Information about me

A lot of people who access this website want to know more about me. Who am I? Why did I start doing this? What do I get out of it?

Firstly, I'm a perfectly ordinary person - in my 30s, one child, a bit shy. Never in my wildest dreams did I picture myself doing anything vaguely approaching activist work. Catch me chaining myself to a tree for a cause?? No way! But it turns out it's simply a matter of believing in the cause, and being angry enough about the system to want to change it. Even so, what I do has come about simply by being in the right place, at the right time, with the right knowledge and a gift for expressing what I feel.

If you read my story you'll discover that I'm a survivor of clergy abuse. It messed up my life way beyond what I could realise, and when I did finally realise I went to the church, assuming they'd treat me with compassion and understanding. Big mistake! One that many (probably most, if not all) victims make when they approach the church. Of course, it's perfectly understandable. We who were brought up in the church were taught to believe that the church embodied the compassion and justice of Christ. It doesn't. It operates as a business, and it's governed by legal constraints and dollar values. And I found myself saying, many times over, "I wish I'd known ... before I started." That was the thought that prompted me to begin the website. The idea of bringing together all the bits of knowledge that I'd so painfully, and too late, acquired. A vague concept turned into an achievable dream, which turned into a reality, which grew far beyond my original concept. Even now, I have more things to add to the website than time or energy to do it with, and ideas keep on coming.

Then I found myself (call it force of circumstances, call it destiny, call it whatever you wish) giving evidence at the Wood Royal Commission (the paedophile inquiry). And it turned out I had a gift for articulating what victims feel without losing the objectivity that puts those feelings in context. So people started asking me to speak as a victim and tell my story, tell what it's like. Media, church groups, child sexual abuse victim advocacy groups... And other victims, needing support, found my website and emailed me. So began my career as a speaker and advocate. I find a certain irony in the knowledge that one of the things that makes me a good speaker was the training in public Bible reading given to me by my abuser!

I suppose I've achieved a certain public notoriety, albeit in a field that tends to stop conversation dead. Picture a party: "so, what do you do?" "I speak and advocate for clergy sexual abuse victims." "Oh." End of conversation. Or you get the really weird reactions: like the time I mentioned to a receptionist at Festival of Light (Fred Nile's organisation) that I'm a clergy abuse survivor, and she didn't even know what clergy sexual abuse was. So much for Christians being sympathetic - some of them haven't even heard of the problem! Or the email I received from "Terence the Messiah". Hey, I've hit the big time - even the Messiah's emailing me. Can't go far wrong there!

But it's the people who email me, sometimes not saying anything more than "thanks for your website", that really make it all worthwhile. I don't need to know anything more than that. Someone, somewhere, found my website helpful, or encouraging, or just plain useful. And it made them feel less alone. That's what I'm here for, and why I'll continue to do what I do.

Clare

 

Postscript:  Many victims need some kind of spiritual closure that - at the present time - isn't offered by the church.  In May 2003, with permission from the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, I performed a private rite of healing in the locations where I was abused.  The form and wording of that rite is online here.

 

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