National Catholic Reporter

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The sad legacy of sexual abuse

 |  NCR Today

The horrific pain and suffering caused by sexual abuse is described with brutal honesty in a 4,000-word suicide note left by a renowned internet programmer who committed suicide last week.

Bill Zeller, whose father was an evangelical pastor, described a childhood of physical and sexual abuse and its lifelong legacy of darkness that he ultimately felt he could never overcome. The 27-year-old Princeton PhD candidate posted the note online.

While extremely difficult to read, it should be required reading for those in the Catholic hierarchy who deal with the sexual abuse crisis in the church so they remember the tremendous, lifelong wounds such abuse leaves. His words echo those of other abuse victims I've interviewed and read about.

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"I often wonder what life must be like for other people. People who can feel the love from others and give it back unadulterated, people who can experience sex as an intimate and joyous experience, people who can experience the colors and happenings of this world without constant misery," he wrote. "I wonder who I'd be if things had been different..."

May his soul finally find the peace he could not find on this earth.

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