|| Mother Hen, Father Dan
by Pk Hill, NAASCA Ambassador
I wish my mother had gathered her brood of six as a hen gathers her young under her wing but instead she stood by and watched us scatter to the four winds .. each of us broken in our ways and all emotionally fragmented. My mother left a legacy of six children who do not know themselves or each other. We were tax deductions and nothing more.
My mother stood by and watched in stony silence as the #PriestlyPedophileUncle (her brother) took me into his bed and sexually abused me, molested me, and raped me. She may not have been standing at the foot of the four-poster queen-size bed built to accommodate his girth but she was an intelligent woman who was raised in the same household as this #BeastofPray.
And I know from one of my aunts that the #PedophileUnclePriest did not suddenly materialize out of nowhere and was, in fact, an abuser of girls while he was still a teen himself.
So .. what does a wealthy Catholic widowed dowager do when faced with the fact that one of her male offspring is identified as a sexual aggressor? She purchases his way into the priesthood where he can blend in and hide among the other wolves wearing sheep's clothing.
This journey I am on, this late life journey I am walking has taken me on many a circuitous path in search of answers, explanations, and justifications.
I first reported the abuse of the priest in 1994. (In 1992 I reported the Pedophile nun to the Leadership of her religious community. No action was taken. I was about 42.)
It was decades before the #metoo movement and I had little support. I was believed by the church hierarchy but eventually informed by the Bishop of the Camden Diocese of New Jersey that what I was subjected to sexually and spiritually at the hands of Fr. Daniel Francis Marks Millard was not considered clergy abuse. I was told it was incest and the church was not responsible for his aberrant behavior but they would pray for me. I needed more than prayers.
"Wait," I cried. "We never called him Uncle Dan," I cried. "Never, not once. We called him Fr. Dan. His name was Fr. Dan. He always wore the black cloak of a priest and was never seen without the round white stiffly starched collar (sometimes that was the only thing he wore in the big bed)," I cried.
He hurt me in the church car. He hurt me in the rectory of Mount Carmel Parish in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He hurt me in his bedroom of the rectory at St. Bartholomew's in Camden, New Jersey. He hurt me in his bed in his bedroom of the rectory of St. Maurice in Brooklawn, New Jersey with the only witness being the crucifix that hung on the wall above his bed. He raped me in a confessional at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.
Yet, the church said it was incest…not clergy abuse. So then why was he transferred six times 16 years? The earmark of a pedophile priest/pedophile nun is often measured by the number of times the hierarchy transfers them. Six times for Millard; Father Millard.
He was a pedophile and They Knew It.
They re-victimized me.
... because they had a “playbook” which carefully instructed them how to respond to allegations of sexual abuse by Pedophile Nuns and Pedophile Priests.
... because they could get away with it.
... because they did not care and no one held them accountable.
... because the protection of pedophiles was more important to the RCC than the protection of children.
They Knew Before I Reported ...
... and They Did Nothing to prevent it from happening to another child.
This journey has taken me to the depths of despair, depression, addiction, and rejection. I spent my childhood keeping his filthy secrets and I became sicker and more vulnerable with each passing year.
When alcohol and drugs (introduced to me by the #PedophileNun when I was 15 in a cup of tea) no longer kept the PTSD at bay. I tried Recovery but after 20 years in the rooms of recovery, I was still was incapable of talking about the horrors that happened to me behind closed doors and under the sweaty body of the 450-pound priest. I did not want to rock the family boat. I did not want to be the ‘identified problem'. I did not know who to trust. Inside I was still a kid.
The maturity and emotional growth of a victim cease at the age of the first abuse. I was 5 years old when he first touched me .. when he first made me touch him. I knew I was not the only victim but the others remained silent .. then and now. Eventually, I relapsed back into the dark and terrifying life of an addict.
My journey led me into the manipulative arms of the second pedophile in my life. Sister Pedophile claimed to be my Savior but she literally was a 36-year-old Devil with the Blue Dress on, rosary beads in her pocket, a bible under her arm, and a Veil on her head. She taught me carefully how to remain Shamed and Silent.
She encouraged my isolation from family, friends my own age, and all interest in boys. She forbid me to go the Prom and discouraged dating and crushes. She gave me a ring to wear. It was identical to the ring she wore.
She, not my mother, took me under her wing and into her bed.
My journey has taken me many places. I miss having a family. I miss my niece and nephews who were told by my siblings decades ago that I was dead .. 'suicide by cop' .. in a drug deal gone bad in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. I miss my Catholic friends who shunned me when I shook their world as I began to speak of the atrocities done to me by their vowed role models. I miss the people in my life who were faithful companions but have since died. (Ann, Judy, Marjy, Lucy, Barbara)
My journey has cost me much. My lack of boundaries was the result of my boundaries being crushed as a child by the pedophiles that roamed the churches, rectories, convents, and schools of my childhood hunting for the vulnerable and needy; I was both. As an adult, I did not have good boundaries, trusted the wrong people, made some terrible decisions in my life that culminated in the loss of my home, my investments, my health, and a stable future.
But my journey has also offered me much.
Finding myself in a dark and desperate place, by experiencing such failure, I was forced to reach out to my siblings and admit complete and utter defeat. I begged for help. They said, No. My choices were severely limited. I seriously contemplated ending my life weighing the available options that would ensure the end of the pain that consumed me; emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I needed relief.
But my journey continued. I sought spiritual guidance from the truly wise among us. And although today I live in a room in someone else's house and what is left of my stuff is in a storage facility. And my journey still continues.
I have been literally pushed into actively participating and leading support groups for sexual abuse Survivors using Art, Writing, and Voice as vehicles to expand my self-awareness while at the same time strengthening my own Advocacy and Speaking mission. I express gratitude that I was given a second chance at living a sober and clean life, a second chance to live in Recovery, a second chance to embrace the 12 steps of the Recovery program I choose to follow. Not everyone gets a second chance at Recovery from addiction .. whatever the cause.
In January I celebrated 12 years in the program. It was the second time in my life that I received a 12 year coin. The first time was a gift and it seemingly was easy but to keep the gift required a great deal of work and honesty that I was not capable of investing. This time around I was forced to work with deliberate intention learning what it means to be rigorously honest with myself, my Creator, and others. The journey has been rocky, steep, and at times perilously dangerous.
After searching for several years for a trauma-informed therapist and finding myself repeatedly sitting in front of too many disinterested, detached, and disconnected therapists, I recently started working with an amazing woman who is trauma-informed and who is both engaged and invested in my healing process. I am grateful for her presence in my life. Despite all the outward limitations .. I have been given a mission and purpose in life today.
I am working fervently for #RestorativeJustice for myself and All Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse. I am working with organizations whose intent is to change the laws regarding CSA policy. I am working with a law firm. I have graciously accepted opportunities to speak publicly about my story and to speak to the media. I am writing a book, Chapter 6 in the hands of my editor and chapter 7 is sitting in my computer waiting for my attention.
I will never be silent again.
I may not have been scooped up and protected under the wing of Mother Hen and it is true I was lost deep in a dark past without a moral compass. I should be dead but I am not.
Perhaps I had a wicked childhood
Perhaps I had a miserable youth
But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past
There must have been a moment of truth.
(Julie Andrews/Sound of Music)
It's true I was lost and my losses have been incalculable. I did have a wicked childhood but I have found myself in the wreckage of my past. Perhaps I needed to experience this level of demoralization and rejection in order to find my Voice.
I have found my Voice and today I Speak for those Survivors still searching for theirs.
And so my Journey continues ...
April Is National Sexual Abuse Awareness Month