As I have grown older, I have become increasingly disillusioned with most of the people I know in the church. In my personal opinion, there is often a culture of judgment within the institution, where everyone believes they know what God wants. However, that is not the main topic I want to discuss here, as it seems that people outside the church also claim to have superior knowledge.
This time, I want to shed light on the issues I encountered when I was younger, specifically regarding sexual harassment in the church, under the guise of holiness.
I have come across several instances in group or private conversations where many women in Indonesia have experienced sexual harassment within the Christian community. Today, I attempted to find sources that could validate my own experience of being sexually abused in the Christian community, and I discovered the following information:
In an average American congregation of 400 people, with women constituting around 60% of the congregation, there are, on average, 7 women who have experienced clergy sexual misconduct.
50% of pastors admit to using pornography, and 37% report engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior with someone in the church.
40% of married pastors have had extramarital affairs while serving as pastors (clergy abuse).
- Pedophilic molesters have an average of 12 child victims and commit an average of 71 acts of molestation.
- In an earlier study by Dr. Abel, out of 561 sexual offenders, there were over 291,000 incidents, resulting in over 195,000 victims. These numbers are equivalent to filling 2 ½ Superdomes. The study also found that only 3% of these sexual offenders have a chance of being caught.
Dr. Anna Salter, in her book, conducted interviews with sexual offenders who admitted to having between 10 and 1250 victims. She also noted that every offender she interviewed had been previously reported by children, but the reports were ignored.
If you wish to explore more about these distressing truths, you can examine the research yourself. I am speaking here as a victim, and I believe it is important to raise awareness within the Christian community and prompt action. However, I understand that diagnosing the problem is challenging for the institution due to the lack of solid data. Moreover, the judgmental atmosphere within the church community makes it difficult for victims to come forward, as I experienced myself.
As both a victim and the daughter of Christian priests, I have witnessed my mother’s efforts to eradicate predators within the Christian community. However, she has faced rejection and criticism for raising this issue too loudly.
Nevertheless, I am determined to increase awareness. I have stopped attending church because it is no longer a safe space for me. Outside, despite the world’s cruelty, I can still find circles that are far from predators. Rather than being compelled to go to church every Sunday and participate in daily prayers with the youth or community, I prefer to distance myself.
People talk about me as the daughter of priests and consider me a lost sheep, without knowing what I have endured within the Christian community. To this day, I remain a spiritual person, maintaining my own connection with God or any higher power one may address, which brings me greater comfort. However, I have no intentions of returning to the church. I understand that one person’s actions do not define an entire group, just as we cannot judge the world based on the actions of one person. Yet, after experiencing sexual abuse more than ten times within the institution, I don’t believe I have the courage to return.