Educating To End Abuse

Process for Women to Let Go of the Guilt and Shame

Guest Book
Our Story
My Press Conference 12/05
National NOW Conferences, WCSAP & VIDEOS
Let Go of Guilt and Shame
Dispelling Myths: Adult Clergy Sexual Abuse
Silent Majority - Adult Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse Article & more from the Wichita City Paper
2008 Educating To End Abuse Shows
2007 Educating To End Abuse Shows
2006 Educating To End Abuse Shows
Emails from aquaintance of Fr. Nicholas Voelker
Mind of a Predator: Postings from Fr. Nicholas Voelker
Characteristics of a Clergy Predator & Red Flags
Adult Clergy Abuse Articles
Adult Survivor Stories
Child Survivor Stories
In The News
Songs & Poems
Books regarding Adult Clergy Sexual Abuse and Clergy Sexual Abuse of Minors
Statute of Limitations by State
States Listing Clergy on Sexual Assault Laws and Fiduciary Duty Laws and States with Clergy as Mandatory Reporters
Predator List - Child & Adult
Kansas Legislation + Cost of Abuse
Links & Resources

Written for all of the women that contact me on a weekly basis - despairing, confused and alone. 

Process for Women To Let Go of the Guilt and Shame

Now is the time to let go of the guilt and shame carried as a result of sexual exploitation by clergy. This is a new day, research studies are being funded by respected foundations to educate and gather statistics regarding adult clergy sexual exploitation. Recent news stories are shedding light on the subject, as more women find their voices and the courage to speak out. Protestant faiths are addressing adult clergy sexual exploitation in their sexual misconduct policies. Catholic bishops are publicly removing priests that get sexually involved with adults. States are criminalizing this exploitive behavior at the felony level. Now is the time to hand the guilt and shame back to the instigator - the perpetrator, the man in power that abused his position in order to exploit for his sexual and power-seeking gratification. Now is the time to start the process of ridding yourself of the negative and regaining your life.

The scenarios rarely expose any real differences, only different names, different cities, and different denominations. Yet, the dynamics are all the same - control freak in position of power, exploits a true believer, gets caught or decides to move onto his next conquest, whichever comes first., the woman is left to pick up the pieces of her soul and the perpetrator is left to live his life as he knows best which is to continue using and abusing.

The first phase in letting go of the guilt and shame, …ultimately the first step in healing is to speak out. Tell somebody,… tell anybody: your husband, girlfriend, his superiors, the local newspaper, and/or the authorities. If you do go to his superiors, take someone with you, never go alone. Let the church know that they will need to pay for individual therapy as well as family therapy, if spouse and children are involved. Speaking out does not occur without consequences. There are possible outcomes to fear when speaking out against the clergy perpetrator: loss of job, loss of husband, family, friends, and loss of spiritual community, etc…But there should be a greater fear of what is to become of others if silence is fostered. There will be other women, families and communities shattered by clergy that are left to continue exploiting their flock. More than any other loss associated with keeping silent is the loss of any shred of self respect that was left after the exploitation.

There will also be unimaginable gains by speaking out. Personal gains will include: increased self-confidence, inner peace and strength that you never dreamed possible. There will also be gains within the community. Other victims will hear your voice and gain the courage to speak out. Faith communities will be forced to take action by addressing the issue within their own congregations. Law enforcement will take notice and know that changes in legislation are right around the corner. Your voice will educate the world.

The second phase of this evolutionary process is loving yourself. Letting go of the guilt and shame is extremely difficult but it is what must be done in order to achieve your ultimate goal of inner peace. Surrounding yourself with supportive people is key, at the same time removing negative people out of your life. Contact an attorney who specializes in clergy sexual abuse. The majority of these men and women who fight for justice do it because they have big hearts. They are usually willing to give advice over the phone, if they can’t help, they can usually lead you in the direction of someone who can help. Just because you attain an attorney does not mean that you will file a lawsuit. Think of the attorney as a mediator, someone speaking for you when you’re having a hard enough time getting out of bed, let alone talking to a church who doesn’t want to listen. Next, find a therapist who has experience with treating victims of clergy sexual abuse. Call several therapists and interview them or call your local sexual assault center and ask who they recommend. Finally, join a support group, either local or on-line, participating should be a positive experience. If you feel worse after the time spent, then maybe that group isn’t right for you. Women in every city, state, region and country are willing to lend support. You will not be alone, although it may feel that way at first. You will have to do hard work to build up the support team around you, which in turn will help you get your life back.

Letting go of the guilt and shame is possible. There will come a day when your life will be richer than ever before. Initially it feels like the pain will never cease but it will, with much time, energy and education. Remember you are a beautiful woman who deserves to be treated with love and respect, neither of which the perpetrating clergy ever gave a second thought. He does not know the concepts of love and respect, in his world his exploits were his fantasy game and you were his pawn. God is the farthest thing from his mind. His actions are not of that of a clergyman; therefore, do not think of him as such. You are the most important person in your life, take care of yourself, love yourself. You deserve only the best!

All rights reserved. Copyright - Educating To End Abuse - Peggy Warren - 10/21/08