Clare Crawley Reveals She Was Abused by ‘Predator’ Priest as a Child
Bachelorette Clare Crawley is speaking out for the first time about abuse she endured as a child.
The reality star shared her story with Gloria, Emily and Lili Estefan on an emotional episode of the Facebook Watch series “Red Table Talk: The Estefans.”
Crawley said, "I grew up going to a Catholic school, when I was a victim of a predator." When Gloria asked if it was a priest, she confirmed, “Yes.”
She explained, "I believe I was right around 5 or 6 years old, I was in first grade. And one of the biggest things in going to school for me was that I was just painfully shy. I wouldn't speak up, I would never raise my hand, to the point where if I had to use the bathroom I would pee my pants instead of ask to go to the restroom."
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Her parents thought counseling would help. Crawley went on, “My parents looked at Catholic priests — they held them on a pedestal. And 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, and I don't think there was any counseling that was done — it was one-on-one time to be a predator."
Clare said she “quickly” changed her behavior to avoid the counseling sessions.
"I remember quickly learning to love school and quickly shaping up and raising my hand and speaking up for myself, because I knew enough to know that I didn't want to sit alone in a confessional room with him anymore," the 40-year-old said. "And I never told my family, I never told my parents, because this was somebody you respected. They can do no wrong."
Years went by before she told anyone. "This was when you didn't hear about sexual abuse in the church. Nobody talked about it, so I never talked about it for years and years and years. And I think I was in fourth grade when I randomly just shared with one of my sisters and I don't even remember what was said, but right then she went to my mom and dad."
The family went into “panic” mode, and she said her relationship with her mom changed after that.
"My siblings and my sisters noticed that she did treat me differently, maybe intentional, unintentional, I don't know," she said. "There was just always something in between our relationship. She was a good mother to me. But there was always just something in-between."
She later learned her mother had also been abused. "Only a couple years ago, I finally sat down and asked her, 'Why was it so challenging? Why do we have such a rift?'" Crawley said. "And I don't know why I asked her this, but I just remember looking at her and saying, 'Who hurt you?' And she told me."
Gloria interjected, "She had been abused.”
Crawley nodded, saying, "And she had never shared that. And I didn't ask the details, but she just started crying and apologizing and said, 'I didn't know how to handle it.' And I think how she handled me was a reflection of how she was taught, mentally, to handle it."
Her mother is now suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia, and Clare said, “It's allowed me to step up and be the mother to her that she never really was able to be towards me, and love her unconditionally, and be there for her as much as I can.”