SNAP Connecticut
Survivors' Voices



Sex Abuse Victim's Comment on New SNAP Chapter
By Landa Mauriello-Vernon, Survivor and Director of SNAP CT

It has been long in coming, but Connecticut finally has it's own chapter of SNAP.

No longer will survivors of sexual abuse by a clergy member be forced to travel to New York or Massachusetts to find a support group meeting. We are here, we are strong, and we have much to accomplish and to offer.

We will give survivors of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy a safe place to come and be supported. We will listen to you when you need to talk, offer our shoulder when you need to cry, and help you find your voice when it is lost. Recovery is a long road and one that is better traveled with others on the same journey.

No longer will the Bishops of Connecticut be allowed to hide behind public relations personnel. We will hold them accountable for their decisions to leave abusive priests, not only in ministry, but also in the presence of young children and adults in need. We will hold them to the standards that they set for themselves in Dallas in 2002 even though those standards are quite minimal. We will be there asking questions that need to be answered and speaking for those who may not be able to speak for themselves.

We will be speaking out to the public. It is important that the public understands not only the pain, but also the great loss that survivors have suffered. While some of us still practice our faith, many of us have been robbed of it. Many of us can't attend the wedding of a friend or a funeral of a loved one that has passed away. It is simply not a safe place for us to be and many of us can't bear the memories.

We will continue to stand up for our children and their safety. It is no longer acceptable to let a priest leave ministry and set up a new life in a neighborhood, only to get a job in a school and continue to be around young and vulnerable children. This only creates a new generation of victims. The Church leaders need to apply common sense and decency in keeping children safe, not protecting the abusers. When a sexual predator who used to be a priest moves into a community, that community has a need and a right to know. The idea that it is someone else's problem is no longer a viable option for the Church hierarchy.

Lastly, we will demand from the Church leaders that they uphold the same basic morals and values that they preach from the pulpit on Sunday mornings. When they offer pastoral care, it should come from a place of understanding and compassion. This care shouldn't have strings attached. These strings of confidentiality, guilt, and shame are being cut away and dismissed by survivors. We were the victims, not the offenders. If the Church hierarchy feels the need to shame and condemn others, then they should focus that on those members of the clergy that have been so abusive and offensive to so many innocent members of their Church.

But, above all, like every SNAP self-help chapter across the country, we will focus our energies on helping one another recover from the horrific crimes perpetrated upon us. Collectively, we will gain the strength and courage to continue putting our lives back together and find peace.

SNAP CT will be holding it's support meetings for survivors every 4th Monday of the month beginning on February 23rd from 7-9. Please contact Landa Mauriello-Vernon at lmv125@comcast.net or 203-687-8072 for more information.



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Connecticut SNAP Chapter
URL: http://www.snapct.org/s_voice/lmv_1.htm
Last Updated: May 3, 2004