It’s happening more than we would like to know. Dehumanization and Sexual Abuse. But how do we respond? An ebook with guidance from the Bible.
There are some topics we don’t like to talk about. Sexual Abuse is one of them. In your typical Sunday morning service, you will most likely never hear a sermon about how to help someone who has been traumatized by sexual abuse. I never had.
I didn’t even realize it was a huge struggle for millions of people until I started to work at the coal face of Mental Illness.
Dig a little into many people’s lives, and there you will find the stories of abuse. The numbers and the correlation is horrific.
In 2010 I was finishing my theological studies for my Bachelor of Applied Theology. The final paper was one where you were required to write an essay on a topic related to New Zealand society and how we as Christians were to approach it. It was to be an essay where you took all the learning you had made over the degree program into something applicable to the society you lived in.
I decided to write on the topic of Dehumanization and Sexual Abuse.
An ugly topic. Not nice, easy, pleasant, or comfortable. But it was the reality of many of the people I was supporting.
As I wrote and researched, I felt sick with what I heard. I think I was meant to. How can you listen well if you don’t dip your toes into the mess of others’ experiences?
But also I found some hope for my friends.
What is dehumanization?
This is a word that won’t come up in your daily conversation. Dehumanization is the act of stripping away of human characteristics or attributes, to be made inanimate, to be treated as an object.
It’s to say this person in front of me is not a human. They are an object. Because they are an object, I can do whatever I like to them.
It’s ugly and black. It’s the portrayal of someone as being a thing, an object, a source of our gratification.
When we dehumanize others, we dehumanize ourselves.
There is nothing more harmful to the core of a person’s existence than to be used as an object for others’ gratification.
To be treated as something less than fully human. To be dehumanized is to be deprived of human characteristics or attributes. To be made inanimate, to be treated as an object.
Dan Allender defines sexual abuse in this way.
Sexual abuse is any contact or interaction (visual, verbal, or psychological) between a child/ adolescent and an adult when the child/ adolescent is being used for the sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or any other person. Dan Allender The Wounded Heart.
Sexual abuse also happens to adults. Date rape, gang rape, even rape within marriage occurs all too frequently.
The most abusive, I believe, is against those with some form of impaired capacity, such as an intellectual disability.
Sexual abuse is evil.
How do we respond
In my essay, there are three parts.
- Looking at the trauma – what is dehumanization and sexual abuse
If you want to understand coal, then work at the coalface. We look at the blackness of the trauma.
- To looking through the Biblical – Theological (Christological) Lens
We dive into how the Bible talks about our humanity and sexual abuse.
- To Crossing the Road in Pastoral Response
There is hope. In this section, I take the reader to how one can respond to those dehumanized and where sexual abuse is part of their history.
- PDF format
- 11000 words
- 28 A4 pages
- Fully referenced and multiple quotes
- Pay What You Want (including free). Suggested donation of $10 US
Jesus loves the little children, but does He trouble our theology, our thinking about God and the world?
A ‘domesticated Jesus who sounds like us, makes us comfortable, and commends our opinions is no Jesus at all.’ Dale C. Allison