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Finding Healing

Regrettably, numerous survivors of clergy sexual abuse find themselves navigating through life without the prospect of healing. Our mission at Tentmakers of Louisiana (TentMakers) is to restore the essence of life by instilling hope and facilitating healing. We understand that true joy cannot be experienced without recovering from trauma. In the culturally significant region of South Louisiana, where the Catholic faith holds prominence, reminders of betrayal, hurt, and sorrow persist for those who have endured clergy sexual abuse. By raising awareness among families and communities about the challenges and isolation victims face, we aspire to bring back abundant life and joy to those affected by this traumatic experience.

The dynamics of our Catholic Faith can be overwhelming, even for practicing Catholics. Survivors and their families must comprehend the principles of Catholicism and the distinctive trauma caused by clergy sex abuse. Louisiana, known for its deep-rooted Catholic culture preceding its incorporation into the United States, manifests Catholic influences throughout its traditions. Our flag bears the symbol of a pelican, as do Catholic altars, while the fleur-de-lis is associated with the Virgin Mary. Catholic saints’ names adorn public schools, and even our renowned football team, the Saints, pays homage to the saints of the Catholic Church. Influential Catholic individuals have shaped many cities, communities, and governments. Families of prestige would often send their sons to become priests, a position that brought honor to the family and the ordained young men. Tragically, many individuals ordained to be spiritual guides became predators, victimizing boys, girls, men, and women over the years. To avoid tarnishing their reputation, numerous families and communities chose to tolerate or turn a blind eye to the abuse. However, with each instance of ignoring the truth, someone suffers profound harm and rarely receives justice. Educating Catholics and non-Catholics is essential in pursuing justice and healing.

Through our efforts at TentMakers, we strive to fulfill the mission of life by providing survivors of clergy sexual abuse with the hope of healing and restoring the joy stolen from them. We believe that raising awareness, fostering understanding, and advocating for justice can facilitate the healing process for individuals and communities affected by this profound betrayal. Our organization is committed to educating both Catholic and non-Catholic communities, acknowledging the unique challenges faced by survivors within the context of their faith, and working towards a future where healing, justice, and a renewed sense of abundant life prevail for all.

Understanding Trauma:
What It Is

What is trauma? According to Trauma Recovery Associates’ Introduction to the Trauma Model, trauma refers to an event or series of events that, when combined with an individual’s vulnerability, hinder normal human development.

While everyone will experience something traumatic at some point in their lives, how they process and cope with it truly matters. So finding a Specialized Counselor is essential.

Closeup of a sculpture of Themis, mythological Greek goddess, symbol of justice, blind and holding empty balance in her hand
group of four people in front of sunset

The Normal Response to Trauma:
Selecting a Specialized Counselor

Do I need to find a specialized counselor? Yes, it is crucial to seek out a counselor who possesses a solid understanding of the effects of trauma. In the case of Catholic clergy abuse, there are specific issues related to spiritual abuse in addition to sexual abuse. Trauma Recovery Associates states that the effects of trauma include, but are not limited to:

  • Difficulty in forming and maintaining relationships (either a strong need for closeness or an aversion to getting close to others).
  • Discomfort with emotions, often resulting in efforts to avoid them altogether.
  • Unhealthy habits, addictions, and self-harm as coping mechanisms.
  • Delayed grief stemming from childhood experiences and a sense of loss.
  • Feeling powerless or victimized in situations beyond the original traumatic event.

When dealing with trauma, it is essential for victims and their families to seek out a counselor who has received specialized training in this area. Ideally, the chosen counselor should possess a comprehensive understanding of the unique challenges associated with Catholic clergy sexual abuse and the effects of trauma. While extensive knowledge of the Catholic faith is not a requirement, trauma-trained counselors are well-equipped to help victims navigate their trauma and find resolution.

Helpful Resource Links

Accredited Sexual Assault Centers in Louisiana

Hearts of Hope

Acadiana Area

Sexual Trauma Awareness & Response (STAR)

Central Louisiana Branch

Alexandria and the Surrounding Area

Capital Area Branch

Baton Rouge Area

Greater New Orleans Branch

New Orleans and Surrounding Area

Oasis Sexual Violence Program

Southwest Louisiana Area

The Wellspring

Northeast Louisiana Area