First, three truths.
1. Your pastor’s harmful behavior was not your fault. This is true no matter who “started it.”
2. Clergy sexual misconduct doesn’t have to be physical to be harmful.
3. You can get through this and emerge stronger than ever. Have hope!
Resources for healing:
The Hope of Survivors provides information on clergy sexual abuse: what it is, what it does, and how the church can prevent it. Trained volunteer counselors can help victims get through the crisis and become survivors. The Hope of Survivors offers workshops for survivors and educational programs for churches.
If you are in crisis: please get help now! If you are feeling suicidal, call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or your local crisis hotline. Your life is worth saving! Your life has a purpose! You can recover and heal from abuse.
Resources for learning:
Abuse by Clergy FAQs, by the FaithTrust Institute.
When Wolves Wear Shepherds’ Clothing: Helping Women Survive Clergy Sexual Abuse, by Dr. Diana R. Garland.
Soul Stealing: Power Relations in Pastoral Sexual Abuse, by Rev. Dr. Pamela Cooper-White.
Baylor University Study on Clergy Sexual Misconduct, led by Dr. Diana R. Garland, Dean of the Baylor School of Social Work.
The Survivor’s Bookshelf: my favorite books on all aspects of clergy sexual abuse: what is is, how to prevent it, how to heal.
Comments on: "For Victims & Survivors" (5)
These resources are fabulous! Thank you so much for sharing!
Hello, we just launched our website and are hoping you guys will list us as a resource. We also have a facebook page. We love your site!
Thank you for this website & your story; about a year ago, my relationship with my priest ended and well into the future, I am still reeling from the loss, feeling of betrayal, and also just missing the person terribly. I have a hard time seeing myself as a victim – I was certainly an active, seductive, and complicit participant in what transpired – and yet I can’t help but see similarities between my story and others; I also have a difficult time seeing him as abusive; I simply don’t think there was malevolence – maybe some denial, but mostly I think he got in over his head before he realized it. And nonetheless – I was put in a position where my only real choice was to leave my church & he reported himself for clergy sexual misconduct. I have been totally in the dark & a deafening silence since then, and the conclusion I have reached is that both he and our denomination went CYA and self protective, without regard for the fall out I would experience. I once felt safest at my church and in his company, and that sense of safety has been shattered – losing that relationship and my church was like part of the ground falling away.
I *know* you’re right; in my heart, I’m still just so stunned by how it was handled. I’m in therapy, have other counsel, my husband was incredibly gracious and is still very supportive, and I’M even in a counseling profession – so, I know what you’re saying is accurate. I’m considering reaching out to my diocese, which has a reputation for handling these things comparatively well. I hesitate because I don’t know what I’d be hoping to accomplish; because I don’t know that I want to put myself through the inevitable backlash / having to defend myself because I’m fairly certain people will attack me for it to protect him; I’m aware he has a wife & kids and I don’t want them to get further dragged through anything. I just want it all to go away, which I know is not possible.
Thank you for your response – I appreciate your truth-telling and your openness about your own story.
Hi Catherine. I’m always so encouraged by your blog! I’m writing to let you know that my daughter and I have written a book called Broken and Beautiful. It’s the story of her journey through Clergy Sexual Abuse. Hopefully it will be a source of hope and deeper understanding for others who have suffered at the hands of a predatory pastor. It is available in the US through Friesen Press or Amazon as well as I-tunes, etc. In Canada it is available through my web site, MyVoiceBack.com. Thanks again for all that you do through your blog.