The sexual abuse of female church members by church leaders is often ignored, overlooked or played down, according to a groundbreaking new book published this week. The book, When Priests and Pastors Prey¸ published by the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF), claims sexual abuse of adult women by clergymen is “silent killer” in many churches and families around the world.
“Research indicates that 90 to 95 per cent of victims of clergy sexual exploitation are women,” said Dr Valli Batchelor, book project co-ordinator. “These victims are often so trapped in confusion, guilt, shame and self-blame that they are unable to see themselves as victims.”
Dr Batchelor said that female victims feel unable to speak out against the abuse they’ve suffered. “Women victims are likely to remain silent, suffering severe consequences from depression to suicide,” she said.
The book, which takes an uncompromising stand against all forms of sexual abuse and violence by church leaders, features stories from women survivors of clergy sexual abuse, research from pioneer experts and theologians, calls for action, reflections from different regions around the world, and examples of best practice in religious and secular organisations.
“Whilst this book includes painful survivor stories, and accounts of indifference and obstruction of survivors by church hierarchies, its focus is on the protection of woman and the prevention of abuse by clergy across all cultures,” Dr Batchelor said.
The book was launched at the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC), 17-25 May 2011, in Kingston, Jamaica.
Contributors include former US President Jimmy Carter, feminist theologian Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune, award winning journalist Amanda Gearing, and students and WSCF members all over the world.