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What is clergy abuse, and why is it different?

On Behalf of | Jul 17, 2023 | Clergy Abuse

Sexual abuse is a heinous criminal offense that society stigmatizes due to its inherently inhumane character. Louisiana law explicitly enumerates and outlines the ways sexual abuse can transpire, from sexual battery to rape. What makes clergy abuse different is that the person perpetrating it is in a position of trust and power.

Clergy members have unique positions because they have religious authority. We see them as people closer to God. We expect them to set the standard for moral and ethical behavior. Their position gives them respectability and esteem. They give people guidance and spiritual advice. We trust them. We believe in what they say. Their victims may not know the abuse is happening because of their misdirected faith.

What are signs of clergy abuse?

Clergy members can easily manipulate believers into doing things using scripture or religious beliefs. While sexual abuse can be explicit and recognizable, it may not be evident for everyone, especially children and young adults. Here are warning signs that you should be aware of:

  • You or a person you know feels uneasy or uncomfortable with the clergy member
  • The clergy member makes lewd or dirty jokes and comments
  • The clergy member has a particular interest in women and children
  • The clergy member speaks negatively about other people or makes other people look bad
  • The clergy member is inappropriately physical regardless of who and why
  • The clergy member does not have professional boundaries when dealing with parishioners
  • The clergy member asks for graphic details during confession
  • The clergy member meets people in private and isolated locations

Clergy members are spiritual leaders. Followers look to them and obey. It makes victims more afraid to speak out. Clergy abuse has serious psychological and physical effects on an individual. By recognizing these signs, you may be able to catch or prevent clergy abuse from continuing in your religious organization.

Are you a victim of clergy abuse?

Clergy members are human. Their position does not give them the right to abuse you or anybody. The religious institution can be liable for looking the other way. If you feel that you or someone you know is a victim of clergy abuse, you can fight for justice. You can recover compensation for the damages you suffered at the hands of someone you trusted and believed.