To provide pastoral care, support and resources to victims-survivors of clerical sexual abuse and their loved ones in their efforts to achieve psychological, emotional and spiritual healing.
The Office of Assistance Ministry was first established by the Archdiocese in 1992 to respond to the sexual abuse of minors by Archdiocesan clergy. Joseph Cardinal Bernardin was instrumental in establishing Assistance Ministry following the recommendations of the first-ever Cardinal’s Commission on Clerical Misconduct. Francis Cardinal George has carried on with his commitment and support to this important ministry. Over the years, we have accompanied many victims-survivors of clerical sexual abuse on their healing journeys.
As we have learned more about the extent of childhood sexual abuse in our society, we have widened the scope of some Assistance Ministry services to include support and healing such as support groups, counseling, family support, prayer and reflection for all victims-survivors of childhood sexual abuse, regardless of who the perpetrators may have been.
The Office of Assistance Ministry and its professional staff recognize that for many victims-survivors it is difficult to imagine finding the courage to let officials of the Catholic Church know that they were sexually abused by a priest or church personnel. Therefore after a formal allegation is made, the office offers a variety of services to assist victims-survivors of sexual abuse and their loved ones in their effort to achieve psychological, emotional, and spiritual healing. Some of these services include counseling, spiritual direction, support groups and other social services agreed upon by the victim and the Office of Assistance Ministry. Since its creation as one of the first victim assistance ministries in the United States, it has provided services and support to over 400 victims-survivors and their family members.
Thomas P. Tharayil, LCSW, BCD, Director
Ruth Robinson, BSW, Assistant Director
The Office of Assistance Ministry offers the following programs to honor its mission to victims-survivors of sexual abuse and their loved ones. We have coordinated with other professionals to provide psychological, emotional, and spiritual healing. Due to space limitations, first priority will be given to those who have not participated in past programs offered through Assistance Ministry in the past. For more detailed information, call (312) 534-8256.
The Archdiocesan Office of Assistance Ministry offers half-day workshop for family members of victims-survivors of childhood sexual abuse. For more information and to register, call (312) 534-8256.
If you are an adult victim/survivor of childhood sexual abuse, it is possible that you may have experienced Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD has four types of symptoms: reliving the event, avoiding situations that remind you of the event; feeling numb and feeling keyed up. If you would like to learn more or take a PTSD screen, visit the National Center for PTSD.
Counseling and medication are the two main types of treatment for PTSD. However not all counseling has been proven equally effective. According the National Center for PTSD, the evidence based research supports the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as the most effective treatment. This typically involves meeting with your therapist once a week for 3-6 months.
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a CBT in which you learn skills to better understand how a trauma changed your thoughts and feelings. It will help you identify trauma related thoughts and change them so they are less distressing. Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy is a CBT in which you talk about your trauma repeatedly until the memories are no longer upsetting. To learn more about PTSD, treatments, research and get the PTSD coach application, visit www.ptsd.va.gov .