Women Recount Their Sexual Ordeal & Survival At The Hands Of Catholic Nuns

The scope of the abuse of nuns by clergy members first came to light at the beginning of February of the monthly Vatican magazine “Women Church World.”

The edition included Pope Francis’ own take on the scandal — long known about by the Vatican but virtually never discussed in which he blamed the unchecked power wielded by priests and higher clergy across the Catholic Church for such crimes.

In some cases, according to one of the reports, nuns, through naiveté or social conditioning to obey authority figures, may readily comply with sexual demands.

READ ALSO: SHOCKER! Child Sexual Abuse In The Vatican

Although the problem has not been aired in public for years, two women, Patricia “Trish” Cahill and Anne Gleeson have come out to narrate their abuse in the hands of nuns in this documentary by Huffington Post.

The survivors say that amidst the well-documented scandal of widespread abuse of boys by priests, their traumas have been overlooked.

Patricia and Gleeson were teenagers when the abuse began and although they grew up in different cities, the grooming and manipulation conducted by the nuns they say abused them sound eerily and tragically similar.

Anne Gleeson tells HuffPost:

“It’s a spiritual rape, it really is. It steals your faith. I envy people who have faith. Nuns kind of get a free ride,” says Gleeson, who said her abuse at the hands of Sister Judith Fisher, her 8th grade homeroom teacher at a Catholic school in suburban St. Louis, began when she was 13.

“She always, always described it as ‘God’s love’ — ‘this is God’s love, nobody else is going to understand it. You think of women as being nurturing, and you trust them more.

And when it’s done gently, and sweetly, and they paint it to your benefit, you believe it. It’s a true form of brainwashing. I have to believe that, because how else could I have been so blinded?”

READ ALSO: Shocking Confession Of 45-Year-Old Nigerian Man Who Sexually Abused Househelp For Years, Aided By His Wife |Video

Patricia added that her abuser, Sister Eileen Shaw, whom she met while a student in Catholic school in New Jersey, started to abuse her when she was 15 and Shaw was 36. She narrated:

“She had taken the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. She stole from my body, my mind and my soul. The woman was a thief who did not keep her vows.

“The boys thought they were the only ones for a hundred years. The girls [who were abused] think they’re the only ones. They don’t have any other survivors to see.”

Patricia, already was a victim, alleging that she earlier had been raped by her uncle, a priest. As an adult alcoholic, Patricia initially blamed her drinking on that incident. She continues:

“And yet [Shaw] was the first person that gave me alcohol and drugs. Continually”.

She recalls that while in a 12-step program, she deliberately protected Shaw by initially refusing to talk about her. She further disclosed:

“My sponsors, they were the first ones that said ‘this is not a relationship.’ I thought they were crazy. She told me she loved me. She bought me presents. She took me all over alone, camping, sleeping in the same sleeping bag. They said, ‘That’s not a relationship. That’s sex.’”

After Patricia reported her abuse by Shaw in 1994 to the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, she was paid a $70,000 out-of-court settlement, reports CBS News.

A response from the Sisters of Charity obtained by HuffPost says an investigation by the congregation’s response team “substantiated the sister’s improper conduct,” and that Shaw who died in 2004 before she could provide a deposition in a lawsuit filed by Gleeson, had been removed from ministry and barred from working with anyone under age 21.

“She accepts responsibility for her actions and the harm that they have caused. She continues to pray daily about this,” it said.

Gleeson further says:

“I wished that I could get some answers, that we could talk about it, that she could come clean. It wasn’t the money that I was after. It was some closure.”

In addition, Gleeson says she twice tried to kill herself. Once in high school, and again in college. Not until her early 40s did a therapist push Gleeson to confront the question: “Oh my God, could it be that it really was abuse?”

“I feel strong enough to tell my story right now because there’s not a lot to lose,” says Gleeson. “I can’t imagine something happening to me in life that would hurt me like this has.”

“If I should die tomorrow I’d be sad if I had not spoken when I could have, if there’s some kid or parent that would hear me, ’cause it’s real and it’s the kind of wound that stays no matter how strong you are, no matter how much therapy you get, no matter how many loves you have, or diversions, or excuses.”


Photo credit: HuffPost

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