Monday, August 26, 2013

The Abuser and The Abused

Hey people,
Kedu nu? I’ve been fine. Hope you have too. A lot has been on my plate in recent times and I wish I could share. But all in good time. Just say a lil prayer for me ok? Mwah. I will for you too.

So I’ve been following all the hot gist on the media waves. Lola Makinde Wedding story (Intriguing!). DesertSun’s Nigerian experience (Depressingly true), Ms. Kola who doesn’t want to come back to Nigeria (errr 160,000,000 – 1? Sai gobe) and Ese Walter’s tale of pastoral sexual abuse. Sigh

I’ll just take some time to throw some light on this notion of abused/victim and Abuser which it seems many objected to in her narrative.

Sexual exploitation is any form of sexual contact or invitation to sexual contact, with an adult by a professional person, cleric or anyone in a position of authority, trust or power over that adult whether or not there is consent from the individual . . . Meaningful consent for sexual activity is not possible in a fiduciary relationship.

Can clergy sexual activity ever be consensual on the part of the victim?  No!  The power differential in the relationship automatically puts the priest/reverend/deacon in the position of power. Therefore, there can never exist a true mutually consensual agreement.

Clergy misconduct of a sexual nature (clergy sexual misconduct) is about power - power which is abused through sexualized behavior. It is always the PASTOR'S responsibility to ensure that appropriate boundaries are experienced in the pastor-congregant relationship.

Clergy misconduct is a grave injustice toward another person and an entire religious community. It is a power issue. A sacred trust is violated.

*Fiduciary duty refers to the responsibility of licensed caregivers (doctors, therapists, lawyers, social workers, etc.) to "do no harm."  Society's expectation of these caregivers is that they will attend to the needs of those in their care.
Ministers, pastors, priests and rabbis are often the first choice for those seeking emotional as well as spiritual assistance.  Their role as counselors gives them fundamentally the same responsibility to those in their care as therapists have to their current or former clients.

And this is why Clergy business has become Court business.

Not all countries have laws to deal with Sexual misconduct among the clergy but it is important to note that in places where such a law exists, example Arkansas in the United States, consensuality is not a defense.
           5-14-126. Sexual assault in the third degree.
(a) A person commits sexual assault in the third degree if the person [is]:
(B) A professional under Ark. Code Ann. 12-12-507(b) or a member of the clergy and is in a position of trust or authority over the victim and uses the position of trust or authority to engage in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual activity…
(2) (b) It is no defense to a prosecution under this section that the victim consented to the conduct.

Ms. Walter detailed the events that led up to the sexual encounter in London. Becoming a new Church member. Joining the hierarchy of workers. Receiving special attention from the Pastor. Moving to London. Mail exchanges. How many of us would not have done with she did for the Bishop?
Booking him a cab.
Making a hotel booking.
Wouldn’t you feel honored that he has entrusted you to such…knowing you can’t be the only church member in London?
How many would have thought it untoward to meet up with this respected Pastor.
When you meet him and he holds on to that handshake for seconds longer than necessary, or maybe embraces you or touches your arms, many of you would automatically think…hmmm something fishy here.
Yet, think the way you would have reacted if this were your co-worker, your classmate – your equal. You would have immediately recognized the breach of boundaries.
But with an older person, a boss, an old family friend, a clergy you keep pushing back those reactions because..haba he is a pastor. He is respected. He is a Man of God. You might even ask God to forgive you for daring to think your holy pastor was capable of this.
Now the pastor on his part, remember did not send for you by chance. He has it all planned out. He has been grooming you in his mind. He has an idea of how strong/streetwise etc you are. After all you had passed the initial tests by doing all the above service for him. So he knows you have a healthy respect/fear for him/his office.
He thus continues to test how far he can go. “Come sit on my laps” he asks. You sit (still wondering why).
He lightly strokes the breast. You squirm and hope that was a mistake. He does it again. You squirm again. He puts his hand on your laps.

Na so handshake dey pass elbow. Before you know it, you and your pastor are playing the “No bishop”, “Yes my dear” game.

Now we wonder “Why didn’t Ese storm out of the room?”.
Well, same way you have women who stay in battered relationships for years. And you have those that jump ship at the first raising of hands.
Blame it on women's socialization to be polite, nonconfrontational and accepting of men's behavior, Blame it on culture, Blame it on self esteem lack, blame it on lack of awareness.
That is why some manage to escape like Franca and some become victims like Ese. And they shouldn’t be judged any less for it. That is why laws are made, to protect those who can’t/couldn’t protect themselves.
I applaud Ese’s bravery in telling her story knowing the stigma and ridicule that will come with it. She might not get her day in court because I doubt that Nigeria has evolved to enact such laws (who will bell the cat?!).
But I don’t think that’s even what she is asking for.

All she asks is that he steps down from his earthly church throne albeit temporarily, make restitution to those he has hurt and GET HEALED HIMSELF before he continues his pastoral work.


Lastly, I saw this comment online and I quote “The time has come for each of us who sincerely follow the teachings of Christ to speak out concerning the proper loving actions we should have toward our brothers and sisters and against what can only be described as bad religion”.

What do you think?
p.s. Check out these interesting articles on Pastoral Sexual Abuse - Soul Stealing
Also 11 Reasons why Pastors should never date their parishioners



  1. Great post Ginger, and I enjoyed reading the posts at those links. The unfortunate thing is that this pastor is like the GO of his church, who will bell the cat indeed.

    1. Thank you Myne. The soul Stealing post especially. Even the writer of the 11 reasons post is a male seeking justice/acknowledgement from a female Reverend. You can imagine how difficult his case has been.

  2. Well, they had better start belling the cat or it could be their daughters or sisters next.

    Well done, Ginger. Well said!

    - Adura (Naijalines)

    1. Indeed it could be daughters or sisters. Whats that quote about when good people keep silent over evil....

      I have had a fair number of encounters with older men - lecturer/Uncles to appreciate that power dynamic so i just had to write.

      Thank you Adura. Ekaabo :)

  3. Man, they wanted to make the girl go crazy. She tried and tried to heal, no way Nobody was helping. Nobody cared. Biko allow her to talk. She couldn't pray, couldn't talk to God and the man with his 'special level of grace' could.

    Great post.

    1. She couldn't pray, couldn't talk to God and the man with his 'special level of grace' could.

      I can't even imagine how that must feel. To be broken and yet you see the cause of your pain walking about without a care. I'm sure if he had at least made a personal apology, asked for forgiveness, she would never have taken the steps she did.

      May God grant them both peace.

  4. Thank you!! Thank you very much, Ginger!!!!!

  5. Thanks so much for linking to my piece. Your work is great.

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