a podcast at the intersection of Christianity & mental health.


54 - Sexual Abuse by Faith Leaders (feat. Dr. David Pooler)

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Trigger warning: sexual abuse.

In this important episode, we talk with Dr. David Pooler, who has done extensive research talking with survivors of sexual abuse perpetrated by faith leaders. Dr. Pooler talks us through the survivors’ experiences within their churches (largely bad), as well as those survivors’ suggestions for preventing abuse, being prepared to respond, helping the victims find healing, and helping the congregation find healing.

Things we mention in this episode/other resources
- Last week’s CXMH episode 53 - Catching Your Breath (feat. Steve Austin)
- Darkness to Light training
- The Hope of Survivors
- FaithTrust Institute
- Keeping Our Sacred Trust
- CXMH episode 32 - Trauma, Attachment, & Creating Safety (feat. Aundi Kolber)
- The Suicide Prevention training Robert mentions in Atlanta on November 14th
- RAINN, an organization against sexual violence
- RAINN’s hotline is 800-656-HOPE(4673)
- ‘67 Resources for Sexual Assault Survivors Who Aren’t Sure Where To Turn

Connect with Dr. David Pooler on Facebook and Twitter. Find Dr. Pooler’s research here, including a Best Practice Guide for churches to prevent & respond to sexual abuse.

- “Image management is a part of the problem of why churches don’t respond very well.” (tweet)
- “If you really want to get at solutions, ask the people affected.” (tweet)
- “Clergy sexual abuse can happen anywhere, with any congregation. No church is immune. Your church is not the exception.” (tweet)
- “Call it what it is. This is clergy sexual abuse. Someone needs to call it, name it, and define it for that congregation.” (tweet)
- “I think churches need to have a victim advocate.” (tweet)
- “I don’t think we’re taking [sexual abuse by church leaders] seriously enough.” (tweet)
- “People don’t make [sexual abuse by faith leaders] up.” (tweet)
- “Sometimes being Christian, doing the right thing, and doing justice is in direct opposition to legal advice.” (tweet)

Connect with Robert on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Connect with Holly on her website or Twitter.

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Intro/Outro music for this episode is ‘Fall Down’ by Rivers & Robots.