'Lives were ruined by what they did'
IT was supposed to be a place of safety and trust.
But one north Cork woman abused in the Diocese of Cloyne found her trust in her local cleric replaced by an unending nightmare of shame and betrayal.
The woman, who does not want her identity to be revealed, has since rebuilt her life despite the trauma of having been abused before she was even 14 years old. In an almost unbelievable breach of trust, she was abused by two Cloyne clerics for a period lasting several years.
It took years to find the courage to bring the abuse to light, only to find that the diocese was dragging its feet over numerous abuse complaints.
"I was abused by two priests over a period of time starting from the late 1970s and running into the early 1980s," she said.
"It is the hardest thing to finally decide this -- that I am right. That I did nothing wrong. They were wrong. I really would advise anyone to go through the (justice) process."
Now, like other Cloyne victims, she wants those responsible to be held to account.
"Lives were destroyed because of what was done; lives were ruined," she said.
What has appalled the victims most is that those who should have been trying to protect them were apparently more focused on protecting the church from any whiff of controversy.
The worst hurt is over the fact that, had the diocese acted properly and immediately on the receipt of the first abuse allegations, at least one of the clerics involved would not have continued to be around children.
Another victim said that while justice helped, it was impossible to turn the clock back and restore lost innocence.
"When you are raped it takes a part of you away -- you don't even know where that part of you is gone," she said.