Systemic_Practice_in_a_Complex_System._Child_Sexual_Abuse_and_the_Catholic_Church.doc

Resisting totalizing descriptions of the victim

Info icon This preview shows pages 9–11. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Resisting Totalizing Descriptions of the Victim Beyond serving the important function of providing a language for legal proceedings and of giving emphasis to the criminal aspects of the behaviour of sexual abuse and violence that has hitherto gone in the main unrecognized, the language victim and offender is actually a limiting one, acting as a constraint and barrier in any endeavour to understand the complex issues involved, and to find a way forward. When can one stop being cast as a victim, or is this always the description that accompanies one through life? When does one stop being cast as an offender: 1 year, 10 years, forty years after the offence? When is the attribution of these descriptions something personal and when is it a public process? Although a full examination of the experiences of the survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy is beyond the scope of this chapter, the Ryan Report (2009) revealed that emotional, physical and sexual abuse was endemic within child care institutions run by the religious orders on behalf of the Irish state. It was reported that children were regularly subjected to severe, violent and arbitrary corporal punishments that were designed to maximise pain and humiliation. This created a pervasive climate of fear as 9
Image of page 9

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
children never knew when or why the next beating would occur. Their emotional trauma was exacerbated by constant ridicule and other practices designed to elicit feelings of shame and degradation. Children were often separated from families and some were even informed (falsely) that their parents were dead. In addition, malnutrition, inadequate clothing, oppressive regimes, austere accommodation, poor hygiene, and limited education and training opportunities contributed to a culture of physical neglect. Sexual abuse was also common in male institutions. Studies have found that survivors of child sexual abuse may experience long-term psychological, economic and social consequences. Carr et al. (2010) studied the psychological wellbeing of 247 survivors of institutional abuse and found that over 80% were suffering from psychological disorders, including anxiety, mood and substance abuse, and had weak social attachments. In addition, Barrett, Kamiya and O’Sullivan (2014) found that male victims of child sexual abuse are three times more likely than the general population to be unemployed as a result of illness or disability. In modern society sex acts with children are illegal because of the likelihood of harm to children. However, there is evidence to show that children are not universally harmed by sexual abuse (Clancy, 2010), although some very clearly are, as suggested above. For some individuals it is a relatively unimportant event in their lives, or even a challenge from which they have gained strength. Clancy argues that survivors of childhood sexual abuse are victimized not only by their abusers (whose acts often leave them confused and sometimes frightened), but also and inadvertently by well-intentioned health professionals, whose
Image of page 10
Image of page 11
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern