Waking To a Nightmare

One of the best-known, documented cases of Dissociative Amnesia (repressed memories) involved Frank Fitzpatrick, who at age thirty-nine, remembered that a Catholic Priest named Father James Porter had drugged and raped him at age twelve.

Frank blocked the abuse from his mind for decades. In 1989, unknown to him at the time, his memory was returning when Frank says he felt “rotten” about himself, but didn’t understand why. Frank also struggled with the false idea that he was gay. He did not understand these feelings, but it haunted him, and he confessed his gay feelings to his wife.

One day, for no particular reason, Frank had a memory of mincemeat pie –a dish he had disliked since boyhood. In a burst of free association, he suddenly remembered an incident that had taken place when he was a 12-year-old altar boy attending St. Mary’s School, a Roman Catholic parochial school in North Attleboro, Massachusetts.

Father Porter

Father Porter

Frank began to remember being served mincemeat pie by Father Porter, a parish priest. Frank recalled getting drowsy and falling asleep—and awakening to a nightmare. “I was waking up, coming out of a drugged state,” says Fitzpatrick, now 42,”and Porter was on top of me, raping me.”

It was suddenly clear why he thought he might be gay –his first experience with sex, was being raped by a man.

Frank took out ads and searched telephone directories in an attempt to find other victims of Father Porter. He gave speeches and put out a newspaper ad that read “Do you remember Father Porter?” The response was staggering. Eventually, one hundred thirty people came forward.

One report indicates Porter had 330 known victims.

By the time Frank Fitzpatrick recalled the abuse, Porter had left the priesthood and had gotten married, but Porter was later convicted in the Fitzpatrick trial, and for molesting a babysitter. Porter received eighteen to twenty years in prison.

If at least 330 victims of one perpetrator can remain silent for decades, there must be millions who remain silent forever. The reported cases of child sexual abuse can only be the tip of the iceberg.


Source notes:
How Deep The Scars Of Abuse? Some Victims Crippled; Others Stay Resilient, Sandra G. Boodman Washington Post, Monday, July 29, 2002; Page A01
Court TV, Revelations
Isolation and Silence: A Male Survivor Speaks Out About Clergy Abuse by Frank L. Fitzpatrick
Father James Porter, Crime Library
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4 Responses to Waking To a Nightmare

  1. melissa lee says:

    I am thinking that drugging kids must not be that uncommon and this must add to the difficulty in recalling memories.. So, glad he had the courage to look for others. xo Melissa Lee

    • Alethea says:

      I feel Frank F. had incredible courage. He must have been really angry when he remembered what happened to him. Sometimes anger is used as a springboard for good. I admire him tremendously for standing up against The Church, Catholics who probably disbelieved him, and against his own fears.


  2. Little Nel says:

    An evil man in a Catholic priest’s robe, who sought to defile and violate innocent little boys with drugs and sex. This man betrayed every vow he ever made in the priesthood while he devoured children in the name of God.

    Thanks to Frank Fitzpatrick and his efforts this criminal is behind bars where he belongs. Father Porter can enjoy all the rest of his life with other criminals.

  3. Kevin F says:

    Yes, Alethea, I believe you’re right. Especially for boys as they experience extra confusion, shame and guilt being sexually assaulted by a man. Even if this boy had remembered his experience and spoken out, a lot of people would have responded by telling him to shut up and go away. Blocking out the memory is the most common coping mechanism for children.
    Also, many of this priest’s victims would probably have acted out unconsciously by sexually assaulting other children. Therefore the total number of people directly and indirectly affected by his actions could well be in the thousands

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