Victim Impact Statement: 'Today is about truth'

 

TODAY IS about justice, today is about truth. It has taken me over 20 years to break the silence, such was the deep sense of shame I felt about the abuse.

From the time of the initial reporting of the abuse, another period of almost five years has elapsed. All these years have been filled with struggle and pain on a number of levels. In important ways, my life has been on hold.

The truth is that I was sexually abused by Brendan Wrixon when I was a teenager. I was wronged in a very serious way. He was the adult and I was the young teenager. He should have known better.

As a priest, his role was to be a guide and a witness to Christian values. It was made all the more difficult because he was a family friend.

This process has been very painful and difficult for me and for my family. It has taken me many years to face up to what happened to me as a teenager. I and my family have felt deeply hurt and impacted by his behaviour.

We have also felt deeply hurt and let down by our clergy, especially those in positions of responsibility who were unwilling to understand or listen to me or respond in any meaningful way to what I needed for my healing and wellbeing. Their response was about protecting the institution rather than the individual. I believe that the Gospel message and its values were ignored. I had to fight for the truth to be heard. The Church that stood for truth didn’t help me. There are some people even today who still refuse to believe what happened to me – such is the power of denial around issues of sexual abuse.

The abuse has cast a dark shadow over my life, it has affected my confidence and my emotional wellbeing. It has taken me a long time to find my own voice again.

The experience of abuse has affected my concentration, made me feel isolated and has left me with an awful sense of shame about what has happened.

Close personal relationships continue to be a problem area in my life.

I have been attending a counsellor for the last five years and continue to do so; deep hurt and broken trust takes a long time to recover from.

Finally, I would like to thank my family, close friends, my counsellor and the gardaí for all their support and help over the years.

I would never wish for anyone to go through the events that I have experienced but thank God, the truth is heard, witnessed and acknowledged in this courtroom here today.