I wrote recently about the attempt by Catholic militant, Mary Kenny, to downgrade the seriousness of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests.
The following reponse was recently published in the Irish Catholic (My emphasis).
Mary Kenny in her article implied victims of clergy abuse were misusing the term ‘child sexual abuse’ when using this term for abuse other than rape.
From her position, she sees distinctions between molestation, rape and masturbation. She further sees distinctions between a six-year-old child who is raped and a 15 year-old fondled.
This is a gross oversimplification of sexual abuse.
Her position on the Brendan Smyth case has not changed from 1994 when she wrote in The Tablet:
I find it much more likely that the explanation of the Attorney General’s slowness to respond to the case of Brendan Smyth lay in the attitude that many of us would have; feeling of disbelief, denial, procrastination and wondering really if it was all as serious as it was cracked up to be.
She then makes comment on a case:
A mother on the World at One (Radio 4) told how Brendan Smyth had abuse her young daughter; he had taken the girl on his knee and fondled her inappropriately. As I had been led to imagine by reports in the Irish media that Smyth was a ravening rapist the crime had been less than it had been made out to be.
A child fondled can be more harmed than a child raped depending on that child’s previous experience, support or lack of support from those around her/him, development or emotional stability at the time of the act.
Duration of abuse e.g. several years fondling versus one act of rape may be more harmful.
After 20+g years supporting clergy sexual abuse survivors, I can testify that damage done is not only about the ‘act’ but about who the perpetrator is, the level of trust given/expected, the support they receive around them, and the response on reporting.
Kenny’s attempt to be some sort of child sexual abuse specialist in this area simply leads to confusion for those who know little about child sexual abuse, promotes rejection of victims who are not raped and pours scorn on those who claim (validly) to say they have been sexually abused even if not raped.
Dr. Margaret Kennedy,