Del Boudreau hopes his book will encourage victims of sexual abuse to open up about their experiences.
ERIC BOURQUE PHOTO
By Eric Bourque
Five years after going public with his story of being sexually abused by a priest when he was a boy, Del Boudreau has put his story in a book, one he hopes will encourage others with a similar story to talk about it.
In the book, Deliver Us From Evil, Boudreau talks about growing up in Wedgeport and about the prominent role of the church in the community at that time.
Among other things, he recalls being chosen to be an altar boy – considered an honour at the time – and recounts how the abuse began.
He was about 10 years old when it started, he said, but it wasn’t until more than a half-century later, when he was 65, that he shared details of the abuse with his family before going public.
In early 2009 Boudreau saw a story in the Vanguard about two Wedgeport natives – including his younger brother – who said they had been abused when they were boys by Adolphe LeBlanc, the parish priest in Wedgeport for about a decade in the 1950s and 60s. After reading the article Boudreau contacted this newspaper and told his own story, saying he had been abused by the same priest. (Adolphe LeBlanc died in 1971.)
Telling his story had a great therapeutic effect, he said, removing a huge weight from his shoulders.
Remembering what it was like before his decision to talk, he said, “I was going to die with it, like a lot of men.”
Indeed, he says, many others have since approached him with their own stories – stories similar to his.
“You just can’t imagine how many men come to me now and still haven’t told their family and I respect that,” Boudreau said. “I know what they’re going through, but at least if you can share it with somebody, it’s a form of therapy.”
(Boudreau recalls how he kept his silence about the abuse even as the same priest who had abused him presided over his wedding in 1964.)
Boudreau started writing the book a couple of years ago and says he worked on it off and on since then. Most of it was written this year, he said.
He writes about how he turned to alcohol – “It was my best friend for awhile, then it was my worst enemy,” he said – and also how, with some help, he gave up drinking and began a successful new career.
Referring to his decision to go public about the abuse in 2009, he says the relief of opening up was “just unreal.”
He understands that some people would be critical, wondering why he waited so long to come forward, but he says they have to consider the culture of the time when the abuse occurred – how strong the church was in the community, how priests were regarded. Besides, he says, sex would have been hard enough to discuss with his family under the best of circumstances.
“You didn’t talk sex with your parents even if it was normal, let alone something like that,” he said, referring to the abuse. “And then the embarrassment, the guilt, was it your fault, you know, all those things.”
On that last one – the question of fault – Boudreau makes a point of noting the words with which he ends his book, words directed at those who may have been sexually abused and who perhaps, at least in part, blame themselves.
“Never, ever forget that it was not your fault,” he writes.
The Diocese of Yarmouth and the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth eventually reached a financial settlement with Boudreau and others who said they had been sexually abused by priests.
Boudreau’s book sells for $20 and is available at various locations, including the tuna museum and Shoppe a Carl in Wedgeport, Carl’s Store and the Cell book shop in Tusket, the Acadian village in Lower West Pubnico and Rendez-vous de la Baie in Church Point.