As part of our “Life Changing Stories” initiative, we will be sharing inspirational stories. Stories from people who #AskFirst, people who took action, who intervened and opened the door for survivors, stories of courage from survivors, and stories of those who made a difference and are creating a culture of consent and respect. We believe that together, these stories – when shared – go to great lengths to create a culture of consent and respect.
Please know that this story could be a trigger for some. We applaud Jim and all survivors for being #SurvivorStrong.
This is Jim’s story, written in his own voice.
I remember him when I was in the 8th grade. He would come into the classroom and tell the nun he wanted to see me. He took me out into the hallway, into a different room, and gave me a cigarette. The both of us were just sittin there havin a cigarette shootin the breeze.
I was really involved with the church, the parish, and all the activities they had goin on. The church used to have a Christmas fair every year, so we used to help set up for the Christmas fair and work the Christmas fair. I just immersed myself into the church because that’s the way I was raised; you go to church, and you become part of the church and the church becomes part of you.
And then on one evening, he asked me to meet him in the rectory. We were in there and I thought it was the coolest thing, ya know? Here I am with a priest and he’s givin me a beer. Then we had a second beer. And then he took off his shirt and asked me to stand up. And I stood up, and he was getting really close to me. He started to rub himself in his private parts and asked me to step over to the bed. After that is where everything else just went blank. I just couldn’t remember a thing.
I stayed silent from 1978 up to 2003, about twenty-five years. But I had to deal with it. It was just eatin me up on the inside. So that’s where I came in contact with THP and Maddie. She would ask me a question and I would dance all around the question, and eventually she would just pull me back in and say, “You gotta do this.” And that’s what I really needed at that point in time. I needed somebody to hold my feet to the fire and say,“Ya know, you gotta deal with this” and “How does it feel?”
I was workin with Maddie and I was like a scared little boy, even though at the time I was a forty-five year old grown man. Looking back on just a year, where I was back then to where I am right now, it’s just light years. Light years different.
It’s encouraging to know that there’s people out there who do care. There’s people out there who are willing to help. There’s services out there that can help you, but you have to be willing to take that first step. If you don’t take that first step, then you’ll just be stuck in the shame, sorrow, negativity, and just all the nasty side of what the abuse has to offer. You can have the shame taken away.
You can go from bein awkward in social situations, from beatin yourself up with negative talk and everythin right across the board, to comin out the other side and standin on your own two feet. You can feel comfortable in your own skin, have your confidence come back, have your self-esteem come back, and see everything that’s good about the world. That does exist out there, even through something as very, very dark as this. There is hope on the other side. There really is.
You can read the rest of Jim’s story in “To the Survivors”
-Mike Domitrz, founder of The DATE SAFE Project
If you have any questions about our programs at The DATE SAFE Project or speaking engagements please contact Rita at 800-329-9390 or you can email her at Rita@datesafeproject.org