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Why do acts of clergy abuse go unreported? A victim’s perspective

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2024 | Clergy Abuse

Very few members of the clergy are likely reported for sexually abusing church members. Some people will not report clergy abuse until years after the event. By then, there may not be enough evidence to hold abusers liable for their actions and seek justice for victims. Many more cases of clergy abuse go unreported. As a result, the clergy often continue to abuse others without facing punishment

Why do so many cases of clergy abuse go unreported? There are a few reasons why victims do not report clergy of sexual abuse. Here is what you should know: 

Social stigma and pressure from the church

Some church members are aware of allegations of clergy abuse within their ranks. This could cause a community to cover up any reports of clergy abuse. Furthermore, members may stigmatize victims, causing victims to become isolated and seen as outcasts. This could deter any reports of clergy abuse.

Relationship between the victim and the clergy

Many families of victims of sexual abuse from clergy were, in some way, close to the clergy member. This close relationship allowed the clergy member to manipulate and then abuse the victim. However, this same relationship could also cause any reports of clergy abuse to go unreported.

Competing beliefs

A religion may present a clergy member with high esteem – as someone who could do no wrong in the eyes of God. Victims may believe in their religious notions so strongly that the sexual assault from a clergy member may seem unfathomable. The abuse from a clergy member could, for example, only be explained as a test or punishment from God. The competing belief between religious notions and the actual act of assault from a clergy member may cause a victim not to report the abuser.  

Victims of clergy abuse can seek legal guidance to learn how reporting sexual assault can help them find justice and protect future victims for additional suffering.