Catholic Priests Abused Women, Too

According to a Salon article [Devout and defiled: While male victims of predatory priests dominate the headlines, abused girls and women suffer in silence], statistics show that half of the victims of sexual abuse at the hands of priests are women; something I’ve been saying all along. Which means that the the sex abuse scandal with the church was not the fault of gay people, as the Catholic Church claims, but the fault of the Church itself, who kept secret all the abuse for so many years.

Abuse survivors, along with their attorneys and psychologists, say that sexism and social conditioning, magnified many times over within the Catholic Church, have led to the trivialization of harm suffered by women who have come forward to finally report abuse by priests. At the same time, these same factors have caused women to be ashamed — and keep silent — about their experiences.

“There’s no question that abuse of women [by priests] has been vastly underreported,” says A.W. Richard Sipe, a former priest and psychotherapist who has studied priests’ sex lives for more than 30 years. “There’s a tremendous bias against women in the U.S. — and the world — and a tremendous callousness about sexual abuse against women.”

No secular organization has statistics on the total number of people abused by priests; the most complete numbers are held by church officials, who aren’t sharing. But attorneys and survivor networks estimate that from one-third to over a half of all victims of sexually abusive priests are women. And criminal cases filed in the last year in Los Angeles County involve approximately the same number of male and female victims.

A key quote about why we hear so much about the abuse of boys:

“Women and girls are every bit as much at risk as boys and men,” says Schoener. “But the sexual abuse of a boy is treated far more seriously, and is considered a far worse offense. Men are regarded as too strong to be victims; their victimization is somehow more shocking to the public. Women are expected to put up with more.”

“To begin with, women appear less likely to report abuse, says Schoener. The shame of sexual abuse is similar for both genders, but women tend to be “trashed” by church officials and supporters as being seductresses, he says. “We have seen girls as young as 10 portrayed as sirens.” Reporting sex abuse also tends to have more serious ramifications for a woman’s marriage.”

Posted in Feminism & Women's Issues, Religion Tagged with: , , , , , ,

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