Victims of Catholic Nun Abuse Seek Justice, Say They’ve Been Overlooked

Catholic Nun

Amidst the ongoing clergy sex abuse crisis, a lesser-known group of survivors is finding solidarity and support in an online forum dedicated to those who have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic nuns.

Gathering weekly over Zoom, members of the support group share their experiences and provide mutual encouragement.

Founded by Mary Dispenza, a former nun herself, the group aims to shed light on a topic often overshadowed by the more commonly reported cases of abuse by male clergy.

Dispenza, drawing from her own painful past, initiated the online support group in collaboration with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) five years ago.

As the #MeToo movement gained momentum, more survivors began to come forward, prompting a growing awareness of the prevalence of abusive nuns within Catholic institutions.

The reluctance to acknowledge abuse by nuns stems partly from societal perceptions of women as nurturers and caregivers, compounded by the reverence often associated with religious figures.

However, as Dispenza emphasizes, the reality of sexual abuse by nuns cannot be ignored.

One such survivor, Gabrielle Longhi, bravely stepped forward with her allegations against a former teacher, prompting legal action against her former school and the religious order to which the accused belonged.

Gabrielle Longhi. Image Credit: AP

Longhi’s courage was bolstered by recent changes in Maryland law, which eliminated the civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims, providing hope for survivors seeking justice.

For others like Paige Eppenstein Anderson and Anne Gleeson, grappling with the realization of past abuse has been a long and painful journey. Both survivors recount experiences of manipulation and exploitation by those entrusted with their care, underscoring the deep-seated trauma inflicted by abusive nuns.

Despite the challenges and obstacles they face, members of the support group remain resolute in their pursuit of accountability and reform within religious institutions. Their efforts have sparked calls for greater transparency and accountability, urging religious orders to take decisive action against known abusers.

As the group continues to grow and evolve, its members are committed to providing a safe space for survivors to share their stories and seek support. With renewed determination, they strive to effect positive change and ensure that the voices of nun abuse survivors are heard and acknowledged.

In the face of adversity, these survivors stand united, offering hope and healing to others who have endured similar trauma.

Their resilience serves as a beacon of strength, illuminating the path towards justice and healing for all survivors of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.