I answered my friend's question in this way. I chose to stay in the church because it was not the church at large who abused me. In fact, they swiftly dealt with my abuser and booted him out after taking his collar so quickly that it would make your head spin. They did the right thing and I am grateful for that. I also chose to stay in the church because it's not God's fault that this happened. It took me a long time to come to this conclusion and, to be honest, I've only reached it very recently. God doesn't create us so that bad things can happen to us and he can laugh at our misery. Much like we hurt for our own children, so does God. Yes, bad things happen. They always will, but it's not God's fault that I came into contact with a sociopath. I also cognitively know that not every priest is bad. Priests in general, especially ones that wear collars, freak me out. I immediately look at them and think that they are sizing me up and seeing how they can use me for thier own gain. It's a trigger and an automatic emotional response. But in my head, I know I'm wrong. To say that every priest is bad simply because I had a bad experience with one would be like throwing out the whole bunch of bananas when only one is going bad. You'd miss out on a lot of good bananas if you did that.
I'm lucky that my mother instilled such a deep faith in me. At least I feel lucky. To some faith isn't that important or even necessary. Some cult or abuse survivors never go back to any church and that's okay. They take thier bad experience with religion and transform it into something new whether it is thier own form of spirituality or just by being a good person. The survivors of cults and spiritual abuse that I know are some of the kindest and compassionate people I have ever known. They've been through some stuff and want to help others. And some do that differently than I do. They take that bad banana and buy two more and make banana bread. They experiment with the recipe until they find what taste and texture they like best. And they survive.
Isn't that what it's all about? Survival? Whether you choose an organized religion or not or shy away from priests or embrace them or have meaningful talks with God or find some other avenue for peace within or eat bananas straight from the peel or bake them into banana bread or mash them into pudding, isn't about finding what is right for you in order to ensure your survival? Because after the physical and sexual and emotional and spiritual abuse doled out daily, hourly by our former leaders, it is an accomplishment to even live through the day sometimes.
But it gets better. Time doesn't heal every wound, but it does give us an opportunity to learn how to deal with issues and triggers that come our way. I remind myself that I am lucky. I got away. He cannot hurt me anymore....he is powerless.