Gabriel Byrne: “I experienced sexual abuse”

The "In Treatment" actor opens up about the "known and admitted fact of life" as a young Irish altar boy

Topics: Sexual abuse, Broadsheet,

As Pope Benedict summons Irish bishops to Rome next month to address recent revelations concerning the Church’s shoddy handling of sexual abuse by priests in Ireland, yet another victim has spoken out – actor Gabriel Byrne.

Speaking on Irish television this week,  the 59-year-old actor said of his time as a young altar boy, “Unfortunately, I experienced some sexual abuse. It was a known and admitted fact of life amongst us that there was this particular man, and you didn’t want to be left in the dressing room with him.” He went on to tell of further sexual abuse by clerics after moving to England when he was 11, when he began training to become a priest. “It didn’t go on over a prolonged period but it happened at a very, very vulnerable moment.”

The bombshell comes on the heels of a scathing 2009 report by The Dublin Archdiocese Commission into the Archdiocese’s handling of child sexual abuse involving a staggering “172 named priests and 11 unnamed priests” between 1975 and 2004. That’s in just one Archdiocese — the same one Byrne spent his childhood years earlier. “One unifying strand in all of the complainants’ evidence,” the report stated, “was the sense of dismay and anger felt by them that their Church, in which they had placed the utmost faith and trust, had in their view, duped and manipulated them over the years and that it had done so in order to preserve its reputation and its assets.”



Byrne, meanwhile, who has been forthright about his struggles with depression and alcoholism, admitted similar sentiments. “I didn’t think it severely impacted me at the time. But when I think about my later life, and how I had difficulties with certain issues, there is the real possibility they could have been attributable to that.”

Like Tyler Perry’s revelation last fall of physical and sexual abuse, Byrne’s is a major and high-profile move toward freeing victimhood from stigma – especially among males. “It took many years to come to terms with it,” Bryrne said, “and to forgive those incidents that I felt had deeply hurt me.”

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "Gimme Shelter: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream." Follow her on Twitter: @embeedub.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Rose Jay via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Labrador Retriever

    These guys are happy because their little brains literally can't grasp the concept of global warming.

    Hysteria via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    German Shepherd

    This momma is happy to bring her little guy into the world, because she doesn't know that one day they'll both be dead.

    Christian Mueller via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Golden Retriever

    I bet these guys wouldn't be having so much fun if they knew the sun was going to explode one day.

    WilleeCole Photography via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Bulldog

    This dude thinks he's tough, but only because nobody ever told him about ISIS.

    Soloviova Liudmyla via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Beagle

    This little lady is dreaming about her next meal-- not Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

    Labrador Photo Video via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Yorkshire Terrier

    This trusting yorkie has never even heard the name "Bernie Madoff."

    Pavla via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Poodle

    She is smiling so widely because she is too stupid to understand what the Holocaust was.

    Aneta Pics via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Boxer

    Sure, frolic now, man. One day you're going to be euthanized and so is everyone you love.

    Dezi via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    French Bulldog

    He's on a casual afternoon stroll because he is unfamiliar with the concept of eternity.

    Jagodka via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Rottweiler

    Wouldn't it be nice if we could all be this care-free? But we can't because we are basically all indirectly responsible for slavery.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>