Research on clergy misconduct is in its infancy and focuses on sexual misconduct. In this case study, 148 participants describe firsthand experiences with clergy nonsexual misconduct in Protestant churches. A two-step mixed methods data analysis process is used to analyze experiences and effects of clergy misconduct. Victims of clergy nonsexual misconduct experience intense negative emotional responses, with powerful feelings of devastation, aloneness, betrayal, confusion, and disillusionment. Upon reports of clergy misconduct, church groups engage in protective group dynamics such as rationalizing clergy behavior and pressuring victims to back down. Church groups then join clergy to commit escalating second victimizations that involve social ostracization, public shaming, and threats and use of church discipline. Accessing accountability mechanisms within churches and denominations simply creates another layer of victimization and compounds the trauma that victims suffer following clergy misconduct. Clergy misconduct is condoned and perpetuated by churches and denominations. An overwhelming majority of clergy misconduct victims leave their church families and lose their social communities, with sweeping long-term impact on social identity and self-identity. Clergy misconduct results in complex trauma with multiple life areas affected in profound ways. Second victimizations by church families increase the depth and scope of trauma. Lasting effects of clergy misconduct include declined emotional wellbeing, chronic rumination, impaired trust, social hypervigilance, altered spirituality, and altered church involvement. Clergy misconduct creates a population of spiritual refugees suffering from ruptured attachment and complex trauma in isolation.
|Commitee:||Mintzer, Robin, McKiernan, Patrick|
|School:||California Southern University|
|Department:||School of Behavioral Sciences|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 81/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Social psychology, Clergy, Behavioral psychology|
|Keywords:||Church abuse, Church misconduct, Clergy abuse, Clergy misconduct, Protestant, Spiritual abuse|
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