Church Abuse comprises a range of illegal and heinous behaviors frequently commited against kids and adolescents by predatory clergy or other church employees involving sexual assault of varying degrees. The sexual assault can be a one-off, non-consensual scroll barencounter or it might involve many acts within a continuing interaction. For example, a continuing “trusting” relationship with a young child created by the predatory behavior of a clergy associate, cloaked by the trust and respect imputed to a priest, leading to non-consensual sexual assault acts of molestation.
In all claimed Priest or Clergy Sexual Abuse scenarios, the failure by the Clergy member’s employer to completely, adequately and immediately disclose the offense to police and other authorities, or its further failure to research, address and deal fully with the occurrence amplifies the effects on the abuse survivor, the community and potentially others. Recent Clergy Sexual Abuse cases covered in the press show these short-comings, including “pass-the-trash” situations when the abuser commonly a priest in the Catholic Church, is silently re-assigned from one church to another only to continue his predatory, criminal behavior on an unsuspecting parish community.
Priest and Clergy Sexual Abuse & Justice
Not a week passes without a media announcement reporting about sexual assault and molestation of children by pedophile clergy, or the effects of the assault on the victims and their families. If you are a victim of sexual abuse from a priest or other church member, these articles are most likely to serve as an echo chamber, reverberating the horror, shame, guilt and other unwanted feelings hurting your well-being. Encouraged by the societal movement and other pathways that encourage them to reveal the assault they experienced, victims of abuse are increasingly employing the legal system to compensate them for the lifetime damage and injury they have experienced.
If you are a survivor of abuse commited by a member of the church, the result of the abuse on your life and core belief system may be incalculable. Regardless, holding the responsible clergy and institutions to blame for their crimes and indifference can offer a measure of justice and recompense to assault survivors. Commonly, victims can assert their legal rights in confidential mediation thereby avoiding the need for litigation. However, if litigation is necessary, a case might be filed where the survivor can remain anonymous.
All predators, to varying amounts, use predatory tactics which are generally known as grooming, focusing on a possible abuse victim. Below is a list of grooming actions used by predators who are in a job of authority relative to the subordinate child.
Grooming is a significant piece of a predator’s ploy. In a religious setting, the priest is held as God’s representative. Within this setting, the predator frequently works closely with small amounts of children, identifying each child’s needs, vulnerabilities and circumstances. Once a target is located, these vulnerabilities – such as violent family setting, isolation, low self-esteem, emotional neediness, attention-seeking – can be systematically leveraged in the following ways:
An assaulter will first try to gain the child’s trust. This strategy is most difficult to notice as religious communities are frequently tight-knit and personal interaction with clergy is commonplace. Here, the predator can pretend genuine concern in the child’s wellness and development – both emotional and religious.
As a predator creates a trusting relationship with the potential child-victim and oftentimes their family members, the child will start to rely more and more on the predator for whatever need it is that the predator is exploiting and fulfilling. The victim may devote more time with the priest, feeling more and more comfortable with the relationship and counting on its stability and security. In addition to attention and affection, the possible target might receive gifts from the predator, including valuable, intangible gifts such as blessings and special recognition.
As the grooming progresses, the predator may try to isolate the potential victim. This may result in single counseling meetings, meals or other methods of one-on-one isolated moments.