Articles and Reflections

Free

Spirit Fire posts many articles by Teresa online here for reuse without charge, subject only to attribution and other terms found here.

When Someone You Love is Sexually Abused

For every survivor of abuse or trauma, there is a network of people who feel the impact by one or more degree of separation. What is some of the thinking in current literature and practice that can begin to offer insights into the hardly noticed burden of those in relation to survivors?  (First published in Orthodoxy in Dialogue, March 15, 2018 – Republished in The Healing Voices Magazine, Mar 29, 2018)

Vicarious Trauma, Secondary Victims

What is vicarious trauma? How does its effects vary among health-care professionals, emergency response experts and those who love survivors of child abuse? What are reflections drawn from our faith for a trauma-informed ministry caring for secondary victims of trauma and abuse? (Published in The Healing Voices Magazine 3, Mar 5, 2018)

Making Distinctions after the Trauma of Child Sexual Abuse

We unlearn what abusers teach, using lies to groom us and authority to confuse us enough to believe the lies. We learn that all surrender is not annihilation and that, unlike the abuser who manipulates and destroys free choice, the Lord will permit us to choose whether to take the next step in healing over and over and over again. (First published in Orthodoxy in Dialogue, Feb 4, 2018)

Many Wounds, One Savior

The Church bears the wounds of all survivors of abuse within the Church–not only in moral terms, of course, but in a way that, also, deserves awareness, attention and care. This is yet another way that faith stories, shared among us, become testimonies as a community to the Lord’s favor and grace–and how the Good News is needed by all. (First published in Orthodoxy in Dialogue, Jan 17, 2018 – Republished in The Healing Voices Magazine, Jan 24, 2018)

Fellow Travelers

The Epiphany is a source of grace and understanding for Christians, particularly Catholics, who don’t know how to support adult survivors of child abuse by clergy and others in authority. Here are three reasons why traveling together spiritually is hard – and three reflections to make mutual support easier. (Published in The Healing Voices Magazine 3, Jan 7, 2018)

Our Beginning

Hinting at distinctions between therapeutic recovery with and without a strong faith element, a reflection on T.S. Eliot’s poem, Little Gidding, considers two ways to look at returning to one’s beginning–one earth-bound without faith, one in the context of eternity. (The Healing Voices Magazine 2, no 6, Oct 2017)

Strength-Based Leaders: An Affirming and Successful Approach for Supporting Victims’ Recovery and New Life  

Introduction to the strength-based approach currently being used in the majority of human-trafficking victims’ programs and now gaining footing in treatment and care for all other victims of abuse or violence as children or adults. (First published in the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force newsletter, Aug 15, 2017)

Impossible Prayer

Survivors and family members grieving in the wake of child sexual abuse often don’t notice their bond with God. (Published in The Healing Voices Magazine 2, no 5, July 2017)

Round Table: Bishops Mass of Prayer and Penance, Ibid.

Survivors share reflections on the Mass of Prayer and Penance held in Indianapolis, Indiana 2017.

First Encounter: What Do Liberated Victims First Encounter in Victim Services?, The Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force Newsletter (June 15, 2017).

Scenarios for how freed victims of human trafficking in Northern Virginia are processed with compassion, including interviews with two professionals on the front lines of care.

Rosary Beads, The Healing Voices Magazine 2, no 4 (May 2017).

An argument for keeping a rosary in your pocket, even if you don’t pray the rosary (yet).

Pinwheels, Ibid., no 2 (March 2017).

What do pinwheels, which are symbols of child protection and child-abuse prevention, have to do with child protection and child-abuse prevention? Don’t they seem oxymoronic?

The Way: Healing Retreat for Survivors of Abuse, Ibid.

A review of a three-day retreat program developed by the Archdiocese of Atlanta and offered by its Victim Assistance Coordinator for survivors from around the country. (Part of a series of critiques of the few retreat programs for survivors and family members.)

Round Table : The Resignation of Marie Collins, Ibid.

Co-founders and contributors to The Healing Voices Magazine respond to the resignation of Marie Collins.

Mutual Healing in Dialogue, Ibid.

We were wounded in relationships, and must heal in relationships, both sides of the dialogue — survivors and family members on one side, and the Church on the other. For this, we need each other.

Do’s and Don’ts in Survivor Ministry (infographic), Ibid., no 1 (February 2017).

A FAVORITE DOWNLOAD: My unique infographic for the do’s and don’ts when interacting with a survivor of abuse or trauma, or a person with mental illness or otherwise grappling with chronic illness, and their family members. 

Every Precious One, Ibid.

A review of the book Acts of Recovery: The Story of One Man’s Journey Toward Healing from Sexual Abuse by a Priest, by Michael D. Hoffman, which focuses on themes of resilience and involvement in Church as a wounded healer.

Soar Like Eagles, Ibid.

What was it like to make that first call to the Victim Assistance program in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia? It wasn’t pretty.

Light in Darkness: On Challenge of Christmas and Grief, Ibid., no 7 (December 2016).

A different look at the idea, however cliche it may seem in the sometimes-despair of holidays, that in our darkness God is Light.

Lamp, Lightpost, Ladder, Ibid.

A review of the book Shrinking the Monster: Healing the Wounds of Our Abuse, by Norbert Krapf, with a focus on how this work chronicles the author’s journey remembering abuse while writing a book of poems–and how creativity is often a Spirit-infused way through the darkness.

Round Table : Fondest Childhood Memories at Christmas, Ibid.

Co-founders of The Healing Voices Magazine reflect on memories of Christmas that add range to difficult childhood memories, which are a constantly evolving mix and unique to each survivor.

Exercise Your Muscle Memory, Ibid., no 6 (November 2016).

A review of what muscle memory is and how it plays a pivotal role in successful therapy and recovery from child abuse of any kind – as well as trauma from violence and post-traumatic stress.

McGee the Dog : How a Homeless Dog Rescued Me from My Own Triggers, Ibid., no 5 (September 2016).

How caring for a feral dog in need was the most effective way to learn about how to manage my own trigger-memories.

Round Table: How We Have Remained Catholic, Ibid., no 4 (July 2016).

Co-founders of The Healing Voices Magazine share why and how they remained Catholic.

Faith in Primary Colors: Hard-Won Wisdom and Faith Insights, Ibid.

Struggles in recovery and with adult life in the aftermath of child abuse are greatly aided by Scripture, which encompasses the life-and-death choices many people of faith have no yet encountered.

Intervention for My Generation: Digital Work Opportunities, Facebook (May 2016).

Digital opportunities for survivors of abuse can be helpful, as flexible work schedules can ease some stress that often triggers difficult emotional states. This think piece speaks to employers and those who should embrace the digital age and its opportunities.

Changing Hearts: The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of MinorsThe Healing Voices Magazine 1, no 3 (May 2016).

Why the pace of change in a massive institution doesn’t constrain us from the call, as wounded healers., to offer healing and reconciliation here and now, in relationships with family, priests, sisters, deacons and all Catholics. 

Faith : Strong Footing for Rough Going, Ibid.

It’s a rough world out there, indeed, a Valley of Tears. Faith is what will get you through, even during darkest hours related to abuse.

Child Protection: First Step in Reconciliation, Ibid., no 2 (April 2016).

Survivors of clergy abuse need to know the Church is serious about protecting children and young people before being comfortable exploring a reconciled relationship is even possible. In that the Church in the United States has made big strides.

Round Table: Spotlight, the Film, Ibid., no 2 (March 2016).

Co-founders of The Healing Voices Magazine share reflections on the release of the movie Spotlight.

Open Letter to Victim Assistance Coordinators, sent November 2015.

A note of gratitude and encouragement in the season of Advent.

My Conversion StoryOur Sunday Visitor (March 2015).

In a series of stories about conversion, my story of returning to the faith was included.

Why Consider Returning to a Faith that Betrayed Us? Healing, Learning and Growing (Archdiocese of Chicago newsletter) 4, no 2 (November 2014).

A gentle suggestion why returning to Catholicism is important for survivors — and those whom they love, also known as a invitation to a mature faith rich because of, not despite, suffering.

BlessedCatholic Social Workers National Association newsletter (February 2014).

For social workers, a reflection about being able to integrate faith with recovery from abuse.

Good Friday for Survivors of Abuse, Posted on Arlington Diocese Victim Assistance Website in Spanish and English. April 31, 2012.

Making Distinctions, (adapted from first pub in) Healing, Learning and Growing (Archdiocese of Chicago newsletter) 1, no 4 (November 2011).

MOST REPRINTED ARTICLE: The process of healing from clergy abuse is a process of making distinctions where we had seen none; between surrender and annihilation, between priest and predator.

Homecoming, The Arlington Herald (approx. June 2010). Reprinted insidecatholic.com and catholicity.com.

What is the homecoming like? Why? How? After so much pain, abandonment and betrayal?

Survivor Reflection: Safe, Alone in a Chapel, Ibid. (approx. August 2009).

A reflection on the unexpected experience of feeling safe in a Catholic chapel during a retreat for survivors.

A Different Kind of Bishop, Ibid. (approx. 2008).

A brief snapshot of a bishop’s presence in a survivor’s early exploration of a deeper commitment to faith.

First Year: A Survivor in Arlington Diocese, Ibid. (approx. 2003-2004).

Interviews  Given

A Guide Through the Darkness, by Katie Scott. The Arlington Catholic Herald, July 30, 2014 (accessed 10/23/17). Arlington, Virginia.

Rev. Lewis S. Fiorelli, OSFS, co-author of Veronica’s Veil, interviewed about his work with survivors.

Faith Reclaimed: How Survivors of Clergy Abuse Return to the Church, by Katie Scott. Catholic Sentinel, August 29, 2017 (acc 10/23/17). Portland, Oregon.

Profile of several Catholic survivors of clergy abuse, featuring selected resources. 

So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me empty, but shall do what pleases me, achieving the end for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:11 NABRE