Much has been said about the negative effects and consequences incurred by the victim of clergy abuse. But how about the abuser and the congregation he serves? Obviously, child victims feel the most painful outcome of the crime. Some may even grow up not getting over it. They tend to manifest their experience in the way they behave and connect with other people. Most of the time, their personality is affected forever.
But for the abuser, effects can also be very devastating. Not only does he need to be punished and pay the price of his wrongdoing, he may also have to deal with the embarrassment and persecution of his fellow church members. Other effects include the following:
- absolute the fear of disclosure
- increased feeling of guilt and betrayal
- anger towards himself
- acceptance of a damaged reputation which can eventually lead to emotional stress and even suicidal tendencies
- removal from the congregation which can be worsened with complete removal from the position
- in some settlement and cover up cases, he can be assigned to other areas in order to prevent the issue from leaking
- deterioration of the relationship with family, friends, and fellow church members
One should remember that the practice of the church in covering up clergy abuse does not help the abuser in any way. It simply tolerates the crime in itself. What should be done is to hold the abuser responsible and at the same time provide needed counseling. If he has a family or a wife, they should not be held accountable for the same offense. Though the crime has significantly tarnished the reputation of the congregation, the abuser must be given a chance to defend himself. For obvious reasons, the loss of confidence to the church from the followers is expected. However, what should be kept in mind is the fact that the sin of one is not the sin of the whole church or religion.