This has been written by a very courageous woman who is an abuse survivor. She and her husband are working to not only inform people of this vast problem but also give a ray of hope to those attempting to heal from an abuse situation by a trusted Pastor. As a victim, you are sure to see yourself mirrored in the words below, I hope it helps to break the chains of shame and fear surrounding you. For those of you who may be family members of an abused person, or just someone interested in all of this, I hope that you find understanding and gain more compassion for those who suffer at the hands of a trusted spiritual leader.
You can write to the author and also read more at the blog link below:
How does CSA happen?
Clergy Sexual Abuse (CSA) happens when a member of the clergy abuses his power and authority to prey upon a congregant to harm the congregant for self-gratification. In most cases, the victim is a child or an adult woman. There is usually more than one victim. Sex is used as a weapon in this act of violence. Regardless of the degree of physical violence, CSA is always a violent act.
CSA can involve a sudden sexual assault on an unsuspecting victim, but in most cases, CSA doesn’t happen “over night.” Usually, CSA happens over a long period of time “under the noses” of most or all in the congregation.
What does CSA look like?
Every case of CSA is different. However, there are similarities to many cases.
Child CSA: The perpetrator falls into one of several psych categories: (1) Underlying severe psychiatric disorder; (2) Sociopathic/severe narcissistic per-sonality disorders; (3) Sexual impulse disorders; (4) Chronic neurotic and Isolated; (5) Situational offenders; and (6) Naive.1 The victim is a child or teenager under the age of 18. The victim is vulnerable simply because he or she is a child.
Adult CSA: The perpetrator falls into one of several categories as stated above. The victim is an adult (usually a woman), age 18 or older. The victim is not responsible for the sexual acts with the per-petrator. The victim is not an adulteress. It is not an affair. The victim is vulnerable for many reasons, including just being present in the congregation.
Most CSA cases go through phases. Each phase can last days, weeks, months, or even years.
1Gary Richard Schoener. “Not As a Stranger: Evaluating Offenders.” Safe Church Advanced Training for Episcopalians: Lake Morey Resort, VT. Feb. 11, 2003. pp. 9,10.
What are the Phases of CSA?
While the particulars are different in each case, perpetrators usually go through two main phases in committing the act of clergy sexual abuse. After the act is committed, there are yet three more phases in store for the victim.
1. GROOMING PHASE 2. PHYSICAL PHASE
3. DISCOVERY PHASE 4. TELLING PHASE
5. RECOVERY PHASE
Phase 1: THE GROOMING PHASE
Part One, Grooming Phase:
The Perpetrator establishes and develops a relationship with the Victim.
Part Two, Grooming Phase:
The Perpetrator establishes and develops nonphysical Trust, Intimacy, and
Secrecy with the Victim.
Phase 2: THE PHYSICAL PHASE
Part One, Physical Phase:
The Perpetrator “innocently” touches the Victim in ways that seem appropriate (i.e., hugs, pats on shoulder, etc.). Trust, Intimacy and Secrecy are intensified. The Perpetrator is waiting for the right moment to attack.
The Victim has no idea the relationship
will become sexual.
Part Two, Physical Phase:
The Perpetrator sexually touches the Victim in ways that are NOT appropriate. The Victim is brainwashed to believe it is “okay.” The Victim experiences shock and trauma. Secrecy is maintained. This is the part of CSA that is
criminal sexual assault.
Phase 3: THE DISCOVERY PHASE
The Victim realizes the relationship with the Perpetrator is really sexual abuse, and may or may not find the courage to tell someone. The Victim may or may not seek counseling in this phase. The Victim may feel relief or other emotions as he/she finally understands.
Phase 4: THE TELLING PHASE
The Authorities (usually church leaders, e.g., elders, bishops) are informed of the abuse. The Authorities should seek to address the issue, and hold the Perpetrator accountable for his actions. Many churches/denominations have a procedure for handling CSA cases. If handled properly, there will be a stronger outcome for a more rapid recovery of the Victim, as well as the church community. If Authorities collude, healing for the church is obstructed. If the Victim is not believed, blamed, or no longer welcomed, the Victim will experience further shock and trauma.
Phase 5: THE RECOVERY PHASE
Part One, Recovery Phase:
The Victim will experience depression and will need professional help for what happened. As the Victim begins the process of healing, the Victim will need support from family, the church and the community.
The Victim is a “Survivor.”
Part Two, Recovery Phase:
The Survivor gets healing for the wounds, regains wholeness, and is able to “move on” after CSA. The Survivor becomes a “Thriver.”
Copyright © 2007 sharonsrose.org