February 4, 2018

When Hindsight Isn't 20/20

This month, Patrick Bennett, author and survivor of abuse at the hands of a priest, will be sharing his story and exploring the journey he has been on towards healing. In this post, Patrick describes the three distinct groups of people impacted by the heinous abuse committed by Father Sean Fortune.


Winter's setting sun pierces my eyes forcing me to close my blinds on the world. Safe once again from the judgmental eyes and screaming body language of those I encountered throughout my day. As I do this, my own eyes open wider, gifting me the chance to look into my soul, the deepest, darkest abyss of my shredded life clinging soul. Allowing me the added chance to look into its damage, its pain, its memories.

When that insatiable Satan like priest turned child rapist found himself cornered and with nowhere to hide, nowhere to run and took his own rancid life he was facing 66 charges of child rape and molestation. If truth be known both those that then found the courage to also come forward and those who sadly could not and those who sadly could not take anymore and ended their own lives down through the years, I really believe the figure would be closer to a number that suited him more, that number being 666.

That may seem an imagination gone wild or indeed a convenient coping mechanism of my deeply damaged mind -- sadly it is not and is so, so real. But if only it were as simple as that, if only I could gather together all those innocent little boys that he preyed on and say to you now, look, here is the list of names that he savaged and yet survived, a list of the little boys that will forever have to battle in life, battle to survive the pain, physical and emotional, the demon within and here is a separate list of those who so sadly lost their battles over the years. But I can’t do that, its just not that simple when I look back into my soul.

Before I go on, I must make it clear to you that I fully respect and in no way, am judgmental or in any way critical of any of those who may, or may not feel they are included in the depths of my deepest thoughts and/or memories of what they were a part of and in several cases I was and still am close friends with to this day.

In my autobiography "Taking Back My Soul" I describe how I was confronted by a member of my own extended family shortly after my court case had been settled. During that confrontation and sadly on many, many occasions since by various people whom I really fear either don’t know the extent of the hurt and pain they are causing or are trying to hide their own pain or guilt by asking that sickening question "Why are you so down, so depressed? Yes, ok we get it, you were abused and raped, but didn’t you get well compensated for it? Didn’t you get 250,000 reasons to get over it and get on with your life?"

That’s what got me thinking as I do, got me looking back, seeing things more clearly and when I speak to, think or read about "All" those who were abused, raped, savaged by that demon disguised as a priest it got me thinking, grouping them in a way that would to many be so unbelievable, so depraved but is totally clear now.

Firstly, and with all the love and respect I have, I group those poor, sweet, innocent young lads who just couldn’t fight it anymore, couldn’t take it and sadly took their own lives in a seemingly never-ending list. Then I start thinking about all those I know personally who were his victims and "Survived" for want of a better word, and it is through talking to some of them about what happened to them and others myself included all those years ago, I find more and more that in fact it is not simply a case of there being two groups of victims, those who "Survived" and those who sadly didn’t. In fact, there are actually "Three" distinct groups of his victims.

Let me explain, at that time and forever since people ask why nobody said anything, nobody stopped him, and to a large extent that is true but yet again in hindsight we did say things about him, we did tell but like myself we suffered immensely for it both at the hands of those we told and to a worse extent by him. But we didn’t just tell others verbally, we told everyone by our actions and state of mind for our age and its that way of thinking that leaves me with the scenario of there actually being three distinct groups of Victims of Father Sean Fortune.

Father Fortune was a monster, an insatiable Satan like child rapist who would rape and abuse as many innocent kids in the most horrific way when, where and as often as he wanted, and I really do mean as often as he wanted and usually that would mean at least three or four times a day, every day for countless years. He would see someone he wanted and pounce with absolutely no fear or exception. Sadly, that is the group I and so many of my dear friends both living, and dead belong to. I can only describe it as us being nothing more than pieces of meat, there for no other reason than his pleasure or latest depraved fantasy for as long or often as he wanted.

But then there was the other side of Father Fortune, the soft, kind, gentle side, the side who would be involved in anything and everything whether wanted or not in a tiny Irish village of the 1980s and on so many occasions became an integral part of families in what ever area he was hunting in. He would worm his way into families, gain their trust by being the kind of priest anyone could hope to have as a family friend. Parents and their kids and these people would not have a bad word said about him and in a lot of cases still don’t. To them he was truly a man of God, holy and pious and such a gem to have in their community.

But this was in fact just a game that ended up with him gaining enough trust and respect of these families that they would encourage their young sons to spend time with him. Be so proud to accept his invitation for them to spend weekends and sometimes longer as his guest in his house. To a large extent these young lads were treated like princes during their visits to his house, at least to the outside public, they were paraded around with him for all to see. It was as if he was acting like they were in a relationship, they were his favourites and he was so gentle, caring and kind to them. Yes, they suffered untold horrors in the privacy of his home but to us back then and in a very surreal way it was if he were or wanted to be in a loving relationship with them as we know it these days. Never the less as I look back my hindsight can only allow me to group these poor lads in the second group of his victims.

That leaves me with the third and final group, the group that should turn my stomach, should disgust me but when I think of them both as they are today and were back then all I can do is pity them, really, really pity them. These young lads knew exactly what Father Fortune was like and what he was capable of, yet they knowingly put themselves directly in his line of vision and madness but with one huge exception and for want of a better expression "Held him over a barrel". Yes, they were all subjected to the same horrific fate as all the rest of us, but when he was finished with them they controlled him with threats of exposure and made him pay and pay dearly for both their "Service and Silence" to quote one of my friends who belongs to this group. From stereos to motorbikes to cold hard cash they got it all and at the time felt no guilt nor regret. From speaking with some of those lads that I still consider good friends, I now understand that although they knew that Father Fortune was abusing and raping everyone and anyone he wanted, they all thought that because they were controlling and dare I say blackmailing him that everyone was, and it is that thought that effects most of those lads today.

So, there it is, "Three" distinct groups, all victims of a depraved monster but yet and in hindsight clearly 30/30/30 vision! 

Read Part 2: “The” Two Most Effective Tools to Aid Your Recovery from Abuse


"The ruthless honesty of Mr. Bennett means that this is not a story with a sentimental and unambiguously happy ending. He is still on a journey that is sometimes difficult and painful, but he has shown remarkable courage, integrity and honesty and done the community a service by writing this extraordinary and valuable book."

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