Here is the quote from Archbishop Martin’s defence team when dealing with historical child sexual abuse case… “You can’t do anything — he is above the law”, he is only answerable to God. A famous refrain of many Irish clerics in the Irish Catholic Church was and is “A male child can’t be raped because he must have wanted it.” Sadly another refrain used by the same Irish clerics, suggested that the man/boy made up the allegations to try and get financial compensation. Another refrain yet again, is by an Irish Catholic Priest, “God doesn't like boys who cry especially when we are having fun”. Than comes obfuscation, with the Irish Catholic Church claiming it did not know the substance of the allegations, the boy/ man or boys /men were and are mentally sick. Why, the good Priest or Cleric had been to confession and received absolution by another Priest and God. But most revealing of all would be the attempt by the Church’s defence team, to turn the spotlight on the complainants' motivation, as in my case before the Irish High Court, to blame the accusers rather than the accused. It has been a familiar pattern all to familiar in all Irish Catholic abuse cases over the many years and will be used again and again in the many years to come. Through all the decades, and all the changes, the behaviour of the Irish Catholic Church towards abuse victims has changed remarkably little. The concept is "clericalism", a word used to describe Priests' sense of entitlement, somethings are critical to understanding the Irish Catholic Church behaviour. That is "scandalising the faithful". Traditionally, the Irish Hierarchy believed the greatest sin was shaking the faith of Catholic congregations, protecting them, meant concealing scandal. This concept of "clericalism", a word often used to describe Irish Priests' sense of entitlements, their demands for deference and their apparent conformity to rules and regulations in public, while privately behaving in a way that suggests the rules don't ever apply to them personally. Governed by its own rules, through Canon Law, all this contributes to the notion that the Irish Catholic Church can and did conduct its own affairs without interference or outside scrutiny. It demanded a voice in Irish Society without ever being fully accountable to it.
Child Male Rape is probably the most underreported crime in Ireland. Unfortunately, many Irish police officers are antagonistic toward a child male rape victim. They may feel embarrassed themselves at having to question a fellow male about a sexual assault, never mind a male child. Very often police questioning focuses on the child having “brought on the attack” himself. The police officer may dwell on the sexual aspect of the rape, asking him to describe his feelings during the attack, the rapist’s genitals, or the position in which he raped him. The psychological trauma experienced by a rape victim that includes disruptions to normal physical, emotional, cognitive, and interpersonal behaviour. After the sexual assault, the child often feels troubled by his inability to protect himself, questioning his masculinity, feeling that a sense of control has been taken from him. He will feel ashamed about the incident, making him reluctant to speak out to both family and friends. In fact, most hold the view that “nobody would believe me” as a reason for not reporting the incident.
All male child victims report a complex range of emotional difficulties like isolation, anger, sadness, deep shame, guilt, and fear, depression, anxiety are all the most common. You would think, talk of ‘Children First’ and mandatory reporting to the police would lead you to believe that allegations of sexual abuse on children, specially male children are now handled with greater sensitivity, that victims are respected and believed, pedophiles and rapists are punished. Sadly not so, the battle really starts if and when the child many years later as a man wants to bring a high court action against his rapists, especially if the abusers are Irish clerics of the Irish Catholic Church. Until recently in Irish law, male rape was not defined as a criminal offence, a man could only commit rape against a woman.
Boys were raped by religious men in positions of power with authority over them in all the Industrial Schools in Ireland. Many people did not take the sexual assault of boys seriously, believing that men, especially men who identify as heterosexual or who are assaulted by men, cannot be victims of rape, male victims of sexual abuse and assault often face a culture that tells them their abuse results from either weakness or homosexuality. Many males are reluctant to label their assault as rape or sexual abuse or even mention it at all, to anybody, out of the stigma or been labeled queer, or other derogatory terms that are things that are unflattering, unkind, and demeaning to the masculine. However, a reluctance to disclose may be a barrier to treatment, when treatment can often be of significant help in resolving the feelings of guilt, shame, anger and depression that would always follow a sexual attack. Male rape victims face 'humiliating' questions once they decide to bring a legal action on their historical sex abuse to light. High profile cases will have and leave a lasting impact on victims’ confidence to report sexual crimes, when all the salacious details come out, both in the court and the press. This is why most male rape victims will not step forward, male victims of sexual abuse will always face the possibility of being humiliated in open court by cleaver lawyers or with the untrained police and boys/man credibility will be undermined by both the defence lawyers and the rapist, asking intimate questions about their sexual partners, and lifestyle, their clothing and their appearance. Even their sex identity will become an issue specially if the victim is gay, and the amount of partners he had and the type of sex he preformed.
Sexual violence against boys in all the Industrial Schools in Ireland was alarmingly common, a taboo subject that most boys out of shame didn’t know how to talk about. It was commonly believed at the time that rape can only be against a girl or a woman, but never a boy. The silence surrounding the issue of sexual violence against boys is being broken down slowly, unfortunately effective measures of justice and redress are still not understood or applied in ways that can support male victims, particularly in historical sex abuse case now slowly coming before the Irish Courts. There is no doubt that the scope of the problem for male victims was very large in the Industrial Schools in Ireland as I personally know and also according to the Ryan Report, (The Commission set up in Ireland to Inquire into Child Abuse ) sexual violence against many boys by the Male Religious Orders was rampant and was a significant problem that was completely ignored by both the Irish Catholic Church and Irish society at large.
The sexual violations took many forms, including rape, gang rape, sexual slavery, enforced nudity, and being forced to perform crude sexual acts with the clerics. Very commonly, sexual violence against the vulnerable boys was endemic throughout the Industrial Schools in Ireland. Most male victims experiences of sexual violence continue to be underreported, misunderstood, and mischaracterised in the open Irish Courts. To this day, in all cases, male victims are reluctant to acknowledge the sexual nature of the violations committed against them. Most of the boys, now men talk about sexual abuse in general without saying for example, that they were anally raped or forced to preform fellatio on their tormentors as rape or other crude acts of a sexual nature, forcible committed against the boys at the time in the Industrial Schools in Ireland. This can happen, and did happen to the boys/men in order to avoid the social stigma attached to such acts or due to the fear of being perceived as weak, labeled homosexual, or being accused of having “wanted it.” as was and is used by many of the Irish Clerics as a defence before the High Courts. Even in instances where men report acts of sexual violence, those receiving the reports rarely handle the report with the sensitivity and awareness they require. Medical practitioners, and the police for example, may not be adequately trained to recognise, identify, or treat male victims or they may themselves accuse male victims of sordid homosexuality, as if that is a crime or even prostitution, otherwise perpetuate social misconceptions about these crimes.
Sexual violence against boys is slowly becoming a part of the discussion about justice and accountability for crimes, or historical sex crimes that was committed by the Religious Orders in Ireland, and not just in the Industrial Schools, but in almost every parish the length and breadth of Ireland. Despite the fact that this type of violence is pervasive across contexts and causes significant and enduring harm to both victims and their communities, it has typically been ignored or considered as simply physical rather than sexual harm. In addition, sexual violence has often been defined as violence against women, including the courts, doctors, social services, so that male victims are at risk of being excluded from benefits that are normally available to women victims. Owen Felix O’Neill
Owen Felix O'Neill
Author of Child Laundering Secrets, 2017