In one of the rawest Red Table Talk: The Estefans episodes ever, Bachelorette Clare Crawley shared her horrific tale of surviving sexual abuse at the hands of her Catholic priest when she was a child. The man her family held on “a pedestal” was her predator — and the years that followed brought secrecy and shame to her.
The abuse began while she was in the first grade at her parochial school. The priest had individual access to Crawley because she was sent to him for counseling to overcome her shyness. What was supposed to be therapeutic sessions turned into a nightmare for her as a young girl. “The Catholic school treated him as a counselor. My parents did the best they could and reached out for the resources they could at the time, and sent me to this priest,” she explained on Red Table Talk. “And I don’t think there was any counseling that was done. It was a one-on-one time to be a predator.”
As with many abuse victims, she didn’t tell her parents because she didn’t think they would believe her. “This was somebody you respected, they can do no wrong,” she said. “This was when you didn’t hear about sexual abuse in the church, nobody talked about it.” That allowed Crawley to think it was her fault and the dark secret she kept until the fourth grade festered. “These predators bank on us not saying anything and not opening our mouth,” she told Estefan. “And that gives them that power.”
Even though her parents sued the church, her predator was moved from parish to parish and left a trail of devastation in his wake — an all-too-familiar tale in the scandal. But Crawley made a huge decision this year and bravely decided this wasn’t her “burden to carry anymore,” and she chose to become “a survivor.” She started with a courageous Instagram post that explained why she was getting her breast implants out and how “self love is the act of giving a voice to your truth.” Crawley finally threw out “the weight that [she] was carrying” because it brought upon feelings of “unworthiness, embarrassment” and the brutal truth “of the church [not] standing up” for her. She, instead, decided to stand up for herself, sharing, “I shifted my mindset of like ‘I am not a victim, but I’m a survivor’…”
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, know that you are not alone. Call 800-656-HOPE or Visit rainn.org for free, confidential, 24/7 support.
Before you go, click here to see celebrities who have opened up about surviving sexual assault.