Specialists on issues of sexual abuse in religious institutions unanimously stress that this kind of experience significantly affects the victims’ spirituality. Particularly devastating and distorting for their spirituality is sexual abuse committed by clergy. In order to explore this issue for the first time in Poland, the authors conducted a qualitative study in the form of semi-structured interviews with five women who had experienced sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and/or religious in adolescence and young adulthood. The interviews were analyzed using the interpretative phenomenological analysis and narrative methodology. The results showed that four respondents experienced or had experienced religious struggles in three areas: interpersonal, intrapsychic, and relationship with God. These struggles are complex and intense enough to be referred to as “spiritual trauma”, “religious trauma”, or “spiritual violence”. The results of the study may be of importance for people helping or having any other kind of contact with victims of clergy sexual abuse.
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DOI 10.1177/00846724211060391
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