“Forgiving and being reconciled to our enemies or our loved ones are not about pretending that things are other than they are. It is not about patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong. True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth. It could even sometimes make things worse. It is a risky undertaking but in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing. Superficial reconciliation can bring only superficial healing.” – Desmond Tutu
I truly believe that a man is measured by his friends and the people who love him and vice-versa. Over the last year I have seen some of the bravest, strongest men I think I have ever had the opportunity to associate with go public as part of the Pingry Survivor group. Ray Dackerman. Howard Penney. John Humphrey, Rice Fuller. Other men will finally have an opportunity to confront long buried demons and heal because of these men and their courage.
I am honored to stand beside them as a survivor of the abuse I endured at Pingry when I was 10 years old.
I thrived in the field of bariatric surgery for many years because of my deep understanding of the emotional and physical abuse obese patients can suffer. I have had the honor of helping these unheard patients throughout my career as a surgeon, and to help them transform to more fulfilling lives. I think my work to expose the truth of my own youth has been my greatest achievement in my life.
After feeling so alone in my thoughts, together we have forged this amazing brotherhood. And, now we have this deep, binding connection to each other that is helping all of us to be better fathers, friends and significant others.
I have not taken any of this lightly, and I’ve thought long and hard about the impact going public would have on my life, and that of my children. And, I have absolutely no regrets. I feel compelled to go forward and tell my story.
Collectively and individually we finally have a voice against what we endured. That is the message for the community that doesn’t understand why we wouldn’t come forward until this time.
We didn’t have a voice as children, and now we have the courage, albeit 40 years later, to stand up to all of those who knew in their hearts and minds something was amiss.
It goes without saying that those who suspect or know about crimes perpetrated by pedophiles, rapists, terrorists, etc., should be mandated to come forward. Sadly, this is too often not the case. The T&M investigative report conducted by the Pingry School lists 9-10 teachers and 3 Waganaki counselors who noted aberrant behavior by Thaddeus “Ted” Alton. These people were in a position of trust as administrators, teachers, and guardians. They were hired with the responsibility to protect the children under their care and instead either looked away or remained passive. In coming forward as a survivor after so many years, it is my hope that it will become clear to all involved, and all who are learning only now about what happened, that such activity in the face of obvious signals that abuse was being committed is, in fact, complicity.
It is the obligation of adults in positions of authority to protect those children they are watching over.
And what is my goal now?
I don’t want to be a survivor any longer. I want to be a thriver. I need to move forward from all of this, and use what I have learned about myself, those other men I have been blessed to connect with and human nature to carve a brighter path for my future and impart this knowledge to my children.
I have had a lot of second thoughts and conflicted feelings about attaching my name to this story publicly. I may still wrestle with this decision from time to time, but I know, in my heart, that this is my path. And, if this helps another person to come forward or another caregiver to think twice when they are suspicious of someone’s behavior, then I have done what I was meant to do.
It is time to thrive, and I truly believe that now, coming forward, I can finally do that. And, I will no longer be just a survivor.
– Tim Ehrlich