Abuse Survivors Struggle with Loss of Faith, Confidence

By Michelle Roberts
The Baptist Standard

November 7, 2008

ST. HELENS, Ore. (RNS)—It’s been 23 years since Diane Bach left the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries compound in Arkansas, but she still struggles to make decisions for herself.

As a waitress hands Bach a menu, she swallows hard. Her hands begin to tremble; she shifts uncomfortably in her chair. Soon, she’s sweating, and red blotches pool on her chest like spilled wine.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I have a lot of trouble ordering from a simple menu because, to this day, I have trouble making my own choices.” ...

“Virtually every abuse victim feels alone,” said David Clohessy, national director of St. Louis-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

“But I believe that no victim feels more alone than somebody abused by a religious figure or in a religious setting. The most universal source of comfort and solace in painful times is God. But if God is perceived to be an integral part of one’s abuse and cover-up, victims are left with virtually nowhere to turn.”


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