For those seeking further education on adult clergy sexual misconduct (CSM)/clergy sexual abuse (CSA), below are relevant articles and resources for further research. The internet continues to grow with information pertaining to CSM/CSA, and it is recommended that those who desire to learn more about this form of abuse continue to research the topic as the list below contains only a sample of the information available.
The studies and articles included on this website are provided for research purposes. Inclusion on this website does not necessarily imply endorsement of the author(s) and their work.
Dr. Krystal Lynne Woolston, PhD
This study examines the relationship between institutional responses to reports of clergyperpetrated sexual abuse of adult women and the survivor’s level of posttraumatic growth, current spirituality, current religious commitment, well-being, and flourishing. The findings suggest how a religious institution responds to reports of sexual abuse of adult women can make a difference in how that survivor experiences their life post-reporting of abuse. Interview participants shared recommendations for ways in which they felt institutions could better respond to reports of clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse.
Dr. David Pooler, PhD
In 2015 the first national survey of adult survivors of clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse was conducted under the direction of Dr. David Pooler, Ph.D., LCSW. 280 survivors participated in the study.
Resources created from Baylor University clergy sexual abuse research:
Dr. Diana R. Garland, PhD and Dr. Mark Chaves, PhD
In 2008 a research study of clergy sexual misconduct was performed to define the scope and nature of clergy sexual misconduct so that effective prevention strategies can be proposed for the protection of religious leaders and congregants. The co-investigators of this study were the late Diana R. Garland, LCSW, Ph.D., founding dean and Professor of Social Work, Baylor University; and Mark Chaves, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, Religion, and Divinity, Duke University.
Dr. Margaret Kennedy, PhD
This thesis documents clergy sexual exploitation of adults in the UK and Ireland by exploring the lived experience of women who were sexually exploited by Christian clergy when they were either parishioners of their church or seeking help, support, or spiritual guidance. Note: You must create an account to download this free document. Dr. Kennedy is the creator of the clergy sexual exploitation power and control wheel.
Dr. Stephen Edward de Weger, PhD
This thesis was an exploratory study into clerical sexual misconduct within the Roman Catholic Church. It sought to describe the experiences of women and men who, as adults, had experienced this form of professional misconduct. The findings were that clerical sexual misconduct involving adults is an unacknowledged, misinterpreted, and harmful event, one involving the abuse of power and which leaves lifelong scars. Contrary to common thinking, these events were not affairs between equals, but violations of professional and religious duty. Survivors are seeking transparent and genuine acknowledgment of this reality in order for their lives to fully heal.
Dr. Stephen de Weger, PhD
This qualitative study sought to explore and describe the self-reporting experiences of victims/survivors of clergy sexual misconduct against adults (CSMAA) within the Australian Roman Catholic Church (RCC).
Kathryn A. Flynn
Through a qualitative exploration of narratives from semistructured interviews of 25 women sexually abused by clergy (18 as adults and 7 as children), this study examined how the women experienced symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and complex post-traumatic stress disorder. A change in personal spirituality among many subjects from structured traditional religious practice to spirituality strongly dependent on interpersonal and relational factors is also considered.
Dr. Julie Hanlon Rubio, PhD and Dr. Paul J. Schutz, PhD
Clericalism is often cited as a key factor contributing to clergy perpetrated sexual abuse (CPSA) in the Catholic Church. But while commentators—from journalists and scholars to Pope Francis himself— acknowledge its influence, definitions of clericalism vary widely, clericalism is usually characterized as an individual phenomenon, and empirical assessments are few. Rather than describing clericalism as an individual reality—a problem of ‘bad apples’—this study maps clericalism as a structural reality shaped by the interaction of three forces: sex, gender, and power. We define clericalism as: a structure of power that isolates clergy and sets priests above and apart, granting them excessive authority, trust, rights, and responsibilities while diminishing the agency of lay people and religious.
Dr. Wade T. Mullen, PhD
This research study was concerned with image-threatening events faced by evangelical organizations and the impression management strategies used in response to those events. This study is included in this section due to its relevance concerning how ministries typically respond to revelations of abuse and the need for changes to be made.
Dr. Mullen's book, Something's Not Right: Decoding the Hidden Tactics of Abuse--and Freeing Yourself from Its Power, examines the strategies individuals and organizations employ to gain power and cover up their wrongdoings.
Dr. Jennifer M. Gómez, PhD
For individuals who are marginalized, such as Black people in the U.S., who have experienced interpersonal trauma (e.g., adult clergy sexual abuse), that context includes inequality at various levels. This dissertation suggests that cultural betrayal trauma theory (CBTT) is a useful framework in examining and understanding trauma sequelae in minority populations. In cultural betrayal trauma theory, Dr. Gómez proposes that societal trauma (e.g., discrimination) creates the context for interpersonal trauma within minority groups to be uniquely harmful. Learn more about Dr. Gómez's work.
Dr. Jennifer Jill Schwirzer
Survivors of sexual abuse by religious leaders experience unique forms of trauma demanding unique forms of treatment. Using a nonequivalent control group pretest posttest design, this study examined the effectiveness of one such treatment. The Abuse, Trauma, and Jesus workshop was designed to impart psychoeducation, coping tools, and support to survivors of sexual abuse by clergy. The treatment group added a servant leadership psychoeducation element. Before and after the intervention the participants completed the Primary Care PTSD Screen and the Attachment to God (ATG) Inventory. The research questions asked whether trauma symptoms and avoidant/anxious styles of God attachment would be reduced after the workshop, and whether the treatment group effect would be greater.
Dr. Jason Martin, PhD
Journal of Sociology and Christianity vol. 13, no. 2 (2023): 56-71
This reflection focuses on patterns of power abuse and dysfunction within the Protestant Church. The analysis focuses specifically on the troubling prevalence of Adult Clergy Sexual Abuse (ACSA). In systematically reflecting on this participant observation, the application of sociological theoretical frameworks leads to the following three possibilities. 1. A sociological approach facilitates a transformation in how ACSA survivors are viewed. This perspective encourages moving from the “SUCCUMB” to the “THIEVES” model for ACSA survivors. 2. A sociological approach highlights the tendency for faith-based institutional power to preserve, insulate, and protect itself from transformative structural change. 3. A sociological approach facilitates grappling with and re-imagining an institutional response to ACSA that avoids protectionism and reductionism, leading to a typology of potential institutional responses.
Dr. Diana R. Garland, PhD
Journal of the North American Association of Christians in Social Work vol. 33, no. 1 (Spring 2006): 1–35
This article examines the problem of clergy sexual abuse (CSA) with adult women. Victims and their families often seek help from Christian professionals outside the church, rendering Christian social workers and other Christian mental health professionals likely service providers in a major crisis looming before congregations and religious organizations. This article reviews resources for helping women, their families, and congregations survive the abuse of power and the betrayal of sacred trust embodied in clergy sexual abuse.
Dr. Ute Leimgruber
Religions. 2022; 13(3):256
Disproving assumptions to the contrary, this article clearly shows how and why adults can become victims of abuse in church contexts. It does this by focusing on the pastoral care context and the interdependent potential risk factors lying within. As previous studies suggest, this context is especially susceptible to perpetrating abuse. Approximately three-quarters of all cases of abuse occur or begin in the context of pastoral care or spiritual counseling. Often, theories of pastoral care do not address this danger and tend to idealize the practice of pastoral care. In contrast, it is necessary to recognize a specific power to victimize due to the theological and structural power differential in pastoral relationships. Therefore, this article proposes a complex understanding of “vulnerability” and “vulnerance” that accounts for the victimization potential inherent in all pastoral care settings and advocates a theory of pastoral care that is not only concerned with the individual but also incorporates reflections on structural and systemic power dynamics.
Rev. Dr. Wanda Lott Collins, PhD, ThB
Journal of Family and Community Ministries – Research & Application (Baylor School of Social Work): 10-17
This article is intended to increase understanding and address how professional helpers (e.g., members of the clergy, crime victim/witness protection programs, licensed mental health professionals or counselors, and social workers) can respond to sexual harassment complaints from female clergy and to discuss preventive strategies that can protect church members from its damaging effects.
Bradley J.B. Toben, BA, JD, LLM and Kris Helge, BA, JD
British Journal of American Legal Studies, vol. 1, no. 189 (April 2012): 189–216
Several state legislatures have attempted to craft statutes that provide civil remuneration for the victims or criminal punishments for the assailing clergy. However, the majority of these statutes have been deemed unconstitutional because they, in effect, require a court to interpret and redirect church policy. This article proposes a model statute that focuses upon the position and authority of the clergyperson and the consequent vulnerability or susceptibility of the alleged victim as the predicates for the sexual misconduct, and not on the fact that the actor is a member of the clergy, performing his or her clerical duties, or in any other manner forcing a court to interpret church policy or doctrine.
An additional article from Brad Toben and Kris Helge was featured on the Baylor University Clergy Sexual Misconduct Research Study website under Legislation Materials: Sexual Misconduct of Clergypersons with Congregants or Parishioners – Civil and Criminal Liabilities and Responsibilities (2011).
Dr. Carol Penner, PhD
Direction: A Mennonite Brethren Forum, vol. 45 no. 2 (Fall 2016): 192–208
In this paper Carol Penner provides a thumbnail historical overview of how sexual abuse and misconduct in the church came to awareness as a society, and outline the nature of the problem. Penner makes some observations about where Mennonites, and the Canadian Mennonite Brethren Church in particular, are (as of this writing) in relation to the topic of pastoral abuse of women, and then outlines next steps for reducing the risk of sexual violence in church settings.
Dr. Theresa W. Tobin, PhD
Feminist Philosophy Quarterly, vol. 5 no. 2 (July 2019)
Clergy sexual abuse is both sexual and psychological violence, but it is also a paradigmatic case of spiritual violence that rises to the level of religious trauma. In this paper Dr. Theresa Tobin argues that the spiritual violence of clergy sexual abuse diminishes, and in some cases may even destroy, a survivor’s capacities for religious faith or other forms of spiritual engagement. Dr. Tobin uses and illustrates the value of feminist methodology, as developed and advanced by Alison Jaggar, for generating and pursuing philosophical questions about religious experience. Feminist methodology’s sensitivity to theorizing situated subjects who stand to each other in relations of racialized male dominance helps us see the ways in which clergy sexual abuse is gender-based violence in both its causes and effects. It also helps us both ask and answer questions about religious faith in the unjust meantime from the perspective of those who endure spiritually violent faith communities.
Dr. Carly Smith, PhD and Dr. Jennifer Freyd, PhD
Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, vol. 26 no. 10 (June 2017): 1117-1131
Psychological trauma, particularly trauma involving betrayal, has been linked to health problems. Betrayal trauma is also characterized by dissociation and difficulty remembering as victims face conflicting demands presented by a harmful but important relationship. Institutional betrayal is related to, but distinct from, interpersonal betrayal and in need of research on its unique effects. The current study has two related goals. First, the association between institutional betrayal and health problems is examined. Second, the previously documented association between institutional betrayal and dissociative symptoms is re-examined, while controlling for betrayal trauma.
Dr. David Pooler, PhD and Dr. Liza Barros-Lane, PhD
Social Work, vol. 67 issue 2 (April 2022): 123–133
Given the paucity of research on the experiences of women who are sexually abused by clergy as adults and the advent of the #ChurchToo movement in 2017, the results of a mixed-methods national study highlight the experiences of those who survived the abuse and report on what factors are most healing in their recovery. Internet-based surveys with both quantitative and qualitative items were completed by 159 respondents. Less than 10 percent reported receiving help and support from their congregation after they reported the abuse, and about half of the respondents were blamed for the abuse and ignored by people in their congregations. In spite of the poor responses from their churches, these respondents reported positive beliefs regarding their ability to recover and heal. Mental health counseling was listed as a primary mechanism for healing. Multiple regression was used to develop a model of resilience. Faith in God was the most salient predictor. Those who survived sexual abuse need social workers who can navigate the complex set of factors and issues at the intersection of religion/spirituality, mental health treatment, and policy advocacy, including the ability to see what has been helpful about religious experiences and what has not.
Dr. Diana Garland, PhD and Dr. Mark Chaves, PhD
Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion vol. 48, no. 4 (December 2009): 817–24
The authors of this paper use the 2008 General Social Survey to estimate the prevalence of clergy sexual advances toward adults in their congregations. Overall, 3.1 percent of women who attend religious services at least monthly reported being the object of a sexual advance by a clergyperson or religious leader in their own congregation since turning 18; 2.2 percent of regularly attending women reported a sexual advance from a married leader that did not lead to an openly acknowledged relationship. They examine differences in the prevalence of this experience by education, region, religious tradition, marital status, age, and race.
Dr. Steven R. Tracy, PhD and Andy Maurer
Cultural Encounters, vol. 14, no. 2, (July 2019): 2-20(19)
Since the 1960s we have witnessed huge cultural sexual controversies and societal changes. This past year marked the inauguration of what appears to be another seismic sexual shift with the birth of the #MeToo movement. At the core of this unstructured crusade is the assertion that sexual abuse and harassment, particularly of women, is widespread and destructive. Furthermore, one of the dominant, reoccurring themes of #MeToo is the role that power plays in the sexual abuse and harassment of women. This essay surveys and notes the impact of the #MeToo movement in secular society and in the Evangelical church. It also explores several common Evangelical misunderstandings regarding sexual abuse and harassment unveiled by #MeToo, and closes by suggesting a few action steps for the church.
Ken Wells, MDiv, MA, LPC, CSAT-S, LISAC
Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, vol. 10 issue 2-3 (2003): 201-217
In 1995, the Interfaith Sexual Trauma Institute (ISTI) conducted a needs assessment of the problem of clergy sexual abuse by organizing three listening seminars in Los Angeles, California, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and St. Louis, Missouri. There were 290 participants plus ISTI board members. The goal of the seminars was to document what was really happening in the churches and synagogues across the country. Gathered at each seminar site were data from a questionnaire, which provided participant understanding and opinions about the nature and the impact of clergy sexual abuse. From their understanding, the participants prioritized treatment goals for primary victims, the broader congregation, and the clergy offender. This study is an attempt by the researcher to (1) analyze the collected data from the three listening conferences and (2) review relevant literature with respect to identifying the problem of clergy sexual abuse and creating a program to treat the problem in the future. This includes an analysis of the findings to better identify the problem in its early stages in order to effectively treat the victim and the perpetrator and eliminate possible factors that contribute to the problem.
Dr. James Newton Poling, PhD
Theology & Sexuality, vol. 11, issue 2 (January 2005): 55-70
After twenty years of reform, most church leaders can give an ethical analysis about why clergy sexual abuse is bad. Yet when many churches respond to complaints, committees are frequently inept in holding clergy abusers accountable, and clergy leaders are still likely to abuse their power over others. This article focuses on understanding clergy sexual abuse as a tangle of pathologies of theology, power, and sexuality.
Dr. Len Sperry, PhD
Spirituality in Clinical Practice, (2022)
The experience of being sexually abused by clergy is most often conceptualized as a psychological condition requiring psychotherapy. Recent research and developments have provided more compelling conceptualizations with recovery plans that are broader than psychotherapy alone. This article describes four conceptualizations: posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), moral injury, betrayal trauma, and sacred moral injury which is offered as the most compelling. Then, a five-step process of recovery, one of which is psychotherapy, is described along with the mental health professional’s role in this process. A case example illustrates the implementation of this process.
Dr. David K. Pooler, PhD and Amanda Frey, LMSW
Treating Trauma in Christian Counseling, (2017): ch. 15: 9
Clergy are capable of hurting the people they are entrusted to pastor and support. While the sexual abuse of children by clergy is understood to be morally wrong, and the lasting and tragic consequences are basically understood, the sexual abuse of adults is not as well comprehended in the church and in society. This chapter will describe clergy sexual misconduct (CSM) and clergy sexual abuse (CSA) of adults, provide an overview of some of the extant literature, and explain ways to effectively work with and provide treatment to the survivor of this type of abuse. In addition, this chapter will help the reader understand the context and complex factors at play in this type of abuse; a robust understanding will help a therapist or counselor validate the experience so that rapport is built with the survivor to establish and maintain a therapeutic relationship that facilitates a healing process.
Dr. Diana Garland, PhD
Clergy Sexual Abuse: Social Science Perspectives, (2013): ch. 6
This article discusses research findings on clergy sexual misconduct and includes information on the prevalence of CSM, the experiences of the victimized, including physiological and psychological, and how to care for the offended.
Dr. Diana R. Garland, PhD and Dr. David E. Garland, Phd
Flawed Families of the Bible How God’s Grace Works through Imperfect Relationships, (2007): ch. 6
This excerpt from Flawed Families of the Bible: How God’s Grace Works through Imperfect Relationships, co-authored by Dr. Diana R. Garland, clergy sexual misconduct researcher, looks again at the story of Bathsheba and David, exploring the dynamics of abuse of power, survival, and God’s working through even the most troubled and troubling family dynamics (2 Samuel 11:1-4a).
Dr. Peter Rutter, M.D.
International Journal for Clergy, (Jan. 1992): 6-9
Research indicates that clergy who sexually abuse women typically select their victims, with instances of women initiating sexual advances toward clergy being uncommon; nevertheless, in the event of such a scenario, this book excerpt underscores the responsibility of clergy and other counseling professionals not to exploit or abuse their power when dealing with women. This excerpt from the book Sex in the Forbidden Zone (1989) was reprinted in Ministry, International Journal for Clergy, in 1992.
Stephanie Dickrell and Dr. David Pooler, PhD
This interview by Stephanie Dickrell of SC Times with researcher Dr. David Pooler, PhD details what clergy sexual abuse is, what happens, who is at risk, and how can it be prevented. It also presents professional research findings on clergy sexual misconduct.
Lea Karen Kivi, M.A., WFA, Q.Med
This article from the president of Angela’s Heart Communications Inc. discusses adult clergy sexual abuse and presents possible solutions to help victims and potential victims in the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). The mission of Angela’s Heart is to provide services and resources in support of harm prevention, healing, and, where possible, reconciliation. Her advocacy work also includes additional articles and educational videos on clergy sexual abuse of adults and Sacramental Disability and Canon Law, which is specific to addressing abuse in the RCC.
Amy Nordhues, Author, Speaker, Advocate
This article discusses adult clergy sexual abuse and therapist abuse. The author addresses power imbalance, how prior trauma increases the vulnerability of clergy sexual abuse victims, the problem of dual relationships, and how victims are entrapped. Amy Nordhues is a survivor of therapist/clergy sexual abuse and author of Prayed Upon: Breaking Free from Therapist Abuse.
Mark Scheffers, MDiv, LMSW
This article explains why adult victims of clergy sexual abuse should not blame themselves, highlighting factors such as abusers breaking professional contracts and manipulating victims' attachments. The author underscores that survivors must not blame themselves and advocates seeking support from understanding individuals to counteract self-blame.
This article explains in detail many tactics abusive clergy use to groom the religious congregation, as well as the victim(s). This article is provided by ACNAtoo, launched in June 2021, in response to the pleas of survivors of sexual abuse and their advocates in the Diocese of the Upper Midwest in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).
ACNAtoo now exists to support people in all dioceses of the ACNA. Their team is made up of survivors, clergy, theologians, mental health professionals, trauma-informed consultants, public relations specialists, graphic designers, communications strategists, researchers, members of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest and other dioceses, and parents who seek a better church for their children.
Dr. Jennifer M. Gómez, PhD
Dr. Jennifer Gómez, a trauma expert, introduces cultural betrayal trauma theory (CBTT), highlighting the unique harm faced by minority groups, particularly when victimized by members of their own community. She explains that minority individuals develop "(intra)cultural trust" to protect themselves from societal hostility, and within-group violence, termed "cultural betrayal," violates this trust. This trauma results in various outcomes beyond typical trauma effects, including internalized prejudice and (intra)cultural pressure. In a study of college women, cultural betrayal trauma and (intra)cultural pressure were associated with PTSD symptoms, emphasizing their role in mental health issues among ethnic minority women. Dr. Gómez underscores the need for policy changes to address inequality and suggests interventions that consider both discrimination and (intra)cultural trust to promote positive mental health.
Dr. Andrew J. Schmutzer, PhD
This study is one voice at the table in a much-needed dialogue. The goals are to further educate Christian leaders by normalizing the crisis of sexual abuse, create an understanding that promotes healing for the abused, and foster biblical-theological reflection among biblical educators, pastors, and church leadership, by deepening our insight into foundational creation texts with an eye to sexual abuse. These are texts pertaining to the image of God mandate (Gen 1:28; Ps 8:5–8), and human sexuality (Gen 1:27; 2:23–24).
Dr. Andrew J. Schmutzer, PhD
Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care, vol. 2, issue 1 (May 2009): 67-86
As a distortion of God’s created designs, sexual abuse (SA) carries a unique devastation-factor. Abuse that is sexual in nature damages a spectrum of internal and external aspects of personhood. In particular, the core realities of: (1) self-identity, (2) community, (3) and spiritual communion with God can be deeply fractured through SA. In light of the significance of the image of God, movement toward healing includes strengthening personal agency, processing profound boundary ruptures, and managing disillusionment with God. Due to the multi-faceted trauma of sexual abuse (i.e., physical, social, spiritual) spiritual formation programs must not only plan for the unique profile of abuse victims, but also need to incorporate a fuller understanding and praxis of the realities of embodiment, ritual, and theocentric metaphor into their transformational goals. Analysis includes first-person experience, anthropological science, and theological reflection.
Rev. Dr. Timothy R. LeCroy, PhD, Dr. Lloyd Pierson, PhD, Rev. Shane Michael Waldron, MDiv, Rev. T. Cal Boroughs, MDiv, Dr. Kelly H. Dehnert, DMin, Dr. David R. Haburchak, MD, Robert D. Goudzwaard, Ann Maree Goudzwaard, MDiv, Darby A. Strickland, MDiv, Dr. Barbara W. Shaffer, PhD, Dr. M. Diane Langberg, PhD, Rachael J. Denhollander, JD
The Ad Interim Committee Report on Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault prepared for the 49th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (2022) includes biblical and theological foundations of understanding abuse (Section One), and practical pastoral aspects of abuse in the church (Sections Two through Five).
Dr. Nate Brooks, PhD
This article was written for Biblical Counseling Coalition, which provides educational resources for biblical counselors, such as those holding certification from the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC), Association of Biblical Counselors (ABC), or certificates through the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF), etc. Biblical counseling is an approach to counseling that uses the Bible to address the issues in the lives of individuals, couples, and families.
Dr. Brooks addresses abuse of power by those with authority through the examination of scripture, particularly the biblical story of King David and his taking of Bathsheba.
Dr. Rev. James Newton Poling, PhD
This article by James Poling, a retired pastor and professor of pastoral theology, care, and counseling at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, addresses how all power is from God. Abuse of power is the abuse of a gift that God gives to us. Dr. Poling is author of several publications, including the book, The Abuse of Power: A Theological Problem.
Rev. Dr. Paul Baxley, DMin
Drawing on 2 Samuel 11:1-6, 12:1-15, and Matthew 11:28-30, Rev. Baxley preached this sermon addressing how the Church should respond to abuse of power and sexual abuse, while serving as senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Athens, Georgia. Paul A. Baxley is executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
Dr. Diane Langberg, PhD
Dr. Langberg's book, Redeeming Power: Understanding Authority and Abuse in the Church, addresses adult clergy sexual abuse and offers a clinical and theological framework for understanding how power operates, the effects of the abuse of power, and how power can be redeemed and restored to its proper God-given place in relationships and institutions. Her book not only helps Christian leaders identify and resist abusive systems but also shows how they can use power to protect the vulnerable in their midst.
Dr. Langberg has also taught on a variety of topics relevant to clergy sexual misconduct, including (1) how the church should respond to abusers, (2) how ministry Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) enable abuse, (3) the prevalence of abusive church leadership and those who tolerate the misuse of power, and (4) recommendations for churches dealing with abuse.
Rev. Micah Pritchett, MDiv
Rev. Micah Pritchett preached this sermon on June 10, 2018. Rev. Pritchett serves on the Clergy Sexual Misconduct Task Force, a joint work of Baptist Women in Ministry and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. He is a pastor at North Broad Baptist Church, Rome, GA.
Dr. Diana R. Garland, PhD and Dr. David E. Garland, Phd
This excerpt from Flawed Families of the Bible: How God’s Grace Works through Imperfect Relationships (ch. 6) looks at the story of Bathsheba and David, exploring the dynamics of abuse of power, survival, and God’s working through even the most troubled and troubling family dynamics (2 Samuel 11:1-4a).
This article by author, divorce recovery leader, and researcher, Gretchen Baskerville, explores Genesis 39 and explains the many ways sexual abuse victims resist their abuser that may not be understood by bystanders.
Aaron Hann, MA, NCC
This article written by counselor and abuse advocate, Aaron Hann, is an adaptation of Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses focused on the problem of spiritual abuse in the Church. In light of scripture, this article is a call for church leaders to have a greater concern about wolves among their leadership, rather than merely among those they lead.
This resource page includes information specific to clergy sexual abuse against adults. FaithTrust Institute is a multifaith, multicultural training and education organization with global reach that provides faith communities and advocates with the tools and knowledge they need to address the faith and cultural issues related to abuse. FaithTrust Institute provides multifaith and religion-specific intervention and prevention training, consulting, and educational materials for national, state, and community faith-based and secular organizations.
SNAP Network (SNAP)
This resource page contains information regarding abuse by religious leaders toward adults, specifically. SNAP is an independent peer network of survivors of institutional sexual abuse and their supporters who work to (1) support survivors, (2) protect children, (3) protect the vulnerable, (4) heal the wounded, and (5) expose the truth.
This resource page provides articles relevant to clergy sexual abuse and misconduct. AdvocateWeb is a nonprofit organization providing information and resources to promote awareness and understanding of the issues involved in the exploitation of persons by trusted helping professionals, including clergy. AdvocateWeb is a helpful resource for victims/survivors, their family and friends, the general public, and victim advocates and professionals.
Rev. Jim Evinger
This extensive annotated bibliography on clergy sexual abuse provides resources on sexual boundary violations within the religious community and is an invaluable resource for researchers, institutions, and survivors. While the bibliography focuses on the position and role of clergy, the concept of sexual boundary violation by someone in a religious role is applied here to include other positions that also involve fiduciary trust and power (for example, a missionary or youth worker).
clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse of adults, clergy sexual abuse of adults, clergy sexual misconduct of adults, clergy sexual malfeasance, sexual abuse by clergy, sexual misconduct by clergy, spiritual abuse, misuse of power, abuse of power, patriarchy and abuse, moral injury, sacred trust, institutional betrayal, betrayal trauma, complex trauma, sexual boundaries, pastoral, clergy ethics, women, men, adults, posttraumatic stress, trauma, congregations, religion, evangelical purity culture, #churchtoo, #metoo,
Ann Maree Goudzwaard, MDiv, Dr. Heather Evans, DSW, LCSW, Dr. David Pooler, PhD, LCSW, and Dr. Nate Brooks, PhD
This 6-episode podcast series features an anonymous survivor and expert contributors speaking on adult clergy sexual abuse. Rich in information, this podcast provides immense insight into the experiences of survivors and how the Church and Christian/biblical counselors can respond properly. Safe to Hope, Hope Renewed in Light of Eternity, is a ministry of Help[H]er.
Robert Vore, MS, LPC, NCC, CCATP, Dr. Holly Oxhandler, PhD, and Dr. David Pooler, PhD
In this podcast episode, guest Dr. David Pooler, researcher of clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse of adults, discusses common experiences of survivors, suggestions for preventing and responding to clergy abuse, and the path to healing for both survivors and congregations. CXMH is a podcast at the intersection of faith & mental health, hosted by Robert Vore & Dr. Holly Oxhandler. Read research and publications by Dr. David Pooler.
Danielle Strickland and Dr. Charlotte Naylor Davis, PhD
In this podcast, spiritual leader and justice advocate Danielle Strickland and Dr. Charlotte Naylor Davis, a scholar of Biblical studies, discuss grooming, consent, and the difference between clergy sexual abuse and an “affair.” On Right Side Up Podcast, Danielle Strickland “hosts convos, people, and ideas.”
Anne Blythe and Dr. Dave Gemmell, DMin
This podcast interview and transcript with Dave Gemmell, Associate Director of the North American Division (NAD) Ministerial Association by Anne Blythe, Executive Director of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery (BTR) support group features valuable information on clergy sexual misconduct and how it can be prevented. With many years of pastoral experience, Dave understands the trauma that women undergo when they are victims of clergy sexual misconduct. Betrayal Trauma Recovery Podcast helps women establish safety from the pain and chaos caused by their husband’s lying, gaslighting, manipulation, porn use, cheating, infidelity, emotional abuse, and narcissistic behaviors. BTR also assists in healing from clergy-induced trauma.
Rachael Stone and Chellee Taylor
In part 1 and part 2 of this podcast, host Rachel Stone of Rachel on Recovery interviews survivor Chellee Taylor. Chellee articulates her experience of grooming in detail. Chellee shares how after the sexual assault by her pastor/boss, the church she looked to for help retraumatized her. This podcast is an excellent resource to understand how adult clergy sexual abuse plays out over time and how institutions betray survivors. Read transcript.
Dr. David Pooler, PhD, LCSW-S
This concise 8-minute video by Baylor University's Center for Church & Community Impact (C3i) adeptly explains clergy sexual abuse of adults and how churches should respond. Dr. Pooler directed the first national survey of adult survivors of clergy sexual abuse in 2015. 280 survivors participated in the research study.
Dr. Jason Martin, PhD and Kelly Martin
Adapted from his presentation at the Christian Sociological Association Annual Conference, Dr. Jason Martin, an institutional researcher, explains how a social science perspective provides an opportunity to (1) transform how adult clergy sexual abuse survivors are viewed, (2) understand the unique devastation when abuse occurs within the Church, and (3) re-imagine an institutional/collective response that avoids protectionism and reductionism.
Dr. Heather Evans, DCSW, Dr. Todd Bhelenkert, PhD and Chellee Taylor
This presentation by SBC Voices was a breakout session of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) 2023 Annual Meeting. Topics include dynamics of adult clergy sexual abuse, theological considerations, proper language, institutional response, trauma and recovery.
Lori Anne Thompson and Dr. Ray Douglas, PhD
In this conversation by GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in a Christian Environment), Lori Anne Thompson and Dr. Ray Douglas discuss clergy sexual abuse against adults, what faith communities, denominations, and ministry leaders can do to prevent it, how to hold offenders accountable, and what adult congregants can do in their community to prevent and help their church respond well.
Lea Karen Kivi and James and Patrick from Soaring Prophets
In this interview, Lea Karen Kivi, president of Angela’s Heart Communications Inc., discusses adult clergy sexual abuse, findings from research, and possible solutions to this help address this problem in the Church.
Glen Scrivener and Dr. Diane Langberg, PhD
This interview by Glen Scrivener of Speak Life with globally recognized trauma expert, psychologist, author, and international speaker, Dr. Diane Langberg, highlights the issue of clergy sexual misconduct/clergy sexual abuse. Dr. Langberg is author of several books, including Redeeming Power, Understanding Authority and Abuse in the Church, which discusses clergy sexual misconduct and abuse of power in the Church. See resources by Dr. Diane Langberg.
Dr. Stephen E. de Weger, PhD
This presentation addresses the contexts of adult abuse, what grooming, and abuse looks like for both men and women, appropriate vulnerability vs. forced vulnerability, how the clerical culture of secrets, silence, and intimidation makes reporting abuse immensely difficult for survivors, and more. Read Dr. Stephen de Weger’s research on clergy sexual misconduct of adults.
Dr. Jim Hopper, PhD
This presentation by researcher and clinical psychologist, Dr. Jim Hopper, will help you understand why victims of sexual abuse do not always fight back or flee when sexually assaulted and why understanding our physiology and neurobiology of trauma will prevent retraumatizing survivors through victim blaming and shaming. Learn more from Dr. Jim Hopper about sexual assault and the brain.
Eric Skwarczynski and Amy Nordhues
This interview by Eric Skwarczynski, host of Preacher Boys with author, speaker, and advocate Amy Nordhues, details how predatory clergy use counseling to groom and abuse those in their care. Amy is a survivor of clergy/therapist sexual abuse perpetrated by her former therapist, who was also a Bible scholar and elder at her church. Amy’s story of clergy sexual abuse is captured in her memoir, Prayed Upon: Breaking Free from Therapist Abuse.
Danielle Strickland and James Scholl
This interview by Danielle Strickland, Right Side Up Podcast host, offers a wealth of information. One of the founders of Restored Voices Collective, a peer-support community for adult clergy sexual abuse survivors, addresses what happens when churches respond poorly to disclosures and how to correct it. Danielle Strickland is co-founder of Hagar's Voice, a ministry supporting adult clergy sexual abuse survivors.