As this story on sexual abuse in the Mormon Church shows, it is the abuse of a “position of trust” that is so damaging to children.  I have long opined that a child would actually be better off in the long run if he or she were assaulted by a total stranger than seduced and betrayed by someone he or she loves and trusts, especially a trusted religious figure. In the former case, the child would take away that the world can be a dangerous place, and would have to work through feelings of trauma, fear and safety—all difficult and tragic enough.  But with the latter case—abuse by a trusted religious authority figure—the child learns that there really is no one to trust, that affection or love is false and a pretense for manipulation—in which case he or she goes through life with a retarded ability to trust, to be vulnerable, and even to love.  While we should hope and pray that no child has to experience either scenario, my experience as an attorney for child sexual abuse survivors is that it is the betrayal of trust and of religious integrity that does such pernicious and permanent damage.

 

 

Kelly Clark

About Kelly Clark

Most centrally, for nearly twenty years, Kelly Clark was a leading advocate for victims of ...