A group called “SNAP” — the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests — has a northeast Iowa chapter, and its co-founder is hoping to expand the group into other areas of the state. The northeast Iowa chapter of SNAP — the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests — is already holding monthly meetings in Dubuque, Hudson, Mason City and Cedar Rapids. Chapter co-founder Steve Theisen of Hudson says they hope to start chapters in Davenport, Des Moines and Sioux City soon. Theisen says he got involved in the group because he was abused as a child in a Dubuque Catholic Church. Theisen says when the priest abuse scandal broke in the Boston Diocese in 2002, ” it just kind of all surfaced again” and he says he knew he had to try to help other victims. Theisen says he got a lot of help from counselors, and the love of his family and friends. Theisen says he’s one of the fortunate ones. “I’m kinda surprised, sometimes, why I’m standing upright,” he says. Theisen says it’s important to reach out to other survivors, to let them know they’re not alone. He hopes priests and nuns “will be honest and truthful” someday, so victims and parishes can heal. Theisen says the group’s primary focus is not about forming legal strategy to sue the church, but aims to find ways to help victims heal. Theisen says there’s another target audience, too as they hope parishioners become part of their group, too, because some victims are afraid to go to church for fear of the reactions from their neighbors in the pews. You can reach the Northeast Iowa SNAP chapter at 319-610-2501, and Theisen says you can call him at work, too, at 319-231-1663. If you’re on-line, the national Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests is at www.snapnetwork.org. Theisen passed leaflets out at two Iowa City Catholic churches on Sunday — churches that were served by a priest who’s now under investigation for abusing a boy in 1998.
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