Friday, March 1, 2013

Voices Set Free Outreach Project

Virginia Jones, the co-founder of Compassionate Gathering, and Louise Bauschard, the founder of Voices Set Free, are announcing a joint venture, the Voices Set Free Outreach Project.  We will be filming stories of survivors and posting them to You Tube.  Our first goal is to provide each person a small measure of justice of by enabling him or her to share their stories to a wider audience in a supportive venue.  Our second goal is to educate the general public about the long lasting and traumatic nature of the wounds of the various forms of abuse.  Our third goal is to nurture among individuals and within the wider community, a sense of connection between survivors.  When officers are called to a domestic disturbance, they are required to investigate for child abuse because the two abuses often accompany each other.  When called to investigate child abuse, however, the police are not required to investigate for domestic violence.  Once we are abused, our boundaries are punctured; we lose the ability to protect ourselves.  We accept the abuse in our relationships and often repeat the pattern in various forms.  To reduce abuse in our society, we must increase our awareness of the sources and symptoms of abuse, of the interconnectedness between various forms of abuse, and find ways to heal ourselves and support one another along the healing journey so that we stop the cycle.

We begin our journey with the story of Lydia Wakefield Hubbard, who survived incest by her father from the age of 4 to the age of 17.  Lydia's father told her to keep his abuses secret, which she did for many years.  When she began speaking about these abuses in her forties,
Lydia spoke of them only in private.  More recently she began speaking in public.  She is now 80 years old and remains passionate about telling her truth out about abuse.  Here is her story in three parts.

Part One:

Par Two:

Part Three:

If you want to share your story on video, contact Virginia Jones at compassion500@gmail com or Louise Baushcard at

Virginia is a survivor of child sex abuse and date rape who was baptized by a Catholic priest who was removed from ministry nine months later after a boy he had abused more than twenty years before came forward.  Virginia witnessed firsthand the how both the leadership and the people of the Church struggled to open up to the issue of clergy abuse and support survivors.  At first parishioners clung to the Church seeking answers, but when those answers never came, one-third of parishioners either moved to another parish or left the Catholic Church.  Virginia saw how the whole community was wounded by abuse and how the whole community needs to be brought into the healing process.  She later began working to support clergy abuse survivors with Elizabeth Goeke who is a survivor, a former nun, and a clinical counselor.  The two women co-founded Compassionate Gathering to raise awareness about abuse and to provide individual and community healing opportunities.

Louise is a non-survivor, and has an MSW from Washington University in St. Louis, MO, 1976. After graduation she opened, with several other students, the Women Self Help Center where she soon found  herself fielding calls from domestic and sexual assault survivors. It was during this time that Louise also began encountering battered women charged with crimes stemming from abusive relationships. She traveled to Missouri Prisons for twelve years to visit a number of life sentenced women providing support groups and advocacy wherever possible. Louise also attended a number of trials where she witnessed women receiving convictions of 50 years. This tragedy of justice propelled Louise to co-author, with Mary Kimbrough, Voices Set Free, l986. Twenty stories of imprisoned battered women give the reader a sense of the scope of injustice facing women caught in defending their lives against an abusive partner. Louise is, to this day, a passionate advocate for survivors of all forms of abuse.

Epistle to the Cardinals: We are all God's Hands on this Eart

I saw the blurb on Abuse Tracker from Bill Donohue about an opinion piece in the New York Times criticizing the author, Paul Elie, as another Catholic malcontent.

My first thought was, We are all Gods hands on this earth.  Maybe the malcontents are actually God speaking to Church leadership and telling them they need to shape up.

My second reactions is that sometimes we don't recognize the help God sends to us.

I am reminded of the story of a man who was stranded during a flood.  Before he was stranded, a policeman came to his door and told him to evacuate.

The man said, "God will take care of me."

The flood waters rose to his doorstep and then into his house.

This was a Katrina like flood so eventually the flood waters rose up to the second floor of his house.  Finally he was forced to poke a hole in his roof and pull himself onto the roof.

As he was standing on the roof, a policeman in a boat came by and offered him a ride to safety.

"No thank you," the man said, "God will take care of me."

Finally the flood lifted his house off of it's foundations, and it began to float down river.

At this point a policeman in a helicopter, having heard reports form the policemen in the patrol car and the boat, knew there was a man remaining behind, found him and hovered his chopper over the man's house.  The crew on the helicopter lowered a ladder for the man to climb up.

He declined, saying, "God will take care of me."

Eventually the house broke up in the flood, and the man drowned and died and went to heaven.

When he met St. Peter at the Pearly Gates he asked, "I don't understand what happened.  I had faith in the Lord, but He didn't save me."

St. Peter asked, "We tried to save you, but you turned down the policeman in the patrol car, the boat, and the helicopter.

I feel as though the leadership of the Church is like this man who drowned after turning down God's help in multiple forms.  What if the voice of all of us dissidents is God's message to the leadership of the Church that they need to change?

I am sorry to say, but I think the leadership of the Catholic Church is drowning right now and will continue to drown.  However, I remain faithful to the prayers and rituals and the saints which I find inspirational and comforting.  They have grown out of 2000 years of Catholic Christians seeking a closer connection to God.  I pray very Catholic prayers every day.  I attend Mass as often as my hectic life allows.  I don't think I am anti-Catholic.  Rather I want the Church to live up to its potential.

Hey Cardinals electing a Pope right now, this is my advice.

You simply cannot build a Church by fighting clergy abuse survivors in court, by covering up abuses and by protecting priests and bishops.  You cannot build a Church by putting lots of energy into making all abortions illegal, by changing around prayers to try to make closer to the precise words in Greek or Latin, or by denying communion to Catholic Democratic politicians.

You can rebuild a Church by caring for survivors, by holding Church leaders accountable for wrongdoing, by supporting women in ways that make abortions unnecessary -- support them with food, housing and medical care through pregnancies and after the baby is born, by supporting the mother through labor (Have you ever thought of how hard it would be to get yourself to the hospital by yourself when you are in labor?  I did it with the help of a husband.  I can't imagine doing it alone.), by helping single mothers with babysitting after the baby is born, by helping with education and jobs, and by not turning single, pregnant women into pariahs.  You can rebuild the Church by allowing for a little poetry in prayers to draw people in to the beauty of prayer.  You can rebuild the Church by keeping Catholic doctrine separate from politics and state.  You can rebuild the Church by not trying to control every thought and every action of every person.  That is abusive.  You can rebuild the Church by finding inspiration in your own history and tradition.  Follow the example of St. Francis in inclusion.  Follow the examples of Mother Theresa in charity.  Follow the example of Maximillian Kolbe in self sacrifice.  Follow the example of Dorothy Day in devotion to social justice.

Just a little advice from a single, divorced mother malcontent who has never been a priest but loves the Church anyway.

Copyright (c) 2013 Virginia Pickles Jones