Have you seen The Keepers on Netflix? The seven-episode series focuses on the 1969 disappearance and murder of Baltimore nun Catherine Cesnik, as investigated by two of her former students, as well as an allegedly wide-ranging cover-up that protected a priest accused of sexual abuse at the Catholic high school where Cesnik taught.
I've been watching this heart-wrenching series and relating on many levels. For one thing, the topic of repression is spotlighted. As a woman who repressed the sexual abuse I endured from ages 3-6, I can relate to hearing about how the memories come back, the shame and guilt that bubbles up, and the emotional pain associated with all of it.
Sometimes I think to myself that I repressed the memories of being raped mainly because I was so young, but watching this series and hearing a woman who repressed abuse that happened to her starting at age 14 was another reminder that it truly doesn't matter the age. If the experiences are so horrific the mind cannot deal, repression happens. Just as common is the fact that most of us who have repressed memories of abuse tend to start to recover them around age 40. I can only guess that at 40, we are "whole" enough to be able to handle putting the pieces of our life together at that point.
In addition, in the series, one of the women who was abused by the Catholic priest talks about being threatened with her life, and the lives of her family, if she told anyone what was happening. It made me wonder what my relative said to me to keep me from telling anyone. I intutiively feel like it was a mixed bag—fear-inducing threats coupled with supportive, loving manipulation. I'm not entirely sure, though, and feel the need to go a little further into the dark abyss of my memory, if I can.
I truly believe everyone should see this documentary. It shines a light on a problem we all know plagues our world but many of us don't have the stomach to really see just how big of a problem we're facing for generations to come. It's beyond time to dive into the deep end on this one.
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