Why Adult Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse Are Not To Blame By Mark Scheffers


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If your pastor sexually abused you after you had become an adult you may ask, “How can it be that I’m not partly to blame? I was an adult after all. Didn’t I keep it a secret?” Maybe you were married and you lament, “I broke my marriage vows.” The evidence seems conclusive: The pastor can’t be the only one who did wrong. But that conclusion ignores the circumstances. Just as a driver is not prosecuted for running a red light to get his pregnant wife to the hospital, your behavior must be considered against the background of how you were being abused. There are at least six reasons why you are not to blame for what happened to you.

1. You had a right to expect your abuser would honor his professional contract.
Your pastor seemed like a friend. Like good friends, good pastors show interest, care, support, and encouragement for their parishioners. But every pastor is more than a friend to his congregation members and community. After all, your pastor was paid to relate to you in a caring way. He (1) was under a professional contract to provide attention and support to you and other members of the congregation. Whether his contract was written or not, your pastor was employed by the church with the understanding that he would use his skills and training to benefit members of the church community. When your pastor initiated sexual contact with you he broke that contract. You were not responsible for knowing what kind of behavior was or was not called for in his contract. It was his contract not yours. Taking advantage of you sexually (even if you approached him sexually) was never part of that contract. You had a right to expect he would honor the boundaries inherent in his professional contract

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