Victims of Sexual Abuse by Nuns Are Speaking Out

Photo Credits: Mercury News

Besides Catholic priests there are also Catholic nuns with credible allegations of abuse against children, but it seems like their victims are not getting enough visibility, When the media reports about abuse in the Church it is almost always about the priests. Nuns may be even more difficult to prosecute because women are not seen as abuser in general and nuns are usually out of the media spotlight that is focused on abusive priests. Besides all the obstacles that exist for survivors of abuse from Catholic officials, girls who have been abused by nuns run the risk of being shamed for taking part in a "lesbian" relationship, even though it is not consensual and it can't be called a relationship.

One of the victims, Patricia Cahill, was 15 when she received an unexpected request from a nun — who taught at a Catholic high school near her home in Ridgewood, N.J.— to perform at an upcoming "hootenanny" Mass. Cahill grew up in an Irish Catholic family and attended parochial schools so she felt flattered by the nun's attention, and her family welcomed her into their home. Then, according to National Public Radio, during an outing to a house at the Jersey shore, Cahill said the nun gave her tea laced with intoxicants.

"She took me into the bedroom and I passed out," Cahill said. "I was not conscious. I was not able to make a decision." She said this was the first time the religious sister sexually assaulted her, and the start of an abusive dynamic that would last for more than a decade.

As a consequence of this abuse Cahill has struggled with PTSD and addiction to drugs and alcohol for decades. Today, in her late 60s, she is sober and living in a friend's guest room remembering the abuse. At least she received a $70,000 out-of-court settlement from the Church and the nun who abused her was booted from her position. Not every survivor has the chance to get any justice at all. This is why the awareness that sexual abuse by religious sisters exists and happens should be raised.

As National Public Radio reports on May 9, Pope Francis changed the Roman Catholic Church's position of treating allegations against nuns as separate from that of diocesan priests and issued a new decree requiring allegations against members of male and female religious orders be reported to church leadership. It goes into effect June 1.

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