For victims of sexual abuse at the hands of priests and other clergy, recognizing that they are not alone in their experience can be essential to their recovery.
We believe that charting a history of crimes of abuse gives survivors a visual tool to aid in their recovery.
We also recognize that many survivors of sexual abuse by people in positions of power are unaware that incidents of sexual abuse by priests and clergy are both historically and geographically widespread in Canada. In an effort to support survivors with accurate information, we produced the Map of Incidents of Sexual Abuse by Priests and Clergy in Canada, 1962-Present.
How To Use the Map
Mapping instances of abuse reveals that this type of sexual abuse is not limited to one geographical location, or time period.
- Filter By Date by choosing different date filters in the legend.
- Zoom in or out by clicking on the colored clusters, or using the + or – buttons, your mouse scrolling pad, or two fingers (on mobile)
- Find More Information by clicking on each dot to reveal a popup with case reveals data including diocese of conviction, name of accused, province, city, year charges were laid, and year of conviction (if applicable).
- Unknown Locations: Some incidents of abuse occurred in unknown or unrecorded locations. These instances are accounted for in a bar graph by province at the bottom of the page.
Crimes Against the Most Vulnerable
Incidents of sexual abuse at the hands of people in positions of power, such as priests and clergy, are unfortunately too common in Canada. It’s likely that many individuals who’ve been victimized have never spoken of their abuse. For this reason, it’s more important than ever to acknowledge the widespread nature of sexual abuse in Canadian communities.
The publicly available data indicates that victims, in all contexts, were more often than not children or youth at the time of the offense. This makes even more heinous, but also more difficult to prosecute since children are afraid to testify against their abusers.
Furthermore, the imbalance of power in sexual abuse cases involving priests and clergy means that in all likelihood, the map represents a fraction of actual incidents of sexual abuse. Reporting abuse by someone in a position of power is often a terrifying, and paralyzing notion. Still, many survivors have found some relief in seeking civil compensation for their abuse.
Religious Leaders in Denial
Church leadership, including the Vatican, has historically attempted to suppress or diminish the problem of sexual abuse by religious leaders. In fact, the Vatican in particular was found to have implemented policies that systematically facilitated abuse by priests. Still, victims continue to come forward and courageously seek redress for their experiences.
Sadly, the criminal justice system may not provide options for abuse survivors. If an abuser has died, the criminal courts have no jurisdiction. A civil remedy is often the final chance for victims to have their experiences validated and compensated.
For all of these reasons, we believe that Breaking the Silence and informing survivors about incidents of sexual abuse by priests is an important way to empower former victims.
Support and Compensation for Victims
Reporting such crimes is laden with emotional implications for survivors. Survivors, male and female, will benefit from this tool, as it provides an overview of incidents across past decades, and reveals a pattern of sexual abuse by individuals in positions of power.
If you’ve experienced sexual abuse, and are ready to find a supportive effective response to the aftermath, call us toll free at (877) 423-2050 or contact us online