Victim advocates say sharing the names reminds victims they are not alone

Published: Jan. 17, 2019 at 5:30 PM CST
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Diocese of Green Bay leaders hope releasing the names of abusers will bring healing to those were hurt, but victim advocates say the decision also has the potential to trigger painful memories.

"I think it's really helpful for survivors to know that they are being open and honest about how they're dealing with the situation," said Chelsey Steffens, a victim advocate at the Family Services Sexual Assault Center. "It's almost very comforting in the fact that victims can know that they have resources available to them going forward."

Steffens works with sexual assault victims of all ages.

"It helps to know that they're not the only one. There may be other survivors out there that have been victims in the past from those people who did that to them," she said.

A former Catholic priest and survivor of clergy sexual abuse, Bob Hoatson dedicates his life to helping other victims through the non-profit organization, Road to Recovery.

"What I'm hoping is is that when victims of the 47 priests see the list, those who have not come forward yet will say, 'Oh my goodness. There's my abuser. Maybe it's time for me to come forward,'" said Hoatson.

Road to Recovery gives survivors of clergy sexual abuse the tools they need for healing and justice. Those tools range from therapist recommendations to food and shelter.

"We were trained that the priest is the closest thing to God on Earth," said Hoatson. "So, when a child is abused by a clergyman, it's as if God was abusing the child."

Both Steffens and Hoatson agree releasing the names could make old trauma feel new again for victims; however, Steffens encourages survivors to keep speaking out.

"Talking about it and having your voice heard is really therapeutic for the healing process," she said.

The Family Services Sexual Assault Center offers a 24/7 hotline for victims looking for someone to talk to at 920-436-8899.