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Believe What You Want to Believe. Ultimately, this is a choice every person makes when it comes to difficult realities and shocking revelations. It is also the title of a book by Alicia Kristine and George Williams. This book is based on a true story and was originally written for personal therapy. This story deals with the painful and horrific subjects of child abuse and Satanic ritual and children facing abuse when the perpetrator is a trusted and admired Catholic priest. Because of the nature of this story, I feel it is appropriate to include my cautionary statements right away. This book contains descriptions of abuse from the perspective of a grade-school aged child and many incidents of violence, including murder and Satanic ritual, as witnessed by a child. This book is not appropriate for readers under 18 and I would personally advise all potential readers to approach this book with caution and be prepared for a number of highly disturbing scenes.
Sean Murphy, the youngest of seven children and his closest sister Janie are grade-school aged children when the story begins. One of their older brothers, Jason, is a troubled teen who has gotten into drugs. At the recommendation of their Priest, Father Paul, he is sent to a camp to get off drugs and get straightened out. Father Paul has gained great admiration in his church community through the work he is doing with youth. Jason's experience at the camp, however, is anything but positive. In spite of his odd behavior and the pleas for help he makes through his younger brother, the parents fail to recognize any warning signs. It isn't long before Father Paul creates an in for himself in the Murphy home through another troubled young man called Ziggy. Ziggy managed to gain the trust of Mr. and Mrs. Murphy, but his activities bring drugs and eventually violence to the home. Sean and Janie are witnesses to this violence and are threatened. As the story progresses, we see a chain of events that leaves these two children vulnerable to abuse from both Ziggy and Father Paul, and without any viable options to avoid or escape their situation.
With the many stories that have come out in recent years regarding child abuse by Catholic priests, many people have found the courage to speak up about their own experience, while many others have faced the shocking revelation that someone they trusted was not who he seemed. At the same time, many people may be wondering how such cases of abuse were allowed to occur and why so many victims remained silent for years and even decades. This story masterfully answers many of those questions. Having grown up in a Protestant church, I have little personal knowledge of the Catholic church and no personal experience in the Catholic church community. Through the story of Sean, Janie, and the Murphy family, I gained a great deal of insight into the series of events and circumstances that would lead a child victim to believe he or she has no way out. Sean and Janie are conditioned to believe the threats of their abusers by being forced to witness acts of violence. When they are later told that their family will all be killed if they tell, they have reason to believe that Father Paul or Ziggy can and will carry out that threat. With stories as shocking and outlandish as Father Paul practicing Satanism and including them in Satanic rituals, who would believe two children over the word of a trusted church leader? Sadly, their experiences with the police also lead them to believe that they would not be taken seriously and protected if they shared the knowledge and evidence they have.
While this story took place in the 1970s, there are many lessons to learn and apply today. We may never know how many children were victimized by a priest or other trusted person in their life and community, nor will we likely know if one of our co-workers or acquaintances was one of those victims. After reading this story, I have a greater appreciation for the struggles victims continue to face for the rest of their lives. I hope this book, difficult though it was to read, can help many others develop a greater sense of compassion and understanding for the suffering of others.
I have very little to criticize in this book except to say that I would have appreciated a brief warning statement regarding the disturbing scenes within the story, as this would have helped me prepare myself mentally and emotionally. I found very few errors in the text and the writing style and quality is superb. I am rating this book 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to adults who are ready to learn about the kind of experiences child abuse victims have faced and some of the long-term effects it can have.
Believe What You Want To Believe
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