Monday, August 18, 2014

Walk Across Pendleton --rerun from August 3, 2009

Monday, August 3, 2009

Walk Across Pendleton

Moonrise Over Pendleton

The East Oregonian, Pendleton’s newspaper, carried a nice article on me on Friday, July 31, but also referred people to contact the local Domestic Violence Services in Pendleton and Hermiston.  I was very happy about that.  I am overloaded as is.  I can't support many more survivors than I already do.  I want people to access local services.  I want to raise awareness about the issue.  I want to present some new ideas about healing, but most of all I want to help survivors come forward in safety to people who can help them.

The response to the East Oregonian article was very positive.  One person e-mailed the newspaper thanking me for telling my story about my own child sex abuse.  Another thanked me for bringing up the issue of clergy abuse and the need to know and do more for survivors.

Both mornings in Pendleton we ate a continental breakfast at our motel’s reception areas.  Other motel guests remarked on our shirts.  I explained that we were walking across Oregon through towns and scenic trails to raise awareness about child abuse.  One woman from Utah asked about the burlap patch I wear -- The Sack Cloth Penance Patch.  I explained that as a Catholic I wear that patch to express my sorrow and apology for Catholic clergy abuse.

"It isn't getting better?" she asked.

"It's worse than you think," I said, "Too often survivors come forward but are not believed and supported by other Catholics.  Too often other Catholics want them to forgive, forget and move on when it can take a lifetime to recover from abuse."

The Sack Cloth Penance Patch designed by Ann Czuba of Portland, Oregon, allows me to bring up the issue of clergy abuse gently, offending no one.  I only speak of abuse to those people who ask about the Patch.
We started walking at Roy Raley Park in Pendleton on Monday, August 3, 2009.  A staff member from the local Domestic Violence Services joined us.  We walked on the River Walk along the Umatilla River until we got to Main Street and then walked down main street.  My daughter wanted to look at toys and candy so we went into a store to look at toys and candy and buy cold drinks. Boy was it hot in Hermiston and Pendleton -- 101 degrees.  Then we went down to the Heritage Museum only to discover that we needed to do more homework.  It was closed on Mondays.  Then we went back to the store that sold toys, candy and cold drinks.  Someone in the store opened up to me.  He saw my t-shirt and asked if I was the person in the newspaper.
"I am," I said.
And then he told me a horrendous story of child abuse.  I found myself wondering if it was true, but I know aspects of my own life story are unbelievable.  I am not in the business of verifying facts, only in supporting anyone who says they are wounded.

We walked back along the Umatilla River to my car.  We were supposed to walk to the offices of the Domestic Violence Services, but my children were wilting in the heat -- it was 101 degrees F.  I am not in this to prove a point about my athletic prowess.  I put my children's needs first and drove to the offices of Domestic Violence Services.  I had to drive around a bit before I finding the right building.

Domestic violence shelters are never marked because too many abusive men would come and hurt or murder their wives and girlfriends, but in Pendleton, Oregon, the offices of Domestic Violence Services are not marked either.

The staff of the agency explained that it is very difficult for survivors to come forward, there often isn't support in the community.  The agency has to keep a low profile.

After visiting with the staff of Domestic Violence Services, we went swimming in the local Aquatic Center -- the perfect place to be on a 101 degree day.

© 2009 Virginia Pickles Jones

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