A person who is sexually exploited by her pastor (or someone in a position of spiritual leadership) may initially feel flattered and singled out because he or she feels special. The forbidden quality of the relationship adds a romantic adventurousness.
She may even believe the relationship is consensual and mutual, perhaps even God’s will. At some point he or she may begin to realize the relationship is not mutual and feel exploited. The betrayal is often experienced as a betrayal by God as well as by the offending minister.
The victim may blame himself or herself for corrupting a pure pastor and assume responsibility for the abuse. The violation of the sacred trust may leave victims’ boundaries shattered, their sense of self-worth destroyed, and belief in God taken away. He or she often feels betrayed by God as well as the pastoral leader.
Other effects include:
- fear of being blamed by the church
- retaliation from the pastoral leader
- no help for the original problem
This list is by no means complete.
Next: Click on Effects of Exploitation on Others.