Barbara Blaine, the founder and former president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, has died in Utah at the age of 61.
Barbara founded the non-profit organization, SNAP in 1988 years after she was abused as an eighth grader by a priest who taught at her Catholic school in her hometown, Toledo, Ohio.
When she realized that her pleas for help from Toledo’s bishop weren’t a concern, she realized that other survivors of clergy abuse could help each other.
Barbara Blaine, the founder of Survivors Networks of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), speaks during the presentation ceremony of Women of the Year Awards in 2002. She died Sunday at the age of 61
SNAP, which is comprised of volunteers, survivors and supporters, run and attend group meetings, meet with survivors and answer phone calls and emails from victims, according to the SNAP website.
In 1991, the very first SNAP Meeting was held at the Holiday Inn, Chicago.
Barbara died Sunday from SCAD (Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection) which is when a tear forms in a blood vessel in the heart.
Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal: By the numbers
3,400 sexual abuse cases
That’s how many credible cases of abuse had been referred to the Vatican from 2004 to 2014
2,572 priests sentenced to a lifetime of penance
Another 848 over the last decade had been defrocked. The others were sentenced to penance and other mild religious sentences.
That’s how much the Catholic Church in the U.S. spent between July 2013 and June 2014 on costs ‘related to child protection efforts and to allegations of clergy sexual abuse of minors’.
American Catholic priests were shown to have a distinct pattern of sexual abuse, with 64 percent of all allegations of abuse made against a priest by a male only, according to a detailed report by the John Jay Institute investigating child abuse in the Catholic Church from 1950 to 2002. Those males were young and more than 85 percent of them were 8 to 10 years old.
She was surrounded by her husband, Howard and sisters Marcia and Marian.
SNAP managing director, Barbara Dorris, said in a statement that ‘few people have done more to protect kids and help victims than Barbara Blaine’.
‘Her relentless advocacy enabled millions to eventually accept a long unbelievable reality: that tens of thousands of priests raped and fondled hundreds of thousands of kids while bishops hid these heinous crimes.’
‘She started – and for almost 30 years -worked extremely hard to help build the world’s most successful organization of child sex abuse victims. Her contributions to a safer society would be hard to overstate.’
The group gained prominence in 2002 after the Boston Globe’s stories on the sexual abuse scandal in which the newspaper uncovered that the Catholic Church was hiding years of the molestation carried out by priests.
In an 2002 interview conducted by the Boston Globe, she said: ‘A major part of the problem has been the desire of the bishops and church leaders to protect their image and to avoid scandal. In doing this, they are really creating a lot more scandal.’
She continued to say that before she and other members of SNAP were molested, church leaders knew.
‘Hundreds of us would not have been molested if the church authorities had removed these priests after the first allegations against them.’
SNAP was founded in 1988 years after Barbara was abused by a priest at her Catholic school in Toledo, Ohio. The organization now has more than 20,000 members
Barbara’s abuse went on until 1974 but her church knew as early as 1971, after some of the other girls had come forward and told about being molested by him.
‘I didn’t tell anyone about it until I was 29. He had total control and power over me, such that I didn’t tell my teachers or my friends. I’m a twin and I didn’t even tell my twin.’
Barbara Blaine displays childhood photographs of adults who say they were sexually abused in March 2011
The priest, Chet Warren, who molested Barbara was defrocked after she went after him and won a legal settlement, according to the Huffington Post.
Barbara resigned as president in February but the organization now has more than 20,000 members and support groups that meet in more than 60 cities across the US and the world.
Today it is the largest, oldest and most active self-help group for clergy sex abuse victims, whether assaulted by ministers, priests, nuns or rabbis.
The group gained prominence in 2002 after the Boston Globe’s stories on priest sexual abuse. Defrocked priest John Geoghan, pictured above, is escorted into Norfolk Superior Court in Massachusetts on Wednesday, May 22, 2002, for an appeal for a reduction of his nine-to-10-year sentence for groping a 10-year-old boy
Barbara Blaine was abused as an eighth grader and said it continued until 1974. She said that her church knew about it as early as 1971 after other girls came forward