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The VIRTUS Reality: Living with the Past

November 29th, 2012by Deacon Royce Winters

It happened so many years ago, but it still haunts me today.  It has for decades changed the way I relate to the abuser and to the victims.  Why did the victims tell me?  It really wasn’t a question.  I knew the answer.  I’ve always been good at standing up for myself and for those who have sought my counsel. The victims knew that and I was their refuge. 

As the victims recounted their abuse, it cut me to the core and I’ve never recovered.  Somehow, I had become a victim – and I simply did not know how to handle “my problem.”  I had already chosen not to ignore the impact the abuse had in their lives. I wasn’t ready nor was I prepared to deal with the impact of hearing their stories would have on mine. 

I am not the same – whatever that means.  At a distance, it seems as though they’ve dealt with it better.  But, that’s only because I know the devastation it has caused in my life.

I’ve come to know that sexual abuse changes the lives of the abuser, the victim, the advocate and many, many more.  So today, in prayer and thanksgiving, I thank God for the days in which he’s numbered for me, and for all those whose lives have been changed due to the evil that is sexual abuse.

Deacon Royce Winters

Deacon Royce Winters is the director of African American Catholic Ministries for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. He has been married for 36 years and his wife, children and grandchildren all attend Church of the Resurrection in Bond Hill.