Support groups busy with calls after clergy abuse report

Local

The state attorney general’s office and local support organizations have been busy answering calls since the grand jury report on clergy sex abuse was released this week.

Counselors tell us they’re hearing from survivors, families, and people who are disturbed by the report.

Experts say more and more people are coming forward and asking for help.

“We have had some phone calls from some survivors, some people who are asking why some names they knew about aren’t included in the report,” said Kristen Houser of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.

The report on sex abuse in the Catholic church found more than 1,000 survivors in six Pennsylvania dioceses. 

Angela Liddle, president of Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance, says the report and the attention it received is bringing out different emotions among survivors and their families. 

“You saw people weeping yesterday. It’s a hard thing for them to have to again relive and recount,” said Liddle. “But for some, it’s also a bit liberating and vindicating.”

Houser says some survivors are experiencing some of the anxiety symptoms they haven’t had in decades.

“It’s the documented systemic failure to protect children by trusted adults that makes this so damaging,” said Houser. “Those are the things that often compound the emotional pain that people have.”

It’s why counselors are urging both survivors and their loved ones to reach out for help. 

“Somebody can coach you through how to calm yourself down and feel reconnected in this current time and space,” said Houser.

Liddle says the report is also taking a toll on parents. She shared advice for families moving forward.

“I think it’s prudent for parents to operate on the premise that really wherever their kids are, they have to be vigilant about their safety,” said Liddle. “When your children try to tell you something, believe them.”

Houser says the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape is required by law to be private.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit www.pcar.org or www.nsvrc.org to find resources.

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