Clericalism, Religious Duress and its Psychological Impact on Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse

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Abstract

Religious duress is a unique kind of threat and constraint involuntarily experienced by some members of the Roman Catholic Church as a result of religious indoctrination and training. Fear, awe and respect for the clergy foster the development and actualization of religious duress. This phenomenon can seriously impede a person's capacity to accurately perceive and evaluate abusive actions perpetrated on them by clergy. This constraint poses an impediment to emotional and spiritual development. Internalized religious duress confuses and psychologically overwhelms such individuals and renders them incapable of absorbing their sexual trauma. The consequent feelings of numbness and immobility distort the perception of reality. It then becomes impossible for the individual to act in a manner that would protect and promote emotional growth and spiritual well being.

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