If you believe that you are a victim of clergy sexual misconduct (CSM)/clergy sexual abuse (CSA), help is available. Below you will find helpful information on what steps you can take to help put an end to the abuse and find freedom and healing.
Want to learn more about the signs of CSM? Discover the signs of CSM.
Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately at 1-800-273-8255. Free and confidential support is available to you 24 hours/7 days a week.
You are not alone and you are valuable. You will be believed and you will get through this with help.
This lifeline also provides crisis help for your loved ones and best practices for professionals.
If so, please call the police immediately. This sends a clear message to the perpetrator that you are aware of his/her abuse and do not wish to remain in contact.
Examples include, but are not limited to, making repeated and unwanted communications in person or through phone, mail, or internet; following a victim/spying; making hang-up calls; repeatedly sending unwanted gifts; or making veiled or open threats, including blackmail or threatening to hurt others or themselves if the victim doesn’t comply.
If the perpetrator shows up at your home and refuses to leave, call 911 right away and allow the police to handle the perpetrator and write an official report, which can be used to help secure a restraining order, if needed. Additionally, try your best to maintain any evidence.
Identify the Situation
If you believe that you are a victim of clergy sexual misconduct, the first step is to simply understand that what is happening to you is actually abuse. The romantic or sexual “relationship” that exists between you and your spiritual leader is not appropriate. It is wrong and it is not your fault. Learn more about how CSM happens and why the victim is not to blame.
Due to victim grooming, it may be difficult for you to settle on the fact that what exists between you and the perpetrator is not “love” but actually abuse. Because of this, it is important to cut off all communication with the perpetrator so that you can think through what is actually occurring and not be further influenced by him/her. This may seem hard to do as oftentimes the perpetrator will try to keep a tight rein on the victim and become angry or hostile if the victim pushes him/her away. This is a form of manipulation and control, not “love.”
Know that clergy sexual misconduct (CSM), also known as clergy sexual abuse (CSA), can happen to both men and women.
If you are not in immediate danger or suicidal, go to a safe place where you can be alone and cannot be reached by the perpetrator.
You can take time to pray and seek the Lord. Perhaps read scriptures that highlight God’s enormous grace and love toward those who come to Him broken and in need (e.g., Matt. 11:28–30 ESV, Ps. 34) and His desire and ability to rescue and protect you (e.g., Ps. 10:17–18, Ps. 71, Ps. 86). Decide to end the abusive relationship permanently and walk away.