The Good and Bad of Watching The Keepers as a Sexual Assault Survivor

July 25, 2017: This post has been featured on The Mighty as “The Pros and Cons of Watching ‘The Keepers’ as a Sexual Abuse Survivor”.

Trigger Warning: This post discusses sexual assault and mentions suicidal ideation. If you need support, you can call RAINN/National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255, or text “Start” to 741741 to reach the anonymous Crisis Text Line.

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Released in May 2017, the Emmy-nominated Netflix documentary series The Keepers examines the decades-old unsolved murder of beloved Catholic School Teacher Sister Cathy Cesnick in Baltimore. The series connects the nun’s disappearance and murder to the claims of sexual abuse filed against the then-chaplain of Archbishop Keogh High School by former-students in the 1990’s. Through interviews and conversations with former Keogh students, The Keepers pieces together the story of Sister Cathy, the dark testimonies of mistreatment by chaplain Father Maskell, and the ways in which the cases may have been mishandled by Baltimore police or repressed by the Catholic Church.

As a lover of true-crime, I was very excited for the series’ release, but as a sexual assault survivor, I was afraid to watch it. My abusers were not members of the clergy, but any stories or images of sexual abuse can trigger me and send me into a state of hypervigilance and panic. Fueled by curiosity and perhaps a bit of masochism, I turned it on, against my better judgment. The first episode of The Keepers is harmless enough (as far as brutal, unsolved murders go), so I decided to continue, naively unaware of the truly horrifying narrative ahead. Continue reading “The Good and Bad of Watching The Keepers as a Sexual Assault Survivor”