"The Porters are the foundation. No one sees the foundation when you build the house," said Gately, 51, a mental health counselor who was 14 when a priest from New York came to stay with his family near Boston. The priest molested him, said Gately, who had been an altar boy and president of his town's Catholic Youth Organization.
"I've known this [current scandal] was coming, at least since 1966," Gately said. "I'm not the least bit surprised by the numerous acts or by the number of clergy. And I'm not surprised by the denial from church officials."
The catharsis has a cost, he added. "Many of us feel extremely re-traumatized. This has been the most painful five or six months for me since the 1960s."
But, he said, the discomfort is outweighed by the opportunity to talk openly. "We were not allowed to express it to ourselves, or to our parents," he said. "When there is literally a 200-pound monkey on your back and you can't tell anybody--nobody sees it and you are a kid, you have no authority at all--well, finally, there is that sense of being heard."
Psychologist Ann Webb of Wellesley, Mass., also was inspired by the Porter victims to speak publicly about her abuse. A priest molested her for six years, beginning when she was a kindergartner, the 49-year-old said. The archdiocese in Rhode Island, where the abuse occurred, eventually agreed to pay for her psychotherapy but did not impose a gag order.
After years of holding their stories inside, Webb said, victims finally have a common agenda: "For people to listen, to not feel like we're the guilty ones--which all of us grew up feeling."
But some victims have other forms of restitution in mind as well. Patrick McSorley, 27, was one of 86 alleged Geoghan victims who signed a settlement with the Boston archdiocese estimated at $15 million to $30 million. The church backed out of the agreement at the last minute, claiming it did not have the funds to pay the swarm of additional alleged Geoghan victims who recently have come forward. Geoghan is serving a nine- to 10-year prison sentence.
McSorley, an unemployed electrician, says he still recalls how Geoghan took him out for ice cream, then raped him in the car on the way home. The ice cream melted down his arm.
If he could make church leaders feel the emotional tornado that has raged inside him since 1986, McSorley said, "I would take that as payment." Barring that, "the only way to do it is to hit them, hit them hard and hit them in the pocketbook."