Resources for Adults

Understanding Adult Vulnerability

What Makes Adults Vulnerable?

  • Desire for community, connection, belonging Belief that church is a safe place
  • Culture of submission, especially for women
  • Life circumstances (season of transition, loss, isolation, etc) Desire for a spiritual mentor
  • Victim’s belief that he/she is bad or more sinful than other

5 ways religious leaders create an environment to abuse adults:

Isolate │ Create Doubt │ Praise Submission │ Foster Fear │ Secure Silence


  • Create opportunities to be with the victim one-on-one (phone calls at work or after hours, working together on a project, counsel/support the victim through an issue)

  • Share ‘privileged’ information with the victim

  • Make the victim feel special through praise and recognition

  • Pull the victim away for group events or other priorities because there is a greater need (work, emotional support, prayer, etc.)

  • Discuss marital issues

  • Criticize friendships and family

Create doubt:

  • Compliment the victim in ways that seem flirtatious

  • Touch the victim in ways that seems sexual

  • Ask the victim to share his/her interests; discuss their dating relationships/marriage, sexual history

Praise submission:

  • Teach the victim the virtue and necessity of submission. This may include:

  • A spiritual authority or covering is biblical – it is helpful for spiritual growth; it is a form of protection

  • Submission to a religious leader honors God

  • Submission maintains unity within the church

  • Women are called to be submissive; it shows they trust God

  • Failure or refusal to submit to authority is failure considered rebellious and sinful

Foster fear:

  • Remind the victim of consequences and punishment that could come by refusing the submit to the abuse, trying to end the abuse or telling anyone about the abuse. This may include:

  • You will be punished by God

  • You will be held responsible

  • You will be excommunicated from the church

  • You will be labeled a whore; held responsible for seducing/tempting a religious leader

  • You were the sinful one (victim believes their behavior was sinful)

  • You will be ostracized by friends and family

  • You will be responsible for the religious leader losing his job/livelihood

Secure silence:

  • Shame the victim (this is your fault, this is what you wanted, etc.)

  • Equate silence to trust

  • Express sorrow/regret, which the victim should forgive

  • Tell the victim that he/she will not be believed

  • Tell the victim that he/she participated and enjoyed it

  • Lead the victim to believe it was consensual or in response to the victim’s need

 Terminology: clergy sexual abuse of adults

  • Clergy Sexual Misconduct: Minister, priests, rabbis, or other clergy persons or religious leaders who make sexual advances or propositions to persons in the congregations they serve who are not their spouses or significant others.

(Baylor University, School of Social Work, Clergy Sexual Misconduct Study, 2008)

  • Sexual Abuse: When a person in a position of power such as a therapist, teacher, pastor, etc. sexually exploits a patient, counselee, vulnerable person, etc. in order to satisfy the abuser’s needs. Sexual abuse includes any sexual activity—verbal, visual or physical, i.e., lewd remarks, pornography, fondling, sexual contact, etc. It is illegal. (The Hope of Survivors)
  • Abuse of Power: Religious leaders are by definition community leaders who carry spiritual as well as organization and community leadership roles. They are expected to be compassionate, ethical, and moral leaders who hold the well-being of those they lead as a sacred trust. The differential of power between a religious leader and a congregant is like that of a physician and patient or counselor and client, although with the added dimension of sacred trust. Because of the power the leader holds and the attachment of congregants to their leaders, the congregant has much less power to say "no" to sexual overtures, rendering the concept of "consent" virtually meaningless. Any sexual relationship between a religious leader and a congregant is thus more accurately described as "abuse of power" rather than "affair," which implies mutual consent. (Baylor University, School of Social Work, Clergy Sexual Misconduct Study, 2008)
  • Offender: The religious leader has committed an offense. The term "perpetrator" implies crime punishable by law. It is not a crime in 48 states, so at this point, the term "offender" is a more accurate term.

(Baylor University, School of Social Work, Clergy Sexual Misconduct Study, 2008)

  • Survivor: Those who are on the receiving end of the offending behavior will be referred to as the "survivor" or "offended." the "primary survivors," those who directly experience the sexual behavior of the offender, and the "secondary survivors," those who indirectly experience the leader's sexual misconduct, such as primary survivor's spouses, children, and fellow congregants. (Baylor University, School of Social Work, Clergy Sexual Misconduct Study, 2008)

Resources: understanding & healing

  • Don't call it an affair. Call it abuse of power By Diana Garland, Baylor University, School of Social Work
  • Wolves in shepherds' clothing: Helping women survive clergy sexual abuse Social Work and Christianity, 33(1), 1-35
  • The Silent Majority: Adult Victims of Sexual Exploitation by Clergy
  • Sharon’s Rose:
  • FaithTrust Institute: Go to Resources, Learn the Basics, Abuse by Clergy FAQs
  • Predatory Pastors
  • Is Nothing Sacred?: The Story of a Pastor, the Women He Sexually Abused, and the Congregation He Nearly Destroyed By Marie M. Fortune Paperback, April 1, 2008 (available at
  • Male Survivor
  • For men abused as children
  • American Association of Pastoral Counselors Code of Ethics
  • Go to About Us, Code of Ethics

e r i n   o .   c r o s b y   │ s n a p   d f w   g r o u p   

Showing 8 comments

  • Robert Lescault
    commented 2022-03-31 11:51:30 -0500
    Thank you so much for your unbiased reporting. I am sending you a copy of my email to SNAP. A great place for information for a person in my situation. You can read and I can verify every thing I have said. I can prove I keep documents from my Emails to the bishop office as well as my lawyer emails and there is not anything I’m aware of that anyone Is even trying to help us survivors after we come forward. Tell our story and then find out there isn’t any place to help us now we are just left out in the cold. With a possible monetary settlement from the Albany diocese. But as far as my attorney knows there is not any thing that will be done for years. Leaving us survivors. To get depressed about the situation and maybe suicidal thoughts begin to come back. It’s truly like being victimized over and over. And there isn’t anything I can do But to keep sending emails. To anyone who may listen and eventually call the church out on leaving us homeless and it’s getting worse. I created a go fund me page with my story I did not get much attention. So I will keep sending all the news sources emails maybe one person will listen and want to try and help.

    Thank you for listening i appreciate it very much.

    Sent from my
    I have had the pleasure of a few
    Emails back and forth with Zach. Quite an amazing guy. Who is caring and has a big heart he even supported me for a project I tried and not very successful for me. Because of my lack of social media I tried so hard for months. But this latest news in Albany NY. About ex bishop Hubbard Is probably going to help us survivors here. That is where I filed my CVA last august. So after the article was all over the news and then the current bishop says he is working with the survivors and there lawyers but my lawyer tells me that there is not anything moving forward at all in Albany NY. I am amazed that none of the lawyers. That have clients here are not Calling him out on that. Because as far as I know it’s going to take years before any kind of settlement is reached. And no help for guys like me at 57. That are just broken. Mentally. Physically. Spiritually. It’s just not right that all the people involved in the big. NY. CVA. Are letting us. The victims and survivors starve. Now that we did face up to are abusers. I also find that because I first made my complaint to the Albany bishops office for help in the fall of. 2022. And spent 8-9 months of being investigated by the DA. A independent investigator. And when the bishop had a meeting and my case came up. Every one involved all clearly new my allegations were true. And the bishops office in June of 2021 did reach out to me and tell me that the church apologizes for my abuse and are willing to take total responsibility for all my past pain suffering and self destructive behavior I did to myself over the year. And there was not any offer of monetary help the deadline was 2 weeks later so I filed my suit. August 2021. I don’t know if the bishop would have kept his word. Saying there would be help. Or if he was trying to get past the august 13th deadline
    He to me that he would not be able to make any decisions until September 2021. For some
    Assistance. At this time i still don’t know if I did the right thing by filling. Because it’s been almost 8 months and there is no hope in site. As I’m even getting close to being evicted. I have looked days after day for help. And the people who do even answer back send me to another place. It’s so sick that the church can use stall tactics And get away with it. There is not one possible answer I can see in the very near future it’s heartbreaking and clearly very sad. For the Catholic Church to let us. Go hungry and homeless when they say there helping to us get what we deserve. So sorry I’m rambling it’s hard to face that. But I’m hoping this big story up here in Albany NY about bishop Hubbard sure expedites things a little. Have a gray day and of all the sites SNAP. Is by far the most caring site there is. Most of the sites keep trying to direct me to a contribution page. If I could I would give I do know I go on SNAP. Most days and your team is above greatness.
    Thank you for being here and listening to my rants. It’s very helpful to just say something

    I am survivor clergy abuse and I have told my story. On 10/07/2020 since that day I was able to start recovering and dealing with all the wreckage of my past self destructing myself hoping not to live through the pain and suffering I read every day where to ge help and for a guy 57. Years old there’s isn’t anything I can find.

    I did file a complaint with the NY. Child sex act law. August 2021. I just read a story in Albany NY diocese ex bishop Hubbard was released and the story is quite a good thing for the survivors who did file. There is 300. Cases in Albany NY.

    The article Also says when asked to comment from the bishop. That the diocese was working with the lawyers and trying to resolve the survivors pains and suffering as well as settlements. My lawyer tells me there is no talk at all from the Albany diocese to even start the process of arbitration. I can’t believe no one says anything. I can’t get help paying my rent and am still working on recovering from my abuse. There is no Answer in sight as far as I’m told by my attorney.

    My support right now is a member of the church. As i was able through payer to
    Forgive my abuser. And my resentments again him and the Church have been
    Lifted. If there’s any kinds of jobs I can do to
    Help my cause I would put all my efforts to be able to work. My main problem is the arthritis pains I suffer in my neck and lower back. So any job I may qualify for make my pains so bad. However I can share my story and help in those capacities. I am a very good at speaking with others on many topics. I so need some way to raise money soon as I may become homeless again. And I was homeless for 3/5 years at the end of my addictions. And keeping my secret of clergy abuse. As of 10/07/2020 I have been sober and started dealing with my abuse. Now I am a new person mentally feel great. Physically hurting badly. I hope to Hear from your amazing program you are certainly the most popular site of helping others. And I have been online looking for any kinds of financial help for a year now. And maybe my age 57. But there is not any thing I can find and I look hard. So I would humbly ask even if some of your people at
    Your company may be able to give $10 $20 anything helps and share my link with social media as I have no ideas about social Media. I have isolated my self for so many years dealing with the pain and depression of my abuse. I alway had even the hardest time having a simple relationships. With any one for years. So I was told by my support person to continue to keep trying and asking. For help now can see that I able to reach out and ask. Thank you for reading if some one did have a Chance to read my message. So please share my page.

    I will be never give up on life or trying
    To get help It ls my survival. It important.

    this is only a tiny bit of my story. I did start a go fund me page that is not working. Anyway I am happy to share what ever I can with you. There are 1,000s of people in a bad way. Because of the abuse of course then the new hope a year ago I barely even hear from my lawyer. If you open my page I wrote a big part of my story. Of course I hope I’m not bothering you with stories you already have if so I’m sorry to take your time up.

    I was able to file a complaint in Albany ny about a sex abuse from a priest 40 years ago it happened. So after going through the Albany bishops office and going. Through and investigation that the bishop found that the church was definitely at fault and my complaint was found to be valid. Now I did t know what else to so I filled in June for a suit. Before the august deadline. I have been recently told by my lawyer that it could be years before I hear anything. It’s so difficult because a year ago when I reported my abuse I finally found that I wasn’t trying to find ways to kill myself or self destruct myself. Or take a drink. I now have been sober over a year. But now I am hurting and I can’t find a way to get any kind of financial help. So I can live and have been threatened to have to leave the place I stay and be homeless again. I was for. 5 years I am sending this to try and get help and direction for the possible sites for help now as it may take years before any answers of the problem

    [email protected]

    I have shared my story and my plan of getting back my life as well as helping others. However there’s no help for a man of 57 that offers financial help to keep going. I do appreciate if you have read my story. And sure hope to hear as I continue my struggles and recovery.

  • Margaret Bohn
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