Rape victims at Bob Jones University must seek out and repent of the sin that caused their rapes, according to Al Jazeera America’s investigative report. A 19-year old woman, whose supervisor raped her several times, sought help from the dean of the school two years later. The victim, Katie Landry, said that the dean told her:
“Well, there’s always sin under other sin. There’s a root sin. We have to find the sin in your life that caused your rape.”
She told Al Jazeera America that she just ran after that, dropped out of school, and didn’t tell anyone else for five years. She’s not the only student to receive such cruel treatment, either. Other students told Al Jazeera America that they were given similarly damaging advice. These students talked about victim blaming, and a culture that’s very heavily focused on purity and reputation. That culture doesn’t help rape victims; it makes them feel even worse than they already did.
Bob Jones, located in Greenville, S.C., started looking into how they’ve failed rape victims on their campus last year. They could, and should, start with not blaming the victims. Bob Jones is a Christian university, and if they’re trying to teach about God’s love, then telling a rape victim that some sin in her life caused her rape is not going to bring her closer to God. Nor is it going to help her work through the trauma; it’s going to make her feel even worse, even more ashamed, even more afraid, and force her to carry a deep, dark secret she shouldn’t have to carry. In fact, these students reported that hearing that their sins caused their rapes, and being told that healing could only come from forgiving their rapists, were the most damaging things they heard. Christian universities that do this are contributing to rape culture in one of the worst ways there is.
Even worse, the school follows a teaching that says most mental problems are the result of sin, not just the trauma that comes from getting raped. The book that they teach counseling from, called Becoming an Effective Christian Counselor, actually says, “Most people in mental hospitals are not sick; they are sinful.”
This is probably one of the most backwards ideas imaginable, and doesn’t teach anybody how to help anyone suffering from anything at all, like depression, bi-polar disorder, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, or anything else. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if they still held to the ridiculous notion that schizophrenics were demon-possessed individuals. That, of course, doesn’t help the schizophrenic any more than blaming a rape victim for her rape helps her.
While that book is supposed to stress that the blame for the attack lies with the attacker, and not with the victim, it also says that feelings of anger, bitterness, and fear are sins too, because they’re a type of “rebellion against God.” Repent of that, and the victim will be fine.
Har de har har.
Another student, known only as Julia, said that abusers can repent of their sins and move on, while victims are left to struggle through the trauma of their rapes. They, too, are supposed to forgive their attackers, repent of their sins of anger, fear, and bitterness, and just move on as though it didn’t happen. When they can’t, it’s their fault.
So how did Bob Jones University fail rape victims? By sticking to this ridiculous teaching and treating the victims as though they were the problem. Apparently, this isn’t uncommon in the Protestant world. The idea that sin causes rape, and that the trauma resulting from rape is also a sin, is common teaching, and rape victims, who should receive good, proper, helpful support and counseling from clergy and school administrators are instead hurt even worse.
h/t Al Jazeera America.
More from AATTP on vile college campus rape culture.
- University Lecturer: ‘Female Students Shouldn’t Play the Victim Card’ to Support Women Raped on Campus
- George Will: Being a Rape Victim is a ‘Coveted Status on College Campuses’ (Video)
- Student at USC: Campus Police Said I Wasn’t Raped Because Assailant Didn’t Climax
- Misogynist George Will DUMPED from Major Newspaper for Vile College Rape-as-Status-Symbol Column