Psychological Effects of Abuse Recent
stories of interest
it is not an affair
information is applicable to both adult female and male victims of clergy abuse.)
adult clergy abuse victims are also survivors of childhood sexual abuse that
in turn predisposed them to vulnerability to sexual exploitation, as adults.
relationship between a cleric and their congregants is identical to that of
medical practioners or psychiatric professionals with their clients. It is against
the law, in all states, for lay medical and counseling professionals to enter
into sexual relations with clients. It should be likewise with clerics.
one is raised from birth to believe that therapists can help us gain eternal
life or that doctors are God's representatives on earth. Thus, clerics often enjoy
an even more exalted and trusted and valued status even over highly trained and
well educated lay professionals.
A true consenting adult relationship
can only occur between more-or-less equally empowered individuals. It is never
a relationship between equals when one half of the relationship refers to the
other half as Father or Reverend.
Secret, sexual relations between
a cleric and congregant are circumstancially and psychologically akin to incest
and therefore as emotionally damaging of adult as child victims. (sources: Rutter,
Sex in the Forbidden Zone: Plante, et al, Bless Me Father, for I Have Sinned;
Carnes, The Betrayal Bond, Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune, FaithTrust Alliance)
with their lay counterparts, clerics have the ultimate responsibility to maintain
appropriate boundaries with their congregants and those they counsel . Blaming
a victim for a cleric's failure to maintain boundaries, however seductive or provocative
the victim, is ethically and morally inexcusable. A cleric always has the overriding
obligation to direct such persons to other counsel and not lead them further astray.
Survivors Network of those Abused
by Priests www.snapnetwork.org