the Hope of Survivors


Let’s start with some basic descriptions of various forms of abuse and the damage that victims suffer as a result.

Abuse—by definition, abuse means “to use ill; to maltreat; to misuse; to use with bad motives or wrong purposes; to violate; to defile by improper sexual intercourse; to deceive; to impose on; to treat rudely or with reproachful language; to revile; to pervert the meaning of; to misapply.” It also means seduction. (See American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828.)

Trauma—There are two types of trauma:

1) Invasion=Something happened TO you (abuse, etc.)
2) Emotional=Something did NOT happen (love, care, nurture, protection)

Sexual Abuse—When an older person (or a person in a position of power such as a therapist, teacher, pastor, coach, etc.) sexually exploits a child (or patient, counselee, student, vulnerable person, etc.) in order to satisfy the abuser’s needs. Sexual abuse includes any sexual activity—verbal, visual or physical, i.e., lewd remarks, pornography, fondling, sexual contact, etc. It is illegal.

Incest—sexual intercourse between persons who are closely related.

Molest—to annoy, disturb, or persecute especially with hostile intent or injurious effect OR to make annoying sexual advances to; especially: to force physical and usually sexual contact on.

Rape—sexual intercourse without the consent of the woman/man and chiefly by force or deception.

Date Rape—rape committed by someone known to the victim.

Gang Rape—rape of one person by several attackers simultaneously or in succession.

Verbal Abuse—Is sinful, hurtful, degrading and inappropriate in marriage —ALL relationships for that matter. (“You’re so stupid!” “Why can’t you ever do anything right?” “What do you mean you got a “B” on your report card?” “Why didn’t you do better?” etc.)

Transference—the displacement of one’s unresolved conflicts, dependencies, and aggressions onto a substitute object/person. This can occur during counselling, when a counsellee/congregant transfers onto the counsellor/pastor feelings that were previously directed to another object/person. By working through this transference of feelings, the counsellee/congregant can come to grips with the actual cause of his or her feelings.

It is even interesting to note that many church manuals have policies against clergy sexual misconduct. The following excerpt is from the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women—The United Methodist Church’s web site.

Sexual Misconduct is defined as “behaviour of a sexualised nature that betrays sacred trust, violates the ministerial role, and exploits those who are vulnerable in that relationship.”

Sexual abuse occurs when a person within a ministerial role of leadership (lay or clergy, pastor, educator, counsellor, youth leader, or other position of leadership), “engages in sexual contact or sexualised behaviour with a congregant, client, employee, student, staff member, co-worker, or volunteer.” (2004 Book of Resolutions, p. 150-51)

Sexualised behaviour is that “which communicates sexual interest and/or content. Examples include, but are not limited to displaying sexually suggestive visual materials; making sexual comments or innuendo about one’s own or another person’s body; touching another person’s body; hair; or clothing; touching or rubbing oneself in the presence of another person; kissing; and sexual intercourse.” (2004 Book of Resolutions, p. 151)

Sexual harassment is defined as “a continuum of behaviours that intimidate, demean, humiliate, or coerce. These behaviours range from the subtle forms that can accumulate into a hostile working, learning, or worshipping environment to the most severe forms of stalking, assault, or rape.” (2004 Book of Resolutions, p. 151)

The Bible tells us that except within the context of marriage, ALL sexual relationships are wrong.

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart...Psalms 34:18