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Are the victims of sexual abuse by nuns being overlooked?

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2024 | Clergy Abuse

Over the last decade or so, there has been a lot of attention paid to sexual abuse by members of the clergy – but most of the focus has been on priests and other male members of the churches.

However, sexual abuse is not gender-specific, and numerous victims say that their stories and pain are being overlooked, ignored and largely dismissed simply because they were the victims of nuns, not priests.

Women, girls and boys have all fallen prey

The victims gather in support groups and connect with each other online, and they all share similar stories:

  • A young woman entered a convent as a novice and ended up sexually assaulted by an older nun who convinced her that their love was special, even though it had to be hidden
  • A young girl was groomed by a nun teaching at her school and molested for years, then abruptly dismissed from the school when her parents found out
  • Another novice was sexually violated by their novitiate director, then discharged without explanation from the order
  • A nun who was a licensed psychologist convinced her patient that nudity and sexual contact were part of therapy

The victims say that they were often so heavily manipulated or groomed that they didn’t realize that they were being abused until someone else found out, they were told they were immoral or they sought therapy in later years. Many also say that church authorities threw blame for what happened back on them when they spoke out.

Survivors of sexual abuse by nuns can struggle for years to come to grips with what happened, and they often suffer from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and dissociation, as well as a profound loss of faith, and they say their stories are not unlike those who were abused by priests. They were hurt, and then silenced by a church that put more effort into hiding abuses than in doing what was right. If you are the victim of clergical sexual abuse, there is legal guidance available.