David Bonzo Brooks Writes ———

david brooks

Some may have read the posts that I made last week just shortly after stumbling upon the Mirfield Blog. A message I received today from another Mirfieldien prompted me to read this petition to share experiences of sexual, physical and emotional abuse by young men; nay boys studying at Mirfield.
I ask you to forgive me if I am ineloquent in my writing this post. The source for my ineloquence was the psychological injury that arose from the physical and psychological trauma I experienced at Mirfield. As I already indicated, this stunted my academic and intellectual development, the ramifications of which I still face today.
I write to comment specifically on Paul McIntyre’s and especially upon Donald McLardy’s posts. Paul states his surprise that abuse took place at Mirfield. Specifically, he states; “I had no idea that this went on.” Donald states; “I’ve got to agree with him say that there was nothing like this during my time”! These comments do not surprise me, and I find no fault with either Paul or Donald. They simply repeat statements or beliefs voiced by an overwhelming percentage of the population. Although; I believe in recent years more people have gained some knowledge of abuse and especially sexual abuse by priests.
The problem is that abuse and especially sexual abuse are to the greatest extent possible a SECRET! Victims and I hate that terminology, are often sworn to secrecy or have been terrified by the possibility of what will happen if the reveal the secret or are afraid to spill the beans or feel guilty with their involvement or sometimes just do not realise what has been inflicted upon them. Many will not understand that, but I can only describe it as being numbed, detached, in denial or in a state of disassociation. Anyway, I think that there is actually a small number of abusers with a relatively small number of prey at a given time. Although, I have no doubt that most abusers will have a significant number of victims over time. Thus, it is a secret and goes unnoticed by the majority. In Mirfield and similar institutions abusers have the advantage of authority, control, privacy and usually a significant amount of vulnerable, compliant, scared, lonely, naïve and controllable ever changing target.
Most of us transited Mirfield in the late sixties to early seventies. I think that this was before the explosion of revelations about abuse that clearly started in the mid to late seventies. Perhaps; and I sincerely hope that Donald is correct with his statement; “I’ve got to agree with him say that there was nothing like this during my time”. However, I have my doubts. The abusers may have been shocked into curtailing or stopping their activities (although I doubt that they are capable of stopping their abusive conduct) because of the revelations and news media scrutiny or were “moved on”. I would have no confidence and no confidence in stating that none of this was happening at a specific point in time or even today (in other residential facilities).
You know; my best friend and last and best work mate took me out for dinner for my birthday last November. He was only the second person in my life that I ever told about these experiences. He surprised me when he said; “that is normal “ and “it happens to almost all boys”! I was surprised because if I understood correctly he either experienced or had knowledge of this type of abuse and what genuinely surprised me is that he is Jewish and attended Hebrew schools. Subsequently, I read or heard that males are sexually abused more than females. I think the figure was 4 out of 5 boys as opposed to 2 out of 5 girls.
To my peers, friends, fellow former seminarians who were subjected to abuse, carry the memories and scars and relive the trauma; you may be isolated, you may be or feel misunderstood, you may feel guilty, you may think or have been told you are a victim. However, you are not alone. There are people that understand you and understand or are aware (learn) what you have gone through You are not a victim, and you are not a survivor (useless psychological labels that I think will cripple you). I heard someone say; (I watch a lot of documentaries and self-improvement programming and can never remember where I hear something that I eventually reason is wise); we grow by learning from our mistakes and failures. I submit that we grow by refusing to accept life’s harsh, destructive and psychologically traumatic experiences dominate and define us. Remember the quote from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis; “Sunlight is the best disinfectant”! So, if you feel stained or soiled by what was wrought upon you; expose it to the light!
Finally, Paul and Donald remind us that although some of us had extremely painful experiences at Mirfield that there were also enjoyable experiences and happy times. There were friendships formed, a spirit of camaraderie, enjoyable and fun times and experiences. Let’s not lose sight of the happier times and enjoyable experiences. Perhaps, lets use them to counter the effects of the awful experiences.

2 responses to “David Bonzo Brooks Writes ———

  1. I am sorry that I can’t remember you David. Your piece is profound, and expresses your thoughts beautifully. I agree with everything you say and hope you will add material to the blog. This in much haste.

    Martin Millar [MOB 1968-72]

  2. Hello David
    You were at Mirfield well after my time but I enjoyed reading your posts. Sunlight surely is the best disinfectant. The Verona Fathers are beginning to find it hurts their eyes. Best wishes. Frank McGinnis MOB 64-67.

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