“We’re taught they’re this semi-God, yet they’re raping kids”: Spiritual ripple effects of child sexual abuse perpetrated by Catholic clergymen

Jamie-Lee Emmanuel1

1School of Justice, Queensland University Of Technology, Australia

This research explores the spiritual harms experienced by family members of survivors of child sexual abuse perpetrated by Catholic clergymen. Importantly, this research acknowledges the status of family members as secondary survivors of this abuse. Survivors often come from devout Catholic families, for whom the clergy is considered representative of God. Survivor based research indicates that the complex trauma of sexual victimisation is compounded by the deep sense of betrayal of being victimised by one so intimately associated with the construction of spiritual and personal identity. This betrayal is deepened by the mismanagement of reports and lack of pastoral care which have come to be associated with the Catholic Church’s response to clergy abuse. While secondary survivors have not experienced the sexual victimisation of their loved one, they have been betrayed by the institution in which they put their faith and sacred trust, and which has often formed a core part of their identity. While we know from narratives in the media and government inquiries that the experiences of secondary survivors are often characterised by a crisis of faith, struggles with identity and ostracism from their spiritual community, these experiences have not been represented in empirical research to date. To understand the extent of the impacts of this abuse, we must understand its ongoing and ripple effects. Based on 17 in-depth interviews with siblings, parents, partners, and children of survivors of clergy perpetrated child sexual abuse in Australian Catholic institutions, this research explores the complex process of separating the institutional Catholic Church from spiritual identity and how relationships with the institution have evolved over time. This research contributes to emerging literature on spiritual abuse and the ripple effects of sexual abuse by Catholic clergymen more broadly.


Biography:

Bio to come

Date

Aug 30 2021
Expired!

Time

8:00 am - 6:00 pm