Persistence, good therapy, yoga and meditation, and the loving support of a sensitive partner have helped Peter to heal from the abuses of a Catholic priest.
"I mean it'd be great for him to say, 'Look, I really betrayed you.'"
"That's where I learned really well to dissociate...It was just concrete, a couple of blankets, and...a small cot."
"I have the capacity to be aware of beauty...There's something about me that can be aware of this and behold it."
"The healing cannot come from the court. The healing needs to come from the priest."
"Here's this beautiful 11-year-old boy, and suddenly I had a sexual attraction to him...It frightened me."
"I felt that I need to speak up. I need to do something about this."
"It's not as if I have, you know, a normal life, then was abused...It's much more complex than that."
"I started on antidepressant and about 6 months in...I woke up and I thought so this is what people feel like when they feel secure."
“[I] did one hit of LSD that was a really big hit...It sort of tore the lid off all the repression."
"If you have [pedophilia] as a sexual identity, then it can't feel wrong...So there's some compassion for him."
"Have I come through it? Have I healed? It's an ongoing process. My relationship with men has gotten stronger."
"How much have I closed off behind those doors out of anger and betrayal?"
"I started telling him I don't trust you. And then he started telling me that he doesn't trust me."
"My friend said you know, this is a fantastic opportunity, and I said I don't trust him...That happened over and over and over again."
If Peter’s story is a tapestry, then two of its main components are his Swiss family upbringing and the Catholic Church. Peter’s father was a Swiss Guard who for years worked at the Vatican, and for many more years devoted himself to spreading the Pope’s message. His many absences strained his growing family and contributed to a rupture of Peter’s relationship with his mother, who would periodically banish Peter from the home.
After moving the family to a small Ontario farm, Peter’s father died when Peter was nine, leaving his mother alone with nine children to raise.
Fatherless, and shunned by his mother, Peter was targeted by Father Harper, the junior priest at their church. Grooming was followed by periodic sexual abuse. Worst of all was the “mind fuck.” Harper would sexually abuse Peter, then force Peter to confess his “sinful behavior” to Harper in the confessional.
There were years of intermittent drug use, unrealized potential, failed relationships, and inadequate counseling. But Peter is persistent. He found good therapy and committed himself to it. He discovered yoga and meditation, and spent 18 months in residence at the Kripalu Center in western Massachusetts. He found a kind and sensitive partner and has just celebrated his 15th anniversary with her. Four years ago, they adopted a 13-year girl who has gradually knit herself into the family fabric. A wonderful dog and delightful cat create a rich family tapestry.
And Peter decided to hold the Church accountable. He brought his case to the police, and prosecution followed. He sued the Church, received a settlement, and promptly shared the Church’s money with three fellow survivors in need.
The self-improvement has not ceased. Peter has built a workshop behind his house, organized like only a Swiss-born could make it. And Peter has many projects in mind. Some involve wood, and others involve his ongoing pursuit of ever greater self-awareness.