Dawn Eden: Penn State scandal a reminder of abuse victims’ needs
Author Dawn Eden
Author Dawn Eden

.- The Penn State sex abuse scandal is a time both to remember the harm done by abuse and to help abuse victims heal, Catholic writer Dawn Eden said.

“The current stories are heavy on outrage, which is good—the public should be outraged,” Eden wrote Nov. 10 on her blog “The Dawn Patrol.”

“But talking about abuse without giving guidance for those who have suffered it can ultimately re-victimize people who have already been hurt so much—turning them into political footballs, if you will. Those living with the wounds of abuse need to learn that there is hope for healing.”

Priests and other pastoral caregivers should be aware that survivors of childhood sexual abuse are likely to have “highly painful memories” return because of media coverage and they should be prepared to help them.

Eden, the author of the forthcoming Ave Maria Press book “My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints,” said that news stories about abuse can help raise awareness about the “grave harm” of abuse, but the coverage can also cause stress for victims.

Pennsylvania State University trustees fired famed football coach Joe Paterno and the university president Graham Spanier on Nov. 9 for their handling of child sex abuse allegations against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

In 2002 Mike McQueary, a graduate student who later became an assistant football coach, told Paterno that he witnessed Sandusky sexually assault a young boy in a shower at the campus football complex. While Paterno alerted the school’s athletic director, no officials called police. They banned Sandusky from having children from the charity he founded, Second Mile, visit the football building, CNN reports.

In her blog post, Eden stressed victims’ need for healing.

“Christians know that healing is to be found in and through Christ. As a Catholic, I have found the source of healing to be in and through Christ and His Church—in prayer, in the sacraments, and in communion with one another and all the Communion of Saints,” she said.

She suggested that priests and caregivers who respond to abuse victims should help them understand the nature of forgiveness, which Christians must practice. According to Eden, forgiveness differs from reconciliation with abusers, which Christians are not commanded to do.

Those who were abused by their parents or other relatives sometimes fear that their failure to reconcile keeps them from “being right with God.”

In the Catholic Sacrament of Penance, abuse victims who confess resentment towards a family member sometimes receive incomplete advice from their confessors, who do not know the larger context.

“For the penitent who thinks forgiveness requires reconciliation, such an instruction may only aggravate his sense of hopelessness—as though God were ordering him to put himself at risk of further emotional or physical harm,” Eden said.

“The good news is that forgiveness, being an act of grace, does not depend on our own efforts. It is a work accomplished not by us, but in us, through the Holy Spirit that we received in our baptism. Our job is to ask the Spirit to forgive through us, turning our will to make us want God's best for the offender.”

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic

Liturgical Calendar

April 20, 2014


All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 24:13-35


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Second Reading:: Col 3:1-4
Gospel:: Jn 20:1-9

Homily of the Day

Lk 24:13-35


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: