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  • Slavic Christians and Sexual Trauma

    Dear Slavic Christian churches, 

    According to 1 Corinthians chapter 5, unrepentant sexual predators are to be removed from among God’s people. We are not to turn a blind eye to their behavior and allow them to continue to sin and hurt the innocent. 

    The Bible says in that passage, “It is reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. So when you are assembled, and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.”

    The problem of sexual abuse is a silent, deadly one in my Slavic Christian community.

    Too many men and women live in the pain of the trauma that took place at the hands of their fathers, uncles, brothers, pastors, and/or deacons.

    Too many have been invalidated when they tried speaking up and were shamed into further isolation.

    If only we read our Bibles and realized how strict God is towards this sin and the consequence He gave us the authority to implement when this sin was discovered among us….if only…

    Until then, girls will continue to drink their memories away, men will run to sex from their wives (or other partners) to soothe the wound, moms will shame their daughters for what they wear and curse them for “asking for it,” dads will exhibit their unspoken trauma through abuse. Until we have the courage to speak up, perpetrators will walk free, and survivors will take their traumatic experiences to the grave.

    I speak boldly about this topic because the experiences listed below are the norm among the clients I serve and those who reach out to tell me their stories. They say, “Ilona, I’ve tried to tell my mom about the deacon who molested me, and she told me to be quiet and not tell anyone, or I’ll embarrass our family.” 

    One man said, “My pastor raped me in the church while I was in confession with him. I want nothing to do with God or church people. I’m scared they’ll hurt me again.”

    These stories are countless. Statistically, ¼ girls have experienced sexual trauma (and this number is greatly underestimated because of how many cases go unreported). We also don’t know the “real number” of males who have experienced sexual trauma because of societal pressure to hold it together and not tell anyone your problems because one will “look weak.”

    Dear church, we have a major problem on our hands. I’ve known survivors who attempted suicide after they were shamed for speaking up. I’ve known men who weren’t satisfied with one partner, so they sought love and validation in other avenues, including work and pornography, to numb their pain. It is possible to heal from this pain and move forward, but are we willing to do that for the members of our family and congregation by validating their experiences and stopping the trauma from becoming a stronghold for many?

    What are we willing to do to the perpetrators?

    Think about this today…