Learning about a sexual abuse involving a member of the church, especially a priest, can be a bit more disturbing than the one committed by a sex offender. Victims of clergy abuse need swift justice considering the gross nature of the crime and the perpetrator as well as the long term effects such as psychological and behavioral disorders. Not only does it affect the victims, it can also lead to negative consequences to the congregation, diocese, or the whole church in general.
But the greatest pain and trauma is still shouldered by the child or teen victim. Here are some of the most troubling consequences of sexual abuse and molestation perpetrated by a member of the church:
- The feeling of anger, betrayal, and even self-blame is common
- The loss of confidence, trust, and belief in the church or even the entire faith in the religion
- Complete rejection of the teachings of the church or advice from people affiliated or connected to the same church or religion the perpetrator served
- The eventual breakdown of other relationships like family and marriage
- Post-traumatic stress disorder, behavioral alteration, and for some, drug and alcohol abuse
- Loss of ability and will to proceed with work or job
- Sudden and immediate loss of confidence and self-esteem
- Increasing the tendency of paranoia and distrust
- Significant health issues like eating disorders and substance abuse primarily due to the stress brought by the experience
Apart from all those mentioned effects to the victim, another unfortunate fact with regards to clergy abuse is that many of the cases are closed and forgotten. The risk of exposing a scandal that targets the church simply carries a very high stake. This means that dioceses do whatever they can just to protect the integrity of the church. As a result, many victims today are opting to settle the accusation and keep everything a secret in return for monetary or financial settlements.