Sins of the Fathers > Sins of the Fathers > TOC > My Secret

For reasons that will become obvious, I've started writing this piece and then deleted it.

Over and over again.

However, in the off chance that the COVID-19 virus gets me, I want to make sure this doesn't go unsaid.

So people understand what it's like for survivors of abuse by priests.

My Secret

Two years ago, the Archdiocese of St. Louis accused me of making Terroristic Threats against them and filed a police report with the Shrewsbury police alleging that.

I of course did NOT do that.

They were just trying to intimidate me into silence.

Sandra Price of ArchStL admitted as much a year ago in my meeting with Archbishop Carlson and her.

However, that complaint led Shrewsbury to open an investigation and, after a few weeks, I received a visit from two Shrewsbury detectives. I spent two hours with them, reassuring them that they had been lied to by the Archdiocese of St. Louis. It took a years for Shrewsbury to close the investigation for lack of evidence.

However, that episode DESTROYED me — even further — because it played off of something I've spent the past 12 years fearing and managing.

I guess it's PTSD.

And my psychologists — I've told all three of them — tell me it's most likely fear.

But it feels like anger.


A rage that strikes me whenever I leave the house and am not in COMPLETE control of things.

Obviously, it's incredibly disturbing to feel that whenever I leave the house so, for the past 12 years, I've basically been self-quarantining myself.

In order to protect myself and others.

Which is why I haven't been able to take a conventional job.

I don't want to hurt anyone, and it disturbs me that I would feel such an impulse at certain times, so I manage it by not leaving the house.

And that's why the Archdiocese of St. Louis alleging that I had done, or threatened to do, such a thing affected me the way it did.

I first felt this way back in the Summer of 2008 when Laura and the kids went to Colorado without me. I thought that was no big deal, but I was quickly struck — driving West on Adams by the Kirkwood Y — by such a feeling. It would make sense that that feeling was fear — Laura and the kids were gone and I couldn't protect them, which was worsened by the fact they had a near miss with a tornado in Kansas — but it felt like rage.

And it terrified me because — remember, Cardinal Dolan had told me in 2002 that nothing happened — I couldn't connect it to anything, much less see it as PTSD.

And, when I started to figure out what had happened to me in 2011 and 2012, the feeling started to get to me when I would try to go to sleep. As I would relax, the part of me that I call the 11 Year-Old that is left over from and stuck in that time 40 years ago — and again, who I've told all three of my therapists about — would take over. And he was the source of the rage. And he was, and still is, PISSED.

But PISSED isn't a strong enough word.

Suffice it to say, the 11 Year-Old would have — and has — fantasies. Of revenge. And torture. And worse. Doing stuff to the people responsible for what happened to me way back when at Immacolata.

Fighting those images and fantasies wouldn't work. The 11 Year-Old keeps me up — all night, if necessary — until I let those fantasies play.

The only way I could — and, unfortunately, still too often can — get to sleep was to cede control of the remote control to the 11 Year-Old, much as that disturbed me.

I've tried drinking at night in an effort to just pass out, but he must have given me alcohol so it's a MASSIVE trigger. Drinking anything more than a beer — in St. Louis, at least — is no help because it just triggers a bunch of other, abuse-related stuff.

Now, to be clear, they are just fantasies. That I have never acted on. That the Chris O'Leary you know HATES. And finds repulsive.


While I have often feared that those fantasies mean I'm actually a serial killer — the 11 Year-Old is TERRIFIED of just that — all my therapists have told me it's PTSD.

And, fortunately, I have enough control over myself to know I would never act on them. And they're not an issue.

Except at night when I'm trying to go to sleep.

Or when I leave the house and am not in COMPLETE control of the situation.

And all of that goes to my financial situation.

I'm not lazy.

I'm traumatized.

Terrorized by the thoughts that pop into my head when I try to go to sleep or when I leave the house and am not in COMPLETE control.

I've spent the past 12 — really 18 — years trying to get help from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, but they do NOTHING to help survivors, and are proud of it.

My parents have spent SO MUCH money trying to get me help, and it's worked some, but it's expensive and they simply can't afford to do it any more.

And I can't afford it.

So I'm left to self-quarantine.

To try to scrape out as much of a living as I can while managing all the constraints that come with living with untreated PTSD.

I tell this not so you feel pity, but so you understand that plight of survivors. Why we need help. Why so many of us treat ourselves with alcohol. And worse.

And why the Pope's recent mandate regarding the treatment of survivors, aka VOS ESTIS...

...was such a betrayal.


Chris O'Leary
St. Louis, MO