“I sued the Catholic Church and won”

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My heart is heavy as I begin this blog because I would much rather share a miracle or a synchronistic story of how God showed up in my life this week. But as I reflect upon this, I know that I am sharing a miracle because of what I have survived – and am thriving – and inspiring others to do the same. I have had several situations this month where I needed to speak my truth when there was emotional abuse.


I humbly share this part of my life with you, not for you to feel sorry for me or to blame someone, but to share what I have learned, how I set myself free and how you can set yourself free from abuse. I couldn’t set myself free until I recognized that I was being abused as an adult.


I was sexually abused by a Catholic priest at the age of 12 years old in New York. Fifty years later, I and several other women who were abused by this priest brought it out into the light to the newspaper and TV. At the time, he was the pastor of his church and denied at the pulpit that he even knew us and told the congregation that we were only out for the money. It was devastating and painful. Not only did he deny the abuse that went on for 2 years, but denied knowing us. It was like being doubly traumatized. It was not easy to stand up to the Catholic Church and be seen and heard.


With the grace of God and support from family, I sued the Catholic Church and WON. The abuse of children had to stop and the only way to do that was through the courts. The lies, denial and continuing abuse had to be brought out into the open. There were many years of meetings with bishops and lawyers for it to be settled. It took a tremendous amount of courage to bring it all up again and realize the life-long effects it had on my life.

When you are abused as a child, it sets you up for abuse in later years of your life. It is like you are a sitting duck and “abusers” smell your vulnerability. It may not be sexual abuse again, but could by emotional or psychological abuse in a relationship or job. This kind of abuse be me more harmful than physical abuse because it can undermine what you think about yourself. It can cripple all you are meant to be as you allow something untrue to define you. The abuser projects their words, attitudes or actions onto an unsuspecting victim usually because they themselves have not dealt with childhood wounds that are now causing them to harm others.


 Some symptoms of emotional abuse are:

Humiliation, degradation, bullying, discounting, negating, judging, criticizing, domination, control, shame, accusing and blaming, trivial and unreasonable demands or expectations, denies own shortcomings, emotional distancing and the “silent treatment” islolation, emotional abandonment or neglect, codependence and enmeshment.




Here are some questions you might ask yourself:


Does anyone make fun of you or put you down in front of others? Do they tease you, use sarcasm as a way to put you down or degrade you? When you complain do they say that “it was just a joke” and that you are too sensitive? Do they tell you that your opinion or feelings are “wrong?” Does anyone regularly ridicule, dismiss, disregard your opinions, thoughts, suggestions, and feelings? Do you feel that the person treats you like a child? Do they constantly correct or chastise you because your behavior is “inappropriate? Do you feel you must “get permission” before going somewhere or before making even small decisions? Do they control your spending? Do they treat you as though you are inferior to them? Do they make you feel as though they are always right? Do they remind you of your shortcomings? Do they belittle your accomplishments, your aspirations, your plans or even who you are? Do they give disapproving, dismissive, contemptuous, or condescending looks, comments, and behavior? Do they accuse you of something contrived in their own minds when you know it isn’t true? Do they have trouble apologizing? Do they make excuses for their behavior or tend to blame others or circumstances for their mistakes? Do they call you names or label you? Do they blame you for their problems or unhappiness? Do they continually have “boundary violations” and disrespect your valid requests? Do they use pouting, withdrawal or withholding attention or affection?


As I look back over my life, I see clearly how emotional abuse continued for years because I didn’t recognize it as abuse because it was so familiar. It took me years to leave a marriage, a Christian community and a job that was abusive. Because of ignorance, fear and not believing in myself, I didn’t have a voice to speak my truth.


Today, I am happy to say that I have a voice and can spot abuse immediately and speak up to people who are abusive. I was determined to be healthy and do whatever I needed to do to heal from the abuse. I went into therapy, did energy work, attended support groups, left the church, forgave the abusers, and read books. You name it, I did it and it was worth it because I have been set free to be the woman God created me to be and to live my dream. Today, I help others to set themselves free.


It has taken me years, but I no longer accept unacceptable behaviors or stay in unhealthy relationships or jobs because I love myself enough and know that I deserve to be treated with respect and kindness, and so do you.


I recently came across a couple of quotes that spoke to my heart. “When all things align and power is at hand, your voice comes surely and strong. And you say what you mean, and the things that you say, are heard as your truth.” Author unknown


“Your soul has its own song. All of your life lessons help you get back in touch with the music of your soul. Authentic self-expression brings healing, release, and relief. Remember your song, and you will become magnetic and compelling. You will also find peace within yourself.” Alan Cohen – Wisdom of the Heart


It is good to see the TRUTH of who I am and who I have become. I am a strong, loving, spiritual woman of God who follows her heart and intuition. Today my voice is heard and I sing my song and the music of my soul. It is so empowering to speak up when I need to and stay away from toxic people.


I encourage you to see the truth of who you are and where you have come from.


I am so committed to my spiritual growth of transformation and seeing what needs to be changed in me that I had forgotten how strong I really am. I am wondering if that is true for you also.


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Pat Hastings

Author, Inspirational Speaker, Spiritual Coach, Retreat Leader & Radio Talk Show Host

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