. It may be that sense of guilt and shame that drives some abused people towards suicide or other self-destructive behaviours.

Sexual abuse is a shameful act and there is something in us as humans that feels tainted even though we have been the unwilling objects of a shameful act by another. This may be due to our psychological defensive system. Imagine that you provide security for a building and that the building is robbed. The guilt for this act belongs to those who have planned and carried out the robbery. But a focus of the inquiry that immediately begins will be, why didn’t the defences work? One could even imagine the person who was in charge of the security system feeling a certain amount of inappropriate guilt about the robbery. This is an example of how being the victim of abuse could actually lead a person to feel a sense of inappropriate guilt.

Possible culprit
The other possible culprit for this sense of inappropriate guilt is that part of the mind which is so quick to go on the attack when anything goes wrong.
Notice some of the really harsh things you say to yourself over the smallest mistakes or stumbles in your day. Most of us, if we really listen to these things and reflect on them can be astonished by the harshness of these self judgements. In my opinion, these harsh self judgements play a role in depression and suicide – and indeed we very often hear of suicidal thinking and suicidal behaviour as a feature of the damage done by sexual abusers. That harsh critic in the mind will attack the person who has been subjected to sexual abuse. This critic has nothing to do with conscience or indeed with logic. It can be irrational and cruel and all the more distressing for all of that. And because sexuality is at the very depth of our being that voice of guilt and of shame can be astonishingly deep.

One of the victims of McCabe said he had “experienced every emotion associated with self-loathing”. Even worse than that, perhaps, this man feels guilt for the deaths of his parents when they were only in their 50s and who seem to have suffered from that same poisonous, inappropriate guilt. “They had tried to give me a good foundation for my future and instead they felt responsible for sending me into a lion’s den,” he told the court in his victim impact statement. The part of the mind would attack you in this way was called by Freud “the superego”. It is terribly important to understand that the superego is an irrational, malfunctioning and dangerous part of the mind. 

Painful feature
What is worth taking out of all this is the realisation that persons subjected to abuse, assault and especially sexual exploitation suffer enormously from inappropriate guilt and shame. It is important that the persons feeling this guilt and shame understand that it is inappropriate and that they should not allow this to stop them from seeking help. It is also very important that those who seek to support such persons be aware of this very destructive and very painful feature of abuse.

Padraig O’Morain ( is a counsellor accredited by the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. His Light Mind – Mindfulness for Daily Living book is published by Veritas. His monthly mindfulness newsletter is available free by email