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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Faith Leads to Guilt & Solace in Abuse Victims

Religious beliefs produce various reactions in childhood sexual abuse victims, according to Jean-Guy Nadeau, a professor of theology and religious sciences at the Université de Montréal. Nadeau interviewed women who were abused as children and found that those who had a strong religious upringing often felt terrible guilt about their abuse and believed they'd go to hell if they didn't forgive their abusers. “A child’s God can be kidnapped and exploited by an adult, often by the very adult who taught the child about God in the first place,” says Nadeau. “It’s the victims, not the aggressors, who find themselves silenced and overwhelmed by guilt, pain, and isolation.”
Some kids, says Nadeau, stop believing in a God that doesn't protect children, others pray their abuse will end, and others recite prayers to fortify themselves during the ordeal and foster resilience. —Heather Wax