Women sexual abuse survivors seek inclusion at Catholic Church summit
WARNING: This story contains disturbing details.
As a dozen sexual abuse survivors meet with organizers of a Catholic Church summit at the Vatican this week, women will largely be absent from the discussion.
This doesn’t mean that women have been immune to the abuse, however.
Barbara Dorris is one of the women to be abused at the hands of Church officials. As a child, she was repeatedly raped by a priest who told her she was so evil that she was forcing him to sin.
Dorris is the former executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. She spoke Tuesday at a press conference for female survivors of Catholic Church sex abuse and discussed the difference between how male sex abuse victims are portrayed compared to females.
“The abuse of women and girls has not been the focus of the coverage and when it has, unfortunately words like affair and relationship have been used,” she told reporters on Tuesday.
Among the other speakers was Doris Wagner, who was abused as a nun.
“When I was raped in 2008 by a priest, I thought that I was the only nun to whom that had ever happened,” she said.
Then there’s Mary Dispenza, who at age seven was told to sit on a priest’s lap. She said he then then “put his hands under my panties and into my vagina.”
Dispenza says there was another incident involving a nun when she herself was one.
Earlier this month, Pope Francis acknowledged for the first time that some nuns have been sexually abused by members of the Catholic Church, and that it could still be happening.
A dozen abuse survivors are meeting with summit organizers on Wednesday, before it officially begins the next day. Among the contingent meeting with organizers is Canadian Gemma Hickey.
Victim’s groups are calling for all abusers to have their titles, jobs and salaries taken away, but few expect to see any concrete changes to come out of the summit.