Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors: The Dynamics of a Survivor’s Perspective

Listening to the Voices of Survivors

September 29, 2021
12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EDT
Location: Online Zoom Webinar

Child sexual abuse is a serious global public health problem with significant adverse impacts to the health and well-being of those who have been victimized. Studies indicate that when sexual assault victims receive psychosocial support from professionals or lay workers trained in evidence-based approaches to counseling, they report improved mental health, including decreased trauma-associated symptoms. However, a wrong response to a sexual assault disclosure can result in re-traumatization and significant psychological stress, undermining the victim's relationships with others and threatening their resilience, particularly as it relates to their faith or other core beliefs.

This conversation asked two key questions: What is a clergy abuse survivor’s perspective? How can such a perspective help to heal the wounds of abuse and institutional betrayal in the Catholic Church, faith communities, and other institutions? Survivors’ stories were foremost while also addressing the prevalence of child sexual abuse and its effect on the mind and body; its impact on one's relationship with their faith, and with others; effective strategies for prevention of sexual violence against children and vulnerable adults; and how to care and advocate for survivors. The dialogue was moderated by Dr. Jennifer Wortham of Harvard University and Berkley Center Senior Research Fellow Rev. Gerard J. McGlone, S.J., with 15 minutes of Q&A at the end.

This event was co-hosted by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University and the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science. It is co-sponsored by Georgetown University's Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, Office of Mission and Ministry, and the Georgetown Law Office of Mission and Ministry.

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