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Gartner, R.B. (2004). Predatory Priests Sexually Abusing Fathers. Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 5(1):31-56.

(2004). Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 5(1):31-56

Predatory Priests Sexually Abusing Fathers

Richard B. Gartner, Ph.D.

The media, the public, and the Church have spotlighted the effects of the scandals on the Church rather than the effects of priest abuse on its victims. Child sexual abuse has ominous relational implications for its victims. It often results in distrust of authority; seeing relationships in hierarchical, exploitative terms; distance and isolation; and fear of relating. Dissociation, an adaptive response to trauma, can become a characteristic, dysfunctional response to stress. Boys often have particular problems because of socialized masculine-gender norms that men are not victims and concerns about the implications of same-sex abuse for their sexual orientation. To these aftereffects, sexual abuse by a priest adds betrayal of spirituality, unconscious feelings that incest has occurred, and a crisis of faith arising from a sense that one has betrayed God. Examples from film, clinical practice, and an interview with a mental health professional sexually abused as a boy illustrate these points.

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