BY ELIZABETH WONG BARNSTEAD, THE WESTERN KENTUCKY CATHOLIC
A six-week group for adult male survivors of sexual abuse by clergy is beginning in October.
A similar collaboration between the two entities had taken place in spring 2019, in the form of a support group for survivors of sexual abuse.
Based on evaluations of that support group, “the participants wanted to have a group for men only, and women only, who have experienced sexual abuse by a priest,” said Jennifer Francis-Gehring, a clinical therapist at New Beginnings.
“Therefore, New Beginnings decided to offer this type of group as a next step in helping to aid in the healing process,” she said.
Louanne Payne, director of the diocese’s tribunal, also serves as the diocese’s pastoral assistance coordinator, which means she answers the hotline for callers to report abuse by someone acting in the name of the Church.
Payne said the initial collaboration with New Beginnings occurred “as a result of the listening sessions offered by Bishop Medley throughout the diocese last fall.”
Bishop William F. Medley had held four listening sessions around western Kentucky during fall 2018 in response to the Catholic Church’s ongoing clergy abuse crisis.
Francis-Gehring explained that the group, which begins on Oct. 15, 2019, is for men, ages 18 and older, “who have experienced sexual abuse by clergy within the Catholic Church.”
She added that children may not attend this group and that childcare is not available. Women also may not attend this group, but a six-week group for adult female survivors of clergy sexual abuse will occur in spring 2020.
Francis-Gehring also said that there must be at least four people to participate for the group to occur.
“This is actually a ‘group therapy’ group and closed to public attendance,” she said. “That is why registration is required; as an initial meeting will need to occur between the therapist and person seeking out this group to make sure group therapy is appropriate in nature at this time in an individual’s life.”
Additionally, she said all participants will agree to attend all sessions.
“Topics are more in-depth and center on the trauma of sexual abuse,” said Francis-Gehring.
What can a participant expect to get out of this group?
“That is a difficult question to answer as expectations for each individual is different,” she said. “For some it might be healing, for others information, etc. It just depends on the individual.”
Currently, the group is set to take place on Tuesdays from 5:30-7:30 p.m., starting on Oct. 15, unless the collective group decides a different time is better. To register, call Jennifer Francis-Gehring at (270) 926-7273.
All New Beginnings services are provided free of charge. To learn more, visit nbowensboro.org.
To report suspected abuse:
Kentucky Child Protection Hot Line:
or your local Commonwealth Attorney
To report abuse to the diocese, current or past, by anyone acting in the name of the Church, please call:
Pastoral Assistance Coordinator
Para reportar abusos a la diócesis, ya sean actuales o anteriores, por parte de cualquier persona que actúa en nombre de la Iglesia, favor de llamar al:
Coordinador de Asistencia Pastoral
You may also visit the Office of Safe Environment for more information.
Originally printed in the September 2019 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.
Copyright © 2019 Diocese of Owensboro/The Western Kentucky Catholic