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Publication: Dear Abby
Guidance Of Experts Can Help Family Heal After Pastor Abuse

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         DEAR ABBY - April 8, 2008 
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GUIDANCE OF EXPERTS CAN HELP FAMILY HEAL AFTER PASTOR ABUSE

ABBY: I'm writing in response to "In True Love in 
Washington" (Feb. 4), about the 16-year-old who became 
pregnant by her pastor. What she described is not a 
"love" relationship; it is an abusive one. A pastor who 
has a sexual relationship with a member of his 
congregation is misusing his power, and this constitutes 
clergy sexual misconduct.

You were correct when you stated that "if there is any 
'shaming,'" it should be directed at the pastor. 
Unfortunately, that is not typically the case. The shaming 
of victims that follows disclosure is nearly unbearable. 
Church officials typically collude in denial or cover up 
the problem. Rarely is there any care for the victim.

For this reason, a sex-abuse therapist and a spiritual 
director familiar with this type of abuse are helpful in 
the healing process. In addition, it is vital for the 
victim and her family to find the support of someone who 
has lived through clergy sexual misconduct because it is 
unlikely they will find support in their current circle 
of friends. 
-- C.W., MUSKEGON, MICH.

C.W.: Thank you for sharing some valuable suggestions. The 
responses to "True Love" offered additional steps for her 
to consider. Read on:


ABBY: You were right to point out that "Reverend Ron" is 
the one in the wrong. However, if the issue is not turned 
over to the police, the church's investigation may put a 
different slant on the results. Only law enforcement 
officers know the questions to ask in order to get the 
facts as they should be obtained. 
-- ADA IN OLEAN, N.Y.


ABBY: Both my husband and I are pastors and have had to 
deal with a similar situation in our region. Unfortunately, 
the abuse and misuse of pastoral authority is too prevalent. 
It is widespread, although not indicative of most clergy, 
who seek to serve faithfully.

I don't know who is responsible for holding Reverend Ron 
accountable, but hopefully there are church leaders who 
will take this situation seriously and not ignore it. Far 
too many people in the pews feel that it is not their place 
to hold someone accountable for his/her mistakes. The 
congregation will need someone trained in dealing with this 
kind of situation to help them heal as well. -
- REVEREND JOANNA

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ABBY: As a therapist, I have helped many people deal with 
this kind of emotional wreckage. The affair, which the 
pastor convinced this girl was OK because they were "truly 
in love," actually falls under the category "sexual abuse 
by one in a position of trust," and it is a crime. In some 
states, it may be considered statutory rape. 

After being told, the mother should contact the police and 
the district attorney. Reverend Ron is a sexual predator who
has taken advantage of a vulnerable young girl. He needs to 
be stopped and removed from any and all contact with young 
teens. 
-- THERAPIST IN LONGMONT, COLO.



ABBY: I have been married for six years and have recently 
fallen in love with another man. But I still love my 
husband. Is it possible for a person to be in love with two 
people at the same time? 
-- KIM FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE

KIM: It is possible to love more than one person because 
you love them for different reasons. However, when someone 
is IN love, he or she is usually completely focused on that 
one love object. So the answer to your question is no.






ABBY is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as 
Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline 
Phillips. Write ABBY at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box  
69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. 
____________________________________________________________

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