Frequently Asked Questions

The first 16 questions commonly come from survivors.
The last 7 are from advocates, family members, students, scholars, or other professionals.

(Some of the most common questions about sexual abuse, in general, are addressed in an article I wrote years ago. The content applies to any type of abuse.)

QUESTIONS commonly asked by Survivors:

1. I've been holding this in for a long time without telling a soul in my church until now. I think I'm ready. How do I even start?

2. How can I go on coping with what happened when nobody I know wants to hear?

3. What about forgiveness? People keep saying I have a "forgiveness problem." I'm confused.

4. Am I wrong to insist that my perpetrator needs to be held responsible?

5. What are my obligations as a survivor?

6. I'd like to do something to help others, like maybe writing a book. What advice do you have?

7. As a victim of domestic violence, my pastor and church leaders insist I must go back. I feel guilty leaving and think maybe they are right saying my leaving would not be a good example to others. What do you think?

8. What happened to me wasn't sexual abuse because I was an adult. So why do I often feel like I was raped?

9. Am I to blame if I didn't stand up to the perpetrator immediately?

10. Sometimes I think I'm still very much in love with the man who abused me. Is that crazy?

11. What can I do to restore my faith?

12. How can I ever trust anyone again?

13. Will I ever get over what happened to me?

14. I'm having difficulty finding professionals (like therapists and lawyers) who understand issues of professional sexual abuse.

15. Can you recommend other resources that address the collusion in the faith community?

16. Is there a reliable data base, available to the public, to provide the names and locations of clergy perpetrators? If not, why not?


1. How can I best be of support to my loved one?

2. My wife (or husband) is a victim of sexual misconduct, but won't admit it. She is still in love with the perpetrator and has left me and my kids because of the abuse! What can I do?

3. I feel like my marriage is falling apart since my spouse began facing reality, even though the original abuse happened long ago. Where do I myself find support?

4. As a family member, I've suffered a lot myself in trying to find justice and understanding in the church. Sometimes I feel like I was victimized just as much as my son (or daughter, sister, spouse). Is this common?

5. I'm a professional counselor with little background in theological issues myself. Do you have any special recommendations for me, to help me address spiritual issues of my client?

6. Is abuse more common in certain faith communities?

7. I'm a pastor who has suffered much persecution from my own colleagues and congregants when I tried to see that an abuser was held accountable. Can you help me find support?

8. I want to teach people in my church or seminary class how to better respond to victims. What tips do you have?