[The following is the Victim Impact Statement which was read to the court in a Pembroke, Ontario court by “Victim B” on 17 September 2013. When he was about 12-years-old Victim B was sexually abused by Father Dan Miller ]
VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT
Being the victim of this crime has impacted my life in countless ways, the most significant of which I will attempt to outline in this statement.
For the last 43 years I have kept a deep dark secret that I could not tell to anyone. A secret so disturbing that it eats at the very core of my existence, my soul. I often wonder – how would my life have been different? Who will ever know except for God?
It took years to diminish the many abysmal thoughts that resulted from being a victim of this crime. I learned far too young that with enough alcohol and drugs, I could forget and numb almost anything. And I did. I had for the most part, put those thoughts in a box and stored them away deep in the depths of my mind.
As a young boy, why I went with Miller so many times I’ll never know. My father worked day and night except for Sundays, to provide a roof over our heads and food on the table. I was too young to understand why he had to be away from me so much. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized the sacrifices he made for us. Miller knew this and sensing my vulnerability, stepped right in to fill that void in my life.
I remember feeling that if I didn’t go with him when he asked; my mother would have known something was wrong. I was always worried that if I didn’t play along, someone would find out. And so I learned at an impressionable age how to become a deceiver, just like him. I had to put on another face to keep my loved ones and others from finding out what he was doing to me. What he was doing to me left me both confused and helpless. I used this mask throughout most of my life.
You, Miller were a predator searching for little boys you could use and control with outings at restaurants and movies, and such. He chose us very well, knowing which ones he could control with these gifts that were, for the most part, out of reach for most of us.
I still have a difficult time thinking about his mom’s house and what went on there. Miller’s voice is one that haunts me to this very day. I hear his moans of pleasure and his whispers. These memories are embedded in my head like a record that plays over and over and over again. I haven’t been able to change the record yet.
I think it is important to remember that a 12 year old kid back then is much different than one today. At that age I only thought a penis was used to pee with and didn’t fully understand what he was doing, or why. I had no older brothers who would tell me about these things. I certainly wasn’t going to tell anyone. This was a secret I would have taken to my grave. Because who would have believed me? At that time, Miller would have been moved to a different parish to continue and I would have been left here and been called a liar. I had no idea there were others, it simply never crossed my mind.
How does one keep a solemn face in front of a mother who can read him like a book? I am not sure if she ever suspected any wrongdoing. Why would she? He was a Priest and the trust and reverence that people had for him and other Priests was as close to being god like as we get in this world. Again, as a kid I felt honored to be with someone like that.
I blamed myself for many years, and carried the shame of what I let him do to me. My story seems to be the story shared by so many other victims. My life was consumed by shame, anger, substance abuse, living in constant fear of someone finding out my secret and being unable to finish anything I started. I was another high school dropout. Without an education, it was incredibly difficult to find satisfying work. I worked in [redacted] and other low paying jobs. . I was what many would describe as “pretty messed up”. Under my mask, no one knew how hurt I really was. It doesn’t take much to destroy a kid’s life and hand him a set of values which communicate that sex is just an act nothing more; like a one sided love affair, who cares what happens to the other person as long as you get what you want. It hurts me to think I was like this to all the girls I knew. It’s something I have to live with. You can mould a kid if you can get to him at an impressionable age, as Miller did with me.
I stopped going to church as soon as I could say “I didn’t want to go and I don’t have to”. It was a rule in our house that as long as you lived there then you must attend Mass every Sunday. If my parents only knew why I didn’t want to go, they might have stopped too. Why I had him Marry me and my wife, Baptize one of my children, I will never know. What the hell was I thinking? I wasn’t remembering. I had buried the facts.
As I got older I realized that what I went through wasn’t the norm. No one should ever touch a child. I would become extremely upset and felt very angry if I found out anyone was touching a child. Anyone that hasn’t been through an ordeal like this could never fully understand the extensive impact it can have on every aspect of a victim’s life. I felt such a deep rooted anger for so long that I forgot what I was angry at. I wouldn’t let anyone in. I used the code of the four “F’s” of a single man, as an adolescent and as a young man. I spent years of my life without truly loving or ever knowing what love is. I would like to apologize to all the sincere girls I may have used. For this I am truly sorry. There was nothing wrong with you; it was me that was defective, my wiring was messed up. My outlook on life was shaped at a very suggestible age. I never had a normal relationship with anyone except one girl and I screwed that up. I never got close to anyone. As soon as they started to get close I’d blow them away.
Sex to me was just an act and nothing more. I didn’t feel like I should, or even could let anyone in, much less get too close. Nothing has really changed in my life sexually.
Isn’t it ironic that I started drinking at the same time? Mr. Carew would have us think that this is nothing more than just a little tickling, a game of sorts. I’m here to tell you it was no game. There was more than just tickling and you know that. I don’t want to but I must face those demons and the defiling acts that he did to me. Life has been no bowl of cherries. Secrets like this as I’ve mentioned eat at the victims. I trusted Miller. I was a child; he was supposed to be the adult and even more than that. As time went on I learned how to block it and while it would surface every once in a while, I inadvertently drove it back with substance abuse. Others who have been traumatized, will understand what I mean. For 30 plus years almost all my money went to substance abuse. I owned nothing but a few clothes, and a guitar. The cars I had belonged to the bank.
Eventually I had enough of the lifestyle I was living. I was 27 years old when I met my [redacted]. If I really wanted to be close to someone, I knew that I had to take off the mask and let someone in, or I may lose out on any chance at all of happiness. I wasn’t getting any younger. At our marriage encounter we were told to bare all our secrets. I told [redacted], my wife-to-be, everything about me, and all the secrets I had, except this one. [redacted] told me that she was abused by an old man who had horses near where she lived back in [[redacted]. If I had told her then, we would have had something to share and work out together. The abuse that was done to her changed her forever too. She wears a mask also, to hide the hurt. To say we live and have a normal relationship would be a lie. We have each other and we hide the pain we share from others. Our relationship is built on love and not sex. It’s been like that since we’ve been married. Her abuser and my abuser stole what we could have had in terms of sexual intimacy. It seems that we work at our marriage twice as hard as others without a history of abuse.
Since the charges were laid and I was confronted with my past, this last year and a half has been a rollercoaster ride for me. I’m having a very difficult time putting this Genie back in the bottle without falling back to substance abuse. It has been my faith in Jesus Christ, the love and support of my family, and counselling that will hopefully get me through this ordeal, and it will certainly take time.
I am not sleeping and I have been having debilitating panic attacks. Anger is also something that I am trying to work through. Since mid-2012, I have been losing weight. I also find myself becoming reclusive, staying home all the time and only leaving for appointments or groceries. I’m behind in all my work around the house and projects. I just don’t feel like doing much of anything or going anywhere. I used to go to my sister’s on a bi-nightly basis. I can almost count on one hand how many times I’ve been there since the news broke. It’s a constant struggle to get motivated, I feel sick inside. I don’t know what it will take to get me out of this depression. I may not look it, but I feel it. Remember I learned at an early age how to hide my feelings and emotions, one of many masks developed in surviving sexual abuse.
Since the news broke my mother is also having a very hard time with this. She’s blaming herself for not protecting me and reading the signs. I see her hurt and her pain. Miller didn’t just hurt one child – he hurt our entire family unit. I didn’t think this would bother me as much as it has, but it does weigh so heavily on me. This last year and a half has been a difficult time for me and my family, and it won’t get any easier until this is finished.
And until he was charged, I had no idea of the scope of what has been going on inside our church from the bishops right on up. They knew about him as early as 1997 or earlier. This was a crime and they chose not to report this to the legal authorities.
I am as angry at them as I am with him. This is going on all over the world. All one has to do is open one’s eyes and look.
We may leave the court room today and everyone will go home to relax or maybe to have a drink. I won’t and none of the other victims likely will either. We are still learning how to deal with this pain. Remember, I put this in a box and drowned it with drugs and alcohol for years. If I told you how much, you’d likely never believe me.
If I had of had the strength back then to tell, what do you think would have happened? I can only go by what I’ve been reading and watching, what they do to Priest who got caught back then. Nothing! A move for him and not a soul to back up my story. We live in different times now. A world where for the most part this isn’t tolerated. It’s now up to our Judges to decide what to do with him and others who did this to innocent children.
While I can’t forget it, I have to, if I’m to live the way my Lord wants me to. He wants me to forgive you. What is forgiveness? My Therapist asked me, “How do you know if you have forgiven him?” I have pondered this for some time now. Mostly when someone forgives, they give that person a hug. This isn’t going to happen. When I say my prayers at night, I pray for him. He will need all the prayers he can get. I would like to think that he believes in God and only God can judge for what he has done to me and to the others that are here and the ones who aren’t. To say “I have already forgiven you” would just be words. However, I am on a long journey towards forgiving him. My abuser is the one that now has to live with the shame of his crimes, not me. Miller must realize that he must pay for these crimes. For my part, I can’t go back and change anything. I have to live with what I’ve been given. I really hope that as I continue my journey forward that I am able to restore a sense of comfort and serenity in my life. For now, the pain is still too great. I would not be so presumptuous as to suggest a sentence to His Honor today. But I will say that I hope whatever sentence is chosen sends a loud, clear and powerful message that these abuses to our society’s most vulnerable will not be tolerated.