Sins of the Fathers
ChrisOLeary.com > Sins of the Fathers > Luke Heimlich and the Big Deal

What's the big deal about Luke Heimlich?

He's the Oregon State pitcher who confessed to sexually abusing his young niece.

It's not the abuse.

It's not the act.

It's the denials.

The very public denials.

Denials are the thing that cut a survivor deeper than any physical wound.

Because denials screw with your sense of reality and self.

Which is why the most important thing you could tell a survivor is this.

I believe you.

I am a survivor of the Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal.

Over the course of four years, from 1977 to 1981 I was sexually exploited, abused, and ultimately raped by a priest and serial rapist named Fr. LeRoy Valentine at the Church of the Immacolata in St. Louis, MO.

For reasons that I discuss elsewhere in this webbook, my symptoms have gone largely untreated.

The one thing that I have come up with that does work is a variation on Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

And it starts with -- the key to it is -- admitting one thing.

IT HAPPENED.

When I'm triggered, the only way to try to ensure that it just affects me for hours or days, and not days, weeks, or months, is to admit one thing.

IT HAPPENED.

I (literally) say to myself, "You know what this is. You're not crazy. You're just triggered."

That way I can (hopefully) talk my way through and down off the (metaphorical, so far) ledge.

Denying the truth or trying to just move on or put it behind you DOES NOT WORK. Because you can never get away from the triggers and the experiences of being triggered.

Unless you kill yourself.

That's not something I allow myself to think of, at least at the moment, so I'm left to fight it.

By first acknowledging it.

That is why, in my view, the worst thing Luke Heimlich has done is denying that it happened.

Publicly.

And repeatedly.

I understand why heimlich would do that, but I don't think people understand the impact that is likely having on her.

She can no longer just talk her way through and out of being triggered because now there's a shadow of doubt in her mind.

And I'm SURE it's there.

Did that really happen?
Or did I just imagine it?

Which is the key question Gaslighting leads to.

And, when you doubt or deny a survivor's truth, you are Gaslighting them.

I know it may sound weird that a survivor could doubt what they remember and have always remembered -- at least in part -- but believe me, it happens.

I my case, I finally got up the nerve and went public a few weeks ago in a piece in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch entitled Priest sex abuse survivor says trauma lingers. In that piece, and contrary to what I had been told by another member of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Louis...

said in an email when asked to comment on O’Leary’s account, “The archdiocese’s record of Mr. O’Leary’s allegations are significantly different; however, due to a court order as well as our own ethical obligation, we are not at liberty to discuss Mr. O’Leary’s case.” Jones also said the information O’Leary shared initially changed multiple times by the time he broke off communication with the Office of Child and Youth Protection.

So, in other words, nothing happened.

It's hard for me to explain just how deeply that one paragraph -- that I know is complete and utter bullshit -- has and continues to affect me.

It changed EVERYTHING.

By introducing a shadow of a doubt.

A doubt that the voice inside my head uses to attack me and castigate me and mock me.

I don't know Luke Heimlich's victim, but I'm pretty sure his denials and all of the talk of his being drafted are doing something very similar to her.

Abusing her.

All over again.

And worse, this time.

You know how they say it's not the crime, it's the cover-up?

That's very true for me, and I suspect it's also true for Luke Heimlich's survivor.

So what I want you to ask yourself is this.

Is it worth it?

Is your desire for pleasure more important that her well-being if not her sanity?

For More on This Subject

I believe I understand how Luke Heimlich's actions are affecting his survivor because I'm been through similar things myself, things I discuss in these related pieces...