Psych Effects
Story List


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Psychological Effects of Abuse
Recent stories of interest

Why it is not an affair

(This information is applicable to both adult female and male victims of clergy abuse.)

  • Most adult clergy abuse victims are also survivors of childhood sexual abuse that in turn predisposed them to vulnerability to sexual exploitation, as adults.
  • Any 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.
  • No 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)
  • As 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