Girls Count Too
Although media coverage of the scandal in the Catholic Church has tended to highlight male victims, girls have also suffered at the hands of predatory priests. The Catholic Church has actively blocked efforts to study this issue, but experts on child molestation generally agree that girls make up one third to one half of all victims of clergy sexual abuse. In line with these estimates, nearly half of all members of major survivors’ groups such as SNAP and the Link-Up are women.
Scores of women have come forward to tell their stories since the scandal broke over eleven months ago. However, many of these stories have been suppressed by journalists who seem to agree with Church leaders’ notion that raping a boy is somehow worse than raping a girl, an offensive idea that fits in with the Vatican’s unsuccessful efforts to link homosexuality with child abuse.
To correct the popular misconception of this crisis as a “homosexual problem” and to promote accurate understanding of the realities of child molestation, we call on the media to promote a respectful environment that makes it safe for both male and female victims to speak the truth.
Since we know that untold numbers of female survivors have been silenced or dismissed by Church officials and reporters, we also want all victims to know that we believe that your stories are important; we do not minimize the crimes that were committed against you; and we will do our best to help you in any way we can. If you need assistance, please contact SNAP. You can find contact information in your area on the Internet at http://www.survivorsnetwork.org.
For estimates of the ratio between male and female victims, see
Richard Sipe, The Sipe Report: http://www.thelinkup.com/sipe.html
Jane Lampman, "A Wider Circle of Abuse," Christian Science Monitor
Mary A. Tolbert, "Where Have All the Young Girls Gone?," CLGS
Louise Haggett, "New Information on Mandatory Celibacy and Clergy Abuse"
For more information on media coverage of the scandal in the Church, please visit http://faculty.uml.edu/sgallagher/spotlight.htm.