June 16, 2010
Cap Haitian, Haiti
During the past few days, I have been speaking with mental health care professionals here in Maine who are experienced in working with victims of child sex abuse from other countries and cultures.
What I have learned most is that traditional psychotherapy won't work for children and adults until certain basic needs are met.
As one clinical social worker told me, "A psychotherapist who travels to a place like Haiti and thinks that all he or she is going to need to do is meet with clients in a private office is mistaken. First, the children who were abused are going to need structure in their lives. They will need food. They will need a safe place to live. They will need to be enrolled in school. The social worker's first job will be to work towards providing the boys with these basic needs."
In a real sense, the "therapy" will have already begun. The boys will quickly recognize that they are being cared for. Actually, it may be a while before the victims are prepared to talk about the actual abuse.
Other professionals told me that the same toxic feelings of shame, guilt, self loathing, remorse, etc. are evident in all children who have been sexually abused, no matter what culture or country they come from.
Thanks to Ruth Moore's collection efforts from survivors and supporters in New England , the 20 or more boys who have reported that they were abused will be provided with a pair of shoes and tuition payments for next year's school term.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/grief-industry-to-the-rescue/article1433336/ (scroll down)
cc: Mike Mayko, Connecticut Post
Joseph Berardino, Trustee, Fairfield University
David Clohessy, Executive Director, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Carolyn Disco, Survivor Support, VOTF NH
Anne Doyle, BishopAccountability.org
Thomas Doyle, O.P., J.C.D.
John Lee Marshall, VOTF Bridgeport
Terry McKiernan, BishopAccountability.org
Ruth Moore, STTOP
Paul Kellen, People of Conscience
Harvey Paul, Director, Maine SNAP
Steve Sheehan, NSACoalition
Michael Sweatt, NSACoalition
Jeffrey von Arx, S.J., President, Fairfield University
Kristine Ward, NSACoalition