Each time I hear a mention of this abuse, I shake my head thinking “here we go again, another child/adult child sexually abused, coming forward despite their courage and pain, to be treated like garbage or accused of making it all up and the church deals with it in their own way, which is nothing”. I seethe inside.
It is difficult to define what “religious abuse” means, as it carries with it implications of forcing someone to believe in a faith, but principally it is abuse committed by someone who is a representative of a religious body.
Usually, the abuse takes the form of:
~ physical abuse
~ sexual abuse
~ emotional abuse
The abuse occurs as a result of the religious representative taking advantage of his/her position of responsibility within the religious organisation.
There has been widespread publicity surrounding the abuse by and criminal conviction of priests of the Catholic Church all over the world leading to several leading legal precedent judgments in the higher courts concerning the scope of the responsibility of the church for the criminal behaviour of priests.
Numerous legal arguments have been advanced by, principally, the Catholic Church, that they are not responsible for the actions of their priests because there does not exist a relationship of master and servant between the priest and the church. It has been unsuccessfully argued that the role of a priest is a “calling” rather than a job and that they depend on for their income upon what is put into the collection on the Sabbath. As such they are not answerable or paid for their work by the Diocese of the Catholic Church but are rather self-employed individuals fulfilling a vocation, answerable to their congregation.
The transparency of such arguments has been defeated in a number of high-profile appeal cases in the Court of Appeal and House of Lords. As such the church is held to employ their delegate and is responsible for his/her actions.
There have been a number of scandals surrounding abuse by priests in the Catholic Church where abusive priests have been moved from parish to parish after being found to have abused children and have not been reported to the police, the crimes remaining undiscovered for many years.
The justification for such behaviour has been alleged to have derived from firstly the concept of forgiveness of sins by the confessional priest, and secondly due to the dictates of the church of Rome in an edict circulated in the early 1960’s which forbade disclosure to outside bodies.
Typically, the member of the religious organisation meets the child through his/her work in the religious organisation and goes through a grooming process, which eventually leads to abuse.
In the same way as other types of child abuse, the crime often remains a secret for many years. The victim is sometimes silenced out of fear for the consequences threatened by the religious representative eg “eternal damnation”. Abuse is often represented to be quite normal, and part of “growing up”.
Article continues @ Abuse Law UK
Wikipedia definition of Psychological trauma