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:
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 counseling, when a counselee/congregant transfers onto the counselor/pastor feelings that were previously directed to another object/person. By working through this transference of feelings, the counselee/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.
The Bible tells us that except within the context of marriage, ALL sexual relationships are wrong.