Clergy abuse not only impacts the victim, often times, relatives suffer too.
Janet Patterson of Wichita knows this all too well and shares her family’s story and hope for the future.
Janet has spoken out about clergy abuse for years, and even testified in front of the Kansas Senate Committee about it. She says she’s thankful it’s coming out but knows there’s a lot that hasn’t been revealed.
Janet thinks of her son Eric often.
“That was taken when he was two-years-old and typical muddy haired kid, muddy face kid and just adorable,” said Janet Patterson, Advocate for survivors of clergy abuse.
She says Eric had a bright future and became a teacher, but his dreams were cut short.
“My son-in-law said Janet come home, and I knew from the tone in his voice something was really bad,” said Patterson.
Eric took his own life in October of 1999. Janet says he suffered from depression, for a reason they didn’t know until years after it happened.
She says he was abused by a priest from the Diocese of Wichita.
“They’re going through life with untreated, undiagnosed trauma, and it’s very hard to know what to do in those situations,” said Patterson.
Janet has since dedicated her time to helping survivors of abuse by catholic priests, and seeking justice.
She says she’s grateful the abuse is being exposed, and is working to get mandatory reporting by religious figures in Kansas.
“So no bishop or other official will say, well, we’ll have to keep this quiet because they’ll know, that they may end up in jail if they’re concealing it,” said Patterson.
Although it’s difficult to think about the trauma Eric experienced, Janet says she will continue to share his story for him and others.
“You can’t keep me quiet because I know firsthand how horrible it is,” said Patterson.
Janet also encourages anyone with suspicions about clergy sexual abuse to report it and not stay silent.