Two recent posts at Biltrix, What It’s Like Hearing Confession (reblogged from last year) and Confession Made Easy, got me thinking about an atypical experience of confession I had when I was 17 years old. Towards the end of the summer before my senior year in high school I was sexually assaulted by my horse back riding instructor’s husband. I had known my horse back riding instructor and her husband since I 5th grade. So when the professionals tell you abuse or sexually assaults mostly are committed who you know I can testify that that is the truth. I needed to tell someone but because I didn’t want to lose the joyful experience of riding horses but I didn’t want a person to know who would be required to tell the police or who would tell the police of their own free will. I needed someone where I was guaranteed that what happened to me could and would not be told told to any other person. A newly ordained priest had been transferred to my parish over the summer. He assisted with the youth group and was a very kind man so one time when we were both at a youth event I pulled him aside and told him that I needed to tell him something under the seal of the confessional but it wasn’t necessarily a sin. I asked if that was possible. He said Yes and for me to go ahead. At that time I revealed to him that I had been sexually assaulted.
Fast forward about 6 months later. I did horrible on a Spanish quiz. This was unusual for me. My Spanish teacher could tell something was wrong so she had me stay after class. In talking after class I revealed to her that something had happened to me but was very vague about what specifically happened. That day I finally told the whole story to my principle and the police. I went to a Catholic high school and was treated so well by those at the school who knew what had happened to me. That day that I told my pastor at the high school even took me out to lunch while the principle informed my mom of the situation.
I told the police that the only person I had told about the sexual assault not long after I had been sexually assaulted was a priest. They asked if I could get him to tell what I had told him. I told the police it was under the seal of confession and I would have to find out how I could give my consent to release the priest from his confessional obligation, seal of confession. I talked to my pastor at Church. The pastor talked to the priest who got back to me, and it was arranged for me to officially release the priest from the seal of confession forbidding him from revealing what I told him.