Open Letter to Survivors of Sexual Abuse From Ron Martin
This letter has taken me several weeks to write. I have so much that I want to say to you and I wanted to find the right words to express my feelings appropriately.
My name is Ron Martin. I am the brother of David Martin. David took his own life on April 6, 2002. For my family this was a life altering day. The death of my brother shattered our world. It was unimaginable to us why David would take his own life. He was married, had two wonderful sons, a thriving construction business on the west coast of Canada and the world seemed to be his oyster.
Although David outwardly appeared to have a great life, there always seemed to be something missing. No-one could ever figure out what that was. He often appeared to be far away. He suffered from alcohol addiction, a failed marriage and never seemed to be able to have a real father/son relationship with his boys, although it was certain that he loved them deeply.
The sadness in Dave’s eyes had us often wondering? It wasn’t until after we read his suicide note that we could finally piece together Dave’s life. He revealed in that note that he had been sexually abused as a young boy by a catholic priest. I can’t bring myself to give Hugh V. the respect of calling him father and so I will never refer to him by that title. This is where our relationship as a group begins.
I know personally how David and all of you feel because I too am a victim of the same abusive person. I like many of you have lived in silence carrying this horrible secret through everyday of my life. It wasn’t until after Dave’s death that I revealed to my parents and family about my own suffering.
David had gone missing for over two weeks and my sister and I flew to the west coast to be with my sister-in-law and our other family who lived near Dave. Finally after sixteen days his body was discovered by two hikers in the woods off an old logging road. My brother Jamie and I identified David’s body for my parents. This was probably the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. I made a vow to my brother that I would see justice served, that the church and its representatives would be held accountable for his death.
Unfortunately the animal that caused all of us such pain died before we could have him convicted but his death doesn’t lessen the responsibility of the church.
Sometime after David’s death I contacted John McKiggan about suing the Diocese of Antigonish in a civil suit to make them accountable for their actions. You see, I had talked to the Bishop on several occasions requesting that the diocese take ownership for what had happened and that they issue a public statement offering their apologies for the same. The diocese said they could not do this because it would be the end of them. The only thing that I had asked for was an acceptance of responsibility for what happened to David, to us, and all the others who had been abused by a representative of the church.
After the death of Hugh V. John and I talked at length about what should happen next. As more and more of you contacted John it became apparent that we should sue the diocese as a group. I promised myself that I would do my very best to have accountability from the diocese and the best possible system in place that would give you a proper financial settlement.
I am still a practicing Catholic and I had hoped that my church would do the right thing. It has been a very frustrating journey. I have found the process grueling, often wondering why I care so much about a church that continues to revictimize it’s members. I know that many of you have left the Catholic faith or lost your faith completely and I can fully understand why you have done so but what I can’t understand is how the church can allow this to continue.
I have instructed John to file a class action suit against the Antigonish Diocese on our behalf. I know this will be a difficult thing but I don’t think we have any other choice. Each one of us has suffered greatly and the persons responsible need to be held accountable. Let’s bind together like brothers and sisters and with the help of a tremendous lawyer and friend and force the hand of the diocese by filing the class and moving forward.
We can not allow the church to walk away from this. We have proven by our will to survive that we are strong people who although harmed and broken can seek the truth with our heads held high.
Finally I want to say how sorry I am that you had to suffer such loss in you personal life. There are many others who have been affected by this man whom we might never know. For them I pray. I hope that you have been able to find someone to trust with your life. I am so blessed to have found a beautiful wife who loves me unconditionally. I pray that you have found or will find someone who will be that special someone in your life.
I also want to thank those of you who came forward during the criminal investigation. I know it was a tremendous risk for you and my family is deeply touched and forever grateful. For those of you who didn’t come forward we perfectly understand. Both Dave and I were victims living in the same family and neither one of us knew about the other. It is probably the most difficult thing to say and you can only say it when you’re ready, so please know that we understand and don’t feel anything but support and love for you.
I pray that this letter finds you ok and living this day to its fullest.
For More Information Please Contact:
John A. McKiggan
McKiggan Hebert Lawyers