How Sexual Abuse Is Spiritual Abuse

Few people realize it, but spirituality and sexuality are the two most sacred aspects of yourself. When you share with someone either of these, you are sharing on the deepest and most intimate level. Because they are connected to each other, when someone experiences sexual abuse, s/he also experiences spiritual violence.

Types of Sexual Abuse

There are six basic types of physical sexual abuse:

  • Incest or molestation by a family member or loved one
  • Incest or molestation by a stranger
  • Rape by a stranger
  • Rape by someone you know (date rape) or a loved one (marital rape)
  • Sexual abuse by a spiritual authority or leader
  • Sexual abuse by a secular authority figure such as a therapist, police officer or other authority

There is also the victimization difficult for the victim to identify other than s/he feels “slimed.” Instances of this are found in:

  • Being subjected to pornography at a young age
  • A parent or caregiver refusing to give privacy to their child while bathing or dressing
  • Being subjected to pornography without choice
  • Comments or jokes that are explicitly sexual and demeaning
  • Comments or jokes with a double message that are sexual and demeaning
  • Inappropriate hugging or touching (without genital contact which is physical sexual abuse)
  • Unwanted lustful looks or actions

When Sexual Abuse is Spiritual Abuse

I’m going to make a general statement here. All such exploitation of a child, be it physical or otherwise, is spiritual violence. These actions can result in:

  • A feeling of shame, that something is damaged or evil about them
  • Mistrust of people in general
  • Anger and mistrust of God or Spirit for not protecting them
  • Feeling unsafe in their environment no matter where they are

Then, of course, there is the perpetrator who is a spiritual or religious authority figure. These actions, no matter what the age of the victim, result in deep spiritual wounds. An individual representing a Being who is supposed to be pure love, violates trust in the most primal manner. The one victimized begins to doubt the love of God. Does God also violate one’s trust? Does God really care?

An aspect of spirituality is trust in the inner knowing that is connected to the Divine. If trust in the Divine is broken, then the individual doubts his or her own inner knowing. The victimized individual has difficulty finding personal inner direction and power. S/he is usually hyper-alert always afraid of being hurt again in such a profound manner. Unfortunately, the fear itself sends forth a signal that flashes “victim” and exploitation can be attracted again.

Source by Cathy Chapman, Ph.D.