When we asked this question what often comes to mind for Americans are the numerous reports related to sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. However, research and investigative reporting have shown that institutional sexual abuse is a major issue in almost every religious institution across denominations and faith identities. Religious institutions have been shown over decades to have issues both with sexual abuse by clergy and ministerial leaders and and how they respond to disclosures of sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse by clergy carries with it some dynamics of grooming and abuse of power that cannot be overlooked and can have a long-term impact on survivors. Clergy may use their positions of trust, twist faith doctrine as justification for their actions, or develop confusing relationships with members of their congregation where they serve important purposes, provide emotional support, provide financial support to families, teach on faith related topics, and at the same time will perpetrate acts of sexual abuse. This can be a very confusing experience for the survivors, the families, and the church community at large.
Resource of the Week: Abuse By Clergy FAQ’s