“White Picket Fence” is a reflection on abuse. The article began as part of my personal discernment prior to going to the seminary. As the concept evolved, I realized I needed some guidance and feedback. I consulted a highly respected professional psychologist with experience in abusive behavior. I have used this reflection with my family to better understand the dynamics of our family history.
At the seminary I was encouraged by my professor to develop the concept as a term paper project in my course on Christian Anthropology. During the academic research I discovered a good deal of research regarding the abuser. However, it surprised me to discover that so little formal research has been done from the perspective of victims, the family and close friends of abusers.
The damage to victims cannot be overstated. Since ordination to the priesthood I have encountered many situations in which this reflection has been useful for my parishioners and me. I share this reflection with the intention of helping others who find themselves challenged with a history of abuse, as abusers or as victims, or both. Experience has taught me a great respect for the work done by Al-Anon, as well as Alcoholics Anonymous. At the same time, I encourage further discussion on the topic.
Fr. Mark Hamlet
Sacred Heart Parish