Event Title

From Tears to Triumph: Women's Spiritual Healing After Clergy Sexual Abuse

Location

Exhibition Hall, DeVos Center

Start Date

28-3-2011 4:30 PM

Description

INTRODUCTION: Clergy sexual abuse of adult women is an occurrence which happens with some regularity in religious organizations. This research explores how women who were victims of clergy sexual abuse heal spiritually. METHODS AND MATERIALS: The participants were taken from convenience and snowball samples. Data was collected by individual, unstructured, phone interviews which were later recorded and transcribed. The funneling technique was used at the start of each interview and feminist theory guided the interview process. The interviews were interpreted through my experience as the researcher and as a survivor of clergy sexual abuse. RESULTS: Seven women participated in this research from seven different denominations. Two different religions were represented. Six women found the church's lack of concern for them created more spiritual damage than the actual abuse. Four of the women no longer had anything to do with organized religion. Although these four had sought the help of their denominations, they had been unable to find anyone willing to help them and were left isolated with the task of reconstructing a working spirituality. All seven women had a more relational, experiential spirituality and those who had left organized religion had feminine or gender neutral images of God. CONCLUSIONS: The denomination's response to the victim directly impacts the healing journey she takes and plays a major factor in determining if she remains within organized religion.

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Mar 28th, 4:30 PM

From Tears to Triumph: Women's Spiritual Healing After Clergy Sexual Abuse

Exhibition Hall, DeVos Center

INTRODUCTION: Clergy sexual abuse of adult women is an occurrence which happens with some regularity in religious organizations. This research explores how women who were victims of clergy sexual abuse heal spiritually. METHODS AND MATERIALS: The participants were taken from convenience and snowball samples. Data was collected by individual, unstructured, phone interviews which were later recorded and transcribed. The funneling technique was used at the start of each interview and feminist theory guided the interview process. The interviews were interpreted through my experience as the researcher and as a survivor of clergy sexual abuse. RESULTS: Seven women participated in this research from seven different denominations. Two different religions were represented. Six women found the church's lack of concern for them created more spiritual damage than the actual abuse. Four of the women no longer had anything to do with organized religion. Although these four had sought the help of their denominations, they had been unable to find anyone willing to help them and were left isolated with the task of reconstructing a working spirituality. All seven women had a more relational, experiential spirituality and those who had left organized religion had feminine or gender neutral images of God. CONCLUSIONS: The denomination's response to the victim directly impacts the healing journey she takes and plays a major factor in determining if she remains within organized religion.