This week CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 aired a show about Headline News anchor Thomas Roberts who was sexually abused as a teen by a Catholic priest.

I’m not sure if there will be further re-runs of the episode but you can read a statement by Roberts here.

A lot of what he has to say resonates with the experience of the victims we interviewed for “All God’s Children” who were abused by Evangelical missionaries, not Catholics. The shame, the inability to tell others, the decades that pass – and then the courage. A courage which I applaud in Thomas Roberts as much as in any non-celebrity.

What struck me most was this:

“When I was in college, another boy, Michael Goles, came forward and reported his abuse at the hands of Father Jeff. I knew I could help Michael if I, too, revealed Father Jeff’s abuse, but out of a feeling of self-preservation, I remained quiet. Michael wasn’t believed, and his case was thrown out of court.” – Thomas Roberts

How big the shame, how terrible the fear must be that you are not able to step up when someone else has already gone public and a conviction may depend on your testimony.

This is also something we came across in the making of our documentary with one of the alleged perpetrators. The person making the accusation still stands alone with no one braving to speak up against the alleged abuser.

Then the closing words of this article struck me. While I’m currently in the midst of submitting our documentary to festivals in hopes to bring it to an audience and maybe open the doors to wider distribution – worrying if it’s good enough, if programmers will select it, if we cleared all legal rights, if the color is corrected, if we can afford another submission, etc. – I’m reminded again of what really matters. The people in our film suffered a lot and making this film may have caused them some more agony, but just like Thomas Roberts, this is why they told us their stories:

“If this story compels even one person to seek help for being sexually abused, then it is all worth it. All it takes is telling one person. From there, strength grows and you can tell a second person and so on. Then you can finally have control of your life back.”
– Thomas Roberts

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