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Another Voice: Counseling, confrontation help a sex abuse survivor

By David Kibler

It is good to see there is pressure on and exposure of the abuse that has been experienced by the young boys and girls at the hands of priests in the Catholic Church for so many years.

The call for the Buffalo Diocese to open up the books, be transparent about what has happened and name those abusers is important.

It is not only a way to curtail future abuse, but also an important step in helping victims to heal.

I know this because I was a victim.

Abusers may be stripped of their priesthood and possibly their freedom, and the church might compensate victims. That retribution may help for a while, but once the headlines and sensationalizing stop, the unyielding weight, the pain and loss of control from the abuse will still be felt.

I hope that sharing my experience and my road to recovery will help give other victims the courage to speak up and let them know it is possible to heal.

When I was 12, I was abused by a priest who was also an extended family member.

I told no one until I was 21, when I told my fiancée, and only because that priest was going to preside over my brother’s wedding and I was his best man.

That first step of telling someone started an incredible journey of tremendous support from my wife, great pastors and Christian counselors.

Two notable events brought the biggest relief. First, a two-hour session with my counselor called a “prayer time of healing” involved recalling what happened and asking Jesus to come and heal me from the damage done by that priest.

I had never cried so hard and hurt so much.

When we finished, the freedom I felt, the lifting of a heavy weight and the breath of fresh air, all came because the abuse no longer had control over me, my thoughts or actions.

The second turning point was when I confronted my abuser. I was able to tell him I was ready to forgive him for what he did to me and all of the ill effects it had on my life.

After a four-hour trip with my pastor to the church and school where the priest was assigned, I was nervous but excited to be following what God was directing me to do.

When we left, I was free from it all.

Through each stage of the healing process, I gained more and more of my life back.

This is what I want and hope for all the other victims out there of this terrible legacy of abuse.

I want my message of hope and healing to get out there as a beacon for those lost and searching in the dark.

David Kibler, an insurance professional, was born and raised in Marilla and now lives in Oakfield.

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