Former Bachelorette star Clare Crawley spoke out about being sexually abused by a Catholic priest as a child in an emotional new interview, revealing her healing process has not been “linear,” but she is making progress.
“I never talked about it for years and years,” the ABC alum, 40, said during an appearance on Red Table Talk: The Estefans, noting that she is finally ready to turn her “mess” into a “message” for other survivors of sexual abuse.
Crawley recalled going to a Catholic school during her youth, bravely sharing that she was “the victim of a predator” and felt compelled to stay silent for so long because of the shame and embarrassment she felt.
“My parents looked at Catholic priests as — they held them on a pedestal,” the hairstylist explained in the interview that aired on Thursday, September 30.
Crawley said she was in fourth grade when she randomly shared it with one of her sisters, who went to her parents with the information. “When my family found out, it was panic and it was flipping my mom’s world upside down,” she told hosts Gloria Estefan, Emily Estefan and Lili Estefan. “And, how she treated me growing up was a lot different.”
“There was just something always in between our relationship,” Crawley elaborated, revealing a couple of years ago her mother shared her own experience of past sexual abuse after keeping quiet about it herself.
Crawley said her family sued the church as a result of her own experience, so the congregation moved him to another location and “he did it to more children,” she continued. “These predators bank on us being silent.”
“That’s why after 39 years, instead of letting it affect me negatively, I thought how do I take the power back?” she went on. “This is not my burden to carry anymore.”
Crawley said the experience still impacted her relationships over the years, but she is learning to overcome those internal wounds and rise above her old way of thinking. “I had relationship after relationship after relationship with men that I chose that didn’t value me because I never felt good enough,” she shared.
Perhaps her greatest triumph was shifting her mindset from being a “victim” to a “survivor,” Crawley said.
During the interview, Crawley reflected on her journey of finding love with fiancé Dale Moss on season 16 of The Bachelorette and said that she had admiration for herself even before she found a strong connection on the dating show.
Moss, who came out in support of her Red Table Talk interview, said he wanted to be “understanding” and compassionate toward what Crawley had gone through while helping her to heal and grow. “I always wanted her to feel safe, secure and protected,” the former NFL player, 33, added.
The on-again, off-again couple have since called it quits for a second time, according to an Us Weekly report on September 28. “It was best for them to go their separate ways at this time,” an insider told the publication. “They will still support each other and have love for each other no matter what.”