The Oblates and the geographic solution to clergy sexual abuse

— Despite the failures of the geographical solution to clergy sexual abuse, Catholic religious orders as the Oblates have a long record of using it.

Americae sive novi orbis, nova descriptio, 1573.

By Rodolfo Soriano-Núñez

The Oblates have used the “geographical solution” before. One of their predator priests spent time in Mexico back in the Sixties.

Religion and Public Life: Argentina, Canada, France, Mexico, Paraguay, and the United States are among the countries where the Oblates have on the basis of the “geographic solution” to clergy sexual abuse.

Two weeks ago, Los Angeles Press published a report on the arrival of a Paraguayan Roman Catholic priest, a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate religious order, from his native country to Mexico.

At the time of the report, I’ve been in Mexico for at least six months. He’s got a low profile. There is no record of him participating as a priest in public functions carried out by the order.

After arriving to Mexico, Juan Rafael Fleitas López performed as an instructor at the schools where the Oblates train their so-called scholastics, which is how Catholic religious orders such as the Oblates call what other would be identified as seminarians: young students who aspire to become full members of the order and, in some cases, to become priests.

He was, in that regard, a pristine example of the so-called .geographic solution, which is an analyst how the forty-years-old clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church call the decision by some orders and even some diocesan bishops to move around priests with accusations of sexual abuse from one diocese to and another, if allowed, from one country to another.

One of the many examples of the “geographical solution” is, in Mexico and the United States, the way in which Norberto Rivera Carrera and Roger Michael Mahony, moved around from one country to the other and back again, Nicolas Aguilar Rivera, who at some point was point aptly called by the media in the native state of Puebla – a state-wide shame.

Norberto Rivera first sent Nicolas Aguilar Rivera (no family relationship with the Cardinal) from Tehuacán, 260 kilometers or 160 miles East of Mexico City, in the state of Puebla, to Los Angeles, California, during his first stint as bishop. Roger Mahony was, at the time, the almighty cardinal and archbishop of the largest Catholic diocese in the United States, with more than three million souls under his care.

Tehuacán, Puebla, East of Mexico City.

Aguilar Rivera was some sort of early revelation of the depth of the clergy sexual abuse crisis in Mexico back in the late 1980s, when this issue was kept concealed by the Roman Catholic hierarchy, and both the Mexican government and media.

Since I was able to move around from Tehuacán, a mid-size metro area in the Central state of Puebla, Mexico, to Los Angeles, California, and then back to Mexico, Aguilar is one of the most notable super-predators in the Mexican Catholic Church. Far from his crimes, both Norberto Rivera and Roger Mahony, provided the perfect settings and cover up for his actions.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles paid almost $13 million as compensation. Although only Aguilars victims in that district of the U.S. Catholic Church received the monies.

Victims for the hundreds

There is no official information as if some payments were made by the Mexican dioceses of Tehuacán, Puebla, or Mexico City, which had, at some point in time competence over Aguilars performance as a priest in Mexico, although he is known that some of his received some of his victims some sort of compensation as a way to prevent the scandal brought by the fact that Cardinal Rivera was called to testify in California, as they could be seen in this transcript of his declaration from 2007.

Back in 2007, U.S. and Mexican media estimated Aguilars victims as at least ninety minors. I’ve repeatedly challenged that number, but there’s no reason to believe his word, since he was able to move around between both countries.

In Mexico, he was able to move officially between at two least Catholic dioceses: Tehuacán and Mexico City, although the last reports about his active life, from the mid to late aughts, about duties performing as a priest in the State of Mexico, the Mexican state surrounding Mexico City, which has had the largest number of separate dioces since the early 1990s.

Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop emeritus of Mexico City and Mario Delgado, current leader of the ruling party Morena in Mexico and alumn of NXIVM, 2012.

Because of the .geographical solution, Aguilar was able to find new unsuspecting victims, every time his bosses in the Catholic hierarchy decided the spin of the wheel of fortune, giving him a new chance as even priest if he was not ever appointed as pastor of a parish after Mahony received him with a temporary appointment back in 1987.

It was only in 2009, more than 20 years after the first accusations against Aguilar emerged, that Pope Benedict XVI expelled him from the priesthood. Only then, the Mexican Catholic bishops publicly admitted that Aguilar was a predator sex. Although there was no official admission as to the number of his victims in either Mexico or the United States, Mexican newsmagazine Proceso estimated them in .more than a hundred minors.

And even if apologies have been issued by the three reigning Popes as to the extent and consequences of clergy sexual abuse, and many leaders of the Catholic Church mimic the reigning Pope-s rhetoric on the issue, at a global scale, the fact: there is an impulse to move priests with accusations of different types of sexual misconduct as a way to give them a second, third, or fourth chance in the exercise of the priesthood, with little or not for the potential consideration of risk of moving.

The fact that I rushed to publish my findings as to the potential destination of Juan Rafael Fleitas López as an associate priest in the parish of St. Mary Magdalene in Tequisistlán, Oaxaca, was to prevent new abuses.

It was necessary since it is no record of a current active interest of the Mexican Catholic hierarchy on addressing the issue, as it proved by the fact that less than half the Mexican dioceses have set up a commission to prevent abuses, as it proved last week on these pages.

Even more, since there is no indication that the current Mexican federal government will pursue the accusations made by survivors, their friends, and advocates back in 2017.

Changing of the guard

In that regard, my sources on the issue tell me that Fleitass appointment fell to Tequisistlán fell apart, although he spent time there in March, when other parishes managed by the Oblate order had changes of the pastors serving them. The most recent of such changes at the diocese of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, was March 4th.

The changing of the guard happened at San Pedro Martir Quiechapa, as told by the entry at the Oblates official Facebook account that appears immediately after this paragraph or here.

After that, on March 23rd, the Oblates had a change in management at the parish of Christ Our Lord and Savior, at the diocese of Iztapalapa in Eastern Mexico City, as told by this entry from the same official Facebook reported immediately after this paragraph.

So, this is the season when the Oblates shuffle their priests from one parish or work to another. This is a healthy practice that forces priests and other religious personnel to confront new challenges and figure out new ways to do their work. It is not these regular changes that constitutes the practice of the .geographic solution to the issue of clergy sexual abuse.

Moreover, the Oblates are not new at using the .geographical solution to move around the priests and religious brothers who have faced accusations of sexual abuse. There is a long record of that order moving around priests and religious brothers from one of their provinces to another, to either cover up for the sexual abuse already perpetrated by some of them or as some sort of preventative measure, when one higher figures out that something is wrong with one of their subordinates in one of their provinces.

Even if Bishop is not seen as an accurate representation of whatever has happened as far as the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church on a global scale, since it has been a clear, even if undesired bias for the information coming from the English-speaking Catholic world, in their pages it is possible to find information that accurately depicts how, at least in the English- andspeaking Spanish-speaking Catholic worlds, the .geographical solution has been used by the Oblates and many other Catholic religious orders to move around priests with accusations of sexual misconduct.

More than Sixty Oblates

In that regard, Bishop Accountability has identified in one of its pages a minimum of 59 Oblates priests accused of clergy sexual abuse in U.S. and Canadian dioceses. On the top of that, in the Spanish-speaking pages of the same website there is information about one more Oblate, Luis Sabarre, originally from the Philippines but acting as a priest in the archdiocese of Mendoza, Argentina.

Also, there is information about at least two other members of this religious order, Gustavo Ovelar and Francisco Bareiro. The story linked above, the first of this series on the Oblates, mentions Bareiro and the impact of the accusations on him have. Both Ovelar and Bareiro are Argentine nationals. The Paraguayan newspaper La Nación described them back in 2016 as they are hiding out in Paraguay. That newspaper mentioned the fact that they were accused in 2014 of sexual assault.

A second Spanish-speaking page referenced at Bishop Accountability details how up until 2020, the Oblates kept their silence regarding the whereabouts of Ovelar and Bareiro.

What is worse. The English-speaking database of Bishop Accountability added data recently about the abuse perpetrated by French Oblates Edouard Meillieur and Johannes Rivoire in French and English-speaking missions in Canada going all the way back to the 1950s. Both are also representatives of the “geographical solution” as practiced by the Oblates.

In the green circle, Paraguayan Oblate priest Juan Rafael Fleitas López at a ceremony in Paraguay.

It is noticeable that the statement issued by the Canadian province of the Oblates seems to be aware of the need to use the right words when talking about the pain brought by members of the order to their victims and the communities they were supposed to be serving.

The statement issued by the leader of the Oblates in Canada, Father Ken Thorson, reads “the Oblates” recognize the tragic legacy of clergy abuse and are sincerely committed to support the Inuit Peoples who advocate for truth, justice, healing and reconciliation.

How could it be that if the Canadian Oblates seem to be aware of the “tragic” consequences of the .geographic solution, used by the French and Canadian provinces of that order back in the 20th century, the Mexican and Paraguayan leaders of the same orders are so willing to put the Mexican faithful at risk of being abused by Juan Rafael Fleitas López?

That is the saddest aspect of the institutional neuroses affecting the Catholic Church nowadays.

Predator Priest

What is worse, in the English-speaking database available at Bishop Accountability, it is possible to find information about one predator priest moving from the United States to the very same diocese of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, where the leaders of the province of the Mexican province tried to reinstate Fleitas López as they preside with the blessing of bishop Crispín Ojeda Márquez, the former auxiliary and none other than Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera.

I used the term “predator priest” knowingly and accurately. Bishop Accountability renders a short bio of Donald L. Stavinoha as he was killed back in 2007 but convicted in 1988, although the Texas authorities released him in 1991.

It is not clear if he assaulted or abused somebody at Tehuantepec, Mexico. We know, through a story published back in 1992 by Texan newspaper The Houston Chronicle, that I spent some time there between the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Jose de Jesús Clemente Alba Palacios was the bishop of Tehuantepec.

Oddly enough, Alba Palacios resigned his position as bishop of Tehuantepec back in 1970, when he was only 60 years old. Pope Paul VI appointed him auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Oaxaca, a strange move for a Roman Catholic bishop. Was it because of them then were issues related to abuse in Tehuantepec? God only knows.

As I am typing this story there is no official news about the destination of Juan Rafael Fleitas López. I know his appointment at Tequisistlán, diocese of Tehuantepec, fell apart, but there is no warranty that the leaders of the Oblate order in Mexico will not try to send him to any of his other parishes.

The only thing I know, for sure, is that Fleitas Lopez will not go back to be a priest at parish the Oblates have in Tijuana, Baja California. Although parish is in Mexico, it is not for the Mexican Oblates to decide who goes there. It is the Oblates of the United States who manages that parish as a “mission territory” in Mexico (see here and here too).

If Fleitas Lopez did something, it would be the Oblates in the United States, and under the laws of the United States would be liable. How lucky is the Mexican Catholic faithful of Tijuana, protected by U.S. Laws…

Complete Article HERE!

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Peace Activist & Advocate for Survivors of Church Sexual Abuse, Dies at 94

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, a longtime leader in the U.S. Catholic peace and justice movement, has died at the age of 94 in Detroit. He helped found Pax Christi and Bread for the World and was a war tax resister. He was also a survivor of sexual abuse in the church who was forced to resign in 2007 after he spoke out publicly in favor of an Ohio bill to extend the statute of limitations for cases of sexual abuse by clergy. In 2013, Bishop Gumbleton spoke to Democracy Now! about his work with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP.

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton: “Well, what really opened my eyes was when a friend of mine — in fact, the person who started SNAP — came to me and asked me to intervene with the local bishop, because the priest who had abused her, and who had also abused other people that she was aware of, was still functioning. And I said, ’That’s impossible.’”

Amy Goodman: “You were the bishop of Detroit, and he was in Toledo.”

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton: “Well, I was an auxiliary bishop in Detroit. But I was a friend of Barbara Blaine, the founder of SNAP, from decades — for decades. And when she came to me and told me this, I said, ‘Well, I’ll go see the bishop, and I’ll talk to him, and I’m sure he’s not going to continue to keep this covered up.’ Well, I went to see him, and he assured me, ’I’ll do something about it. I’ll take care of it.’ So I took him at his word, but nothing ever happened. And so, that made me realize that some of the, well, best bishops around were not dealing with this issue the way it needed to be dealt with. I mean, it just was terribly wrong to allow a priest to continue to function in a situation where he could abuse other children. And it turned out he was still abusing other people. And so, that” —

Amy Goodman: “The priest was.”

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton: “Yes, and the bishop was allowing this to go on.”

That was Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, who passed away Thursday at the age of 94.

Complete Article HERE!

Lawyer for sex abuse victims says warning others about chaplain didn’t violate secrecy order

Lawyer Paul Sterbcow, left, with his client, attorney Richard Trahant, talks to reporters outside the federal appeals court building in New Orleans, Wednesday, April 3, 2024. Trahant is appealing a $400,000 court sanction for allegedly violating a bankruptcy court secrecy order by alerting a school principal and a reporter that a suspected child predator was working as a chaplain at a high school.


A New Orleans attorney facing a $400,000 court penalty for warning a school principal and a reporter about a high school chaplain who was suspected of being a sexual predator took his case to a federal appeals court Wednesday.

Richard Trahant, who represents victims of clergy abuse, acknowledges having told a reporter to keep the chaplain “on your radar,” and that he asked the principal whether the person was still at the school. But, he said in a Tuesday interview, he gave no specific information about accusations against the man, and did not violate a federal bankruptcy court’s protective order requiring confidentiality.

It’s a position echoed by Trahant’s lawyer, Paul Sterbcow, under questioning from members of a three-judge panel at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Here’s my problem. I think I have a moral obligation to disclose something I find out about someone to protect them,” said Judge Priscilla Richman. “But the court has said unequivocally, ‘You are under a protective order. You cannot violate that protective order.’ I do it knowingly. I may have good intentions, but I do it knowingly. To me, that’s an intentional, knowing violation of the order.”

“Our position is that there was no protective order violation,” Sterbcow told Richman, emphasizing that Trahant was cautious, limiting what he said. “He’s very careful when he communicates to say, I’m constrained by a protective order. I can’t do this. I can’t do that, I can’t reveal this, I can’t reveal that.”

Outside court, Sterbcow stressed that it has been established that Trahant was not the source for a Jan. 18, 2022, news story about the chaplain, who had by then resigned. Sterbcow also said there were “multiple potential violators” of the protective order.

The sanctions against Trahant stem from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans’ filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2020 amid growing legal costs related to sexual abuse by priests. The bankruptcy court issued a protective order keeping vast amounts of information under wraps.

In June 2022, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Meredith Grabill ruled that Trahant had violated the order. In October of that year she assessed the $400,000 penalty — estimated to be about half the cost of investigating the allegations of the alleged protective order violation.

The appeal of the bankruptcy court order first went to U.S. District Judge Greg Guidry, who upheld the sanctions. But Guidry later recused himself from handling matters involving the bankruptcy case after an Associated Press report showed he donated tens of thousands of dollars to the archdiocese and consistently ruled in favor of the church in the case involving nearly 500 clergy sex abuse victims.

The bankruptcy case eventually was assigned to U.S. District Judge Barry Ashe, who last year denied Trahan’s motion to vacate the sanctions.

Richman at one point in Wednesday’s arguments, suggested that Trahant should have asked Grabill for an exemption from the protective order rather if he thought information needed to get out. It was a point Attorney Mark Mintz, representing the archdiocese, echoed in his argument.

“If we really thought there was a problem and that the debtor and the court needed to act, all you have to do is pick up the phone and call,” Mintz said.

Sterbcow said Trahant was concerned at the time that the court would not act quickly enough. “Mr. Trahant did not believe and still doesn’t believe — and now, having reviewed all of this and how this process worked, I don’t believe — that going to the judge was going to provide the children with the protection that they needed, the immediate protection that they needed,” Sterbcow said told Richman.

The panel did not indicate when it would rule. And the decision may not hinge so much on whether Trahant violated the protective order as on legal technicalities — such as whether Grabill’s initial finding in June 2023 constituted an “appealable order” and whether Trahant was given proper opportunities to make his case before the sanction was issued.

Richman, nominated to the 5th Circuit by former President George W. Bush, was on the panel with judges Andrew Oldham, nominated by former President Donald Trump, and Irma Ramirez, nominated by President Joe Biden.

Complete Article HERE!

Pope Defrocks Bishop Who Admitted Sexually Abusing Nephew

— Belgian bishop Roger Vangheluwe admitted 14 years ago that he sexually abused his nephew but faced no Vatican punishment.

Bishop Roger Vangheluwe


Pope Francis on Thursday defrocked a notorious Belgian bishop who admitted 14 years ago that he sexually abused his nephew but faced no Vatican punishment.

The case of Roger Vangheluwe, the emeritus bishop of Brugge, long ago became a symbol of the Catholic Church’s hypocrisy and dysfunction in dealing with cases of abuse. Not only was he allowed to quietly retire after the scandal broke in 2010, but the head of the Belgian church at the time, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, was caught on tape asking one of his victims to keep his abuse secret until the bishop left office.

The Vatican announcement that Francis had laicized Vangheluwe came a few months before the pope is due to visit Belgium, where the case would have been an unwelcome and problematic distraction.

Vangheluwe, 87, shot to international infamy in 2010 amid disclosures he had sexually abused his young nephew for over a dozen years when he was a priest and later a bishop. He later admitted he also abused a second nephew. All along, he made light of his crimes, describing his abuse as “a little game” that didn’t involve “rough sex.”

He was allowed to retire two years shy of the normal retirement age, but faced no further punishment. It was evidence of the Holy See’s general refusal at the time to sanction Catholic bishops even for admitted sex crimes.

The Vatican embassy in Belgium said in a statement Thursday that in recent months “grave new elements” had been reported to the Holy See’s sex abuse office that justified reopening the case.

It didn’t say what new information had been received. In recent months Belgium’s own bishops have grown increasingly public in their stated outrage at the Vatican’s refusal to take action against Vangheluwe.

In September, Antwerp Bishop Johan Bonny told Belgian broadcaster VRT that the Belgian bishops had asked the Vatican for years, in writing and in person, to defrock Vangheluwe but got no response.

In its statement, the Vatican embassy said that after Vangheluwe’s defense was heard, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith presented the case to Francis on March 8. Three days later, it said, Francis decided to accept the recommendation that Vangheluwe be laicized. It is the harshest punishment that the Vatican can hand down, but it just means that Vangheluwe is now a layman and cannot present himself as a priest.

He asked to be allowed to live in a retreat house “without any contact with the world” to dedicate himself to prayer and penitence, the statement said.

Lieve Halsberghe, a Belgian advocate for abuse survivors, said the belated laicization brought no justice to Vangheluwe’s victims and was a mere “PR stunt” ahead of Francis’ visit later this year to Leuven, where the pope is to commemorate the 600th anniversary of Belgium’s Catholic university.

“Images of child sexual abuse were found in 2011 on the man’s computer and charges were never laid, because Vangheluwe is protected in high places,” Halsberghe told The Associated Press. “The gesture of the Vatican today, after 14 years of charades with letters to and from the Vatican, is no more than a PR stunt of the Vatican, pressured by the Belgian bishops.”

The Vangheluwe scandal proved a watershed moment for the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic nation of 11.5 million, though he was never prosecuted criminally in Belgium because his actions exceeded the statute of limitations.

In the wake of the revelations, a special commission produced a report with harrowing accounts of Catholic clergy molesting hundreds of victims, some as young as two years old, and said the abuse led to at least 13 suicides. The head of the commission said that, in reality, the abuse was even worse but many victims could still not bring themselves to talk.

The scandal is by no means over: Belgium’s parliament is currently holding hearings on abuse, and just this week protesters demonstrated outside the French Catholic community where Vangheluwe went to live after he retired.

“Justice kneels before the church,” read a sign one of the protesters held.

The Vangheluwe scandal isn’t the only one that has rocked the Belgian church and laid bare its wretched legacy of abuse.

In 2019, the Vatican’s Caritas charity admitted that it knew for two years of pedophilia concerns about the Belgian Salesian priest, Luk Delft, who ran its operations in the Central African Republic. But Caritas only removed Delft after CNN began investigating. It turns out, Delft had been convicted of child sexual abuse and of possession of child pornography in 2012 by a Belgian court, but the Salesians moved him to Bangui, where CNN said it found at least two more victims.

Delft was laicized and formally ousted from the Salesian order on Sept. 9, 2021, a decision that was reported to Francis on April 9, 2022, Archbishop Franco Coppola, the Vatican ambassador to Belgium, said in an email Thursday to AP.

Francis in May 2022 named Delft’s former Salesian superior, the retired bishop of Ghent, Luc Van Looy, a cardinal — an honor Van Looy subsequently declined because of his poor record dealing with abuse. Van Looy was in charge of the Ghent diocese when Delft was convicted by the Ghent court of abuse in 2012.

In Nigeria, A Clergy Rape Survivor Turns Pain Into A Source Of Support For Others

Joshua Love was recently paid $15,000 by a Catholic religious order to keep quiet about his claim that two Franciscan Friars abused him as a child. Now he’s going public and talking about how he’s tried to heal.

By Chinonso Kenneth

LAGOS, Nigeria — Statistics compiled by Amnesty International in 2021 show that there is a culture of stigmatization and victim-blaming towards rape survivors. The result is a large percentage of rape and sexual assaults go unreported in Nigeria.

Paul Akinyemi Thomson was far more than a statistic. It was a reality he lived every day for 21 years. Born in 1986, Thomson told Religion Unplugged that his mother was sexually molested by the Reverend Kolawole Olaiya Thomson of a Cherubim and Seraphim church starting from age 12.

Thomson said his mother had to go live with the late reverend from a young age because her parents could no longer raise her. It was at the reverend’s home that Thomson’s mother conceived him and his elder sister after being raped multiple times.

“This man of God already had like 10 wives, very respected in the community. … Peopled loved him because he does miracles and all that,” Thomson said. “My mother was complaining to people that this man of God molested her but nobody listened to her because in Nigeria they blame the victim first. The molestation by the pastor continued until she got pregnant at age 17 and had my big sister, they had me three years later.”

Thomson and his sister continued to be abused by his father and other fmaily members, including being subjected to curses, voodoo and constantly called “omo eru,” a slur in the Yoruba language meaning “slave.”

“I was sexually molested too and even this year they were still calling I and my sister slaves,” he added. “In 1998, my dad used Deuteronomy 28 to curse me. Deuteronomy 28 is the worse chapter in the Bible, and the only chapter in the Bible, filled with curses, generational curses and my dad was using it to curse and swear at me.”

A 2021 study by the United Nations Population Fund found that 28% of Nigerian women between the ages of 25-29 have experienced some form of physical violence since age 15. The prevalence of sexual violence against women in Nigeria is further boosted by victim blaming, which has flourished in Nigeria as a prevailing attitude. This has the concomitant effect of discouraging victims from seeking justice, thus allowing abusers to continue with impunity.

“I’m just trying to rewrite what’s wrong … because everybody blamed my mom then and I can imagine, why are you blaming a 12-year-old girl? She is just 12! The man doing this is 50 years old,” Thomson said.

In 2014, Thomson started a nonprofit organization named after his mother – Comfort Empowerment and Advocacy Foundation (CEAF) — to raise awareness about sexual assault, domestic violence and child marriages and to also provide free shelter and psychotherapy support to survivors.

Based in Lagos, CEAF offers victims access to free psychological counselling and therapy. CEAF also operate an online portal through which individuals can report abuse for CEAF staff to follow up with civil authorities.

CEAF has assisted over nine people since its founding with free legal services, psychotherapy support and financial grants. Currently, CEAF’s safe shelter, meant to house survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence and child marriage, is 90 percent complete, Thomson said.

One of such beneficiaries is Nkiruka Onyebuchi, 29, who told Religion Unplugged she was trapped in an abusive relationship for six years until CEAF intervened and gave her the help she desperately needed.

“I was in my early 20s when we met and started living together because we were to get married but the abuse was a lot and I could not really tell anybody including my parents because I never forgot what my mother always said to me ‘if you want to stay in a marriage, you need to have patience’ so I thought it meant I had to be patient with everything,’” Onyebuchi said.

She eventually got pregnant, which led to an increase in the physical and mental abuse she had endured.

“I actually thought the beating was going to stop when I was pregnant, but it got worse until I had the baby but the baby died,” Onyebuchi said. “He usually says the reason he beats me is because I’m stubborn and I believed him.”

In January 2023, Onyebuchi’s friend introduced her to CEAF. As a result, Onyebuchi’s boyfriend was arrested by the police and made to sign an undertaking not to physically abuse her again.

Onyebuchi also received financial help to move out of her house and lease her own place, receive counseling and help with finding a job.

“If I didn’t have the therapy sessions, I would not be having this interview with you because I had insecurity issues,” she said. “I was very defensive and aggressive then. The counseling sessions really helped at least 60 percent. I still talk to my therapist from time to time.”

A major challenge for CEAF has been funding and finding partnership. Thomson has been funding CEAF out of his pocket and has not had much success partnering with others, he said, including the Lagos’ Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency.

“Since I started CEAF, nobody has actually contributed any money, so all of the money I’ve made has been invested into CEAF,” he said. “I’m doing this because of my mom. This is personal to me and this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Complete Article HERE!