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Does the cover-up of sexual assault in the Church have roots in slavery?


The cover-up of sexual assault in the Church is not directly rooted in slavery, but it is essential to recognize that historical factors, including the legacy of slavery, have influenced societal attitudes and responses to sexual abuse. Slavery's legacy has had profound and lasting effects on various aspects of society, including power dynamics, race relations, and the perception of victim-hood.


During slavery, African Americans endured unimaginable atrocities, including sexual violence and abuse, perpetrated by slave-owners and overseers. This system of oppression and exploitation created a culture of fear and silence, where victims often had no recourse or means to seek justice for the atrocities committed against them. Survivors, particularly Black women, were often dismissed or disbelieved when they came forward with their stories. Enslaved individuals often had no legal protection and were denied agency over their own bodies, leading to a system of powerlessness and vulnerability. This historical context may have influenced the way sexual abuse was handled within some churches in later years.


In the post-slavery era, the Black Church emerged as a source of strength and empowerment for the African American community. However, even within this community, the legacy of historical trauma and oppression could have affected the response to sexual abuse cases. The lingering effects of this history continued to shape how society viewed and treated victims of sexual abuse. Deep-rooted beliefs, stereotypes, and biases influenced how cases of sexual assault were handled, particularly within marginalized communities.The fear of perpetuating negative stereotypes and the desire to maintain a united front against racism might have led some to avoid acknowledging internal issues, including sexual abuse.


The perception of victim-hood was also affected by historical prejudices, with some victims facing disbelief or victim-blaming, especially when the abuser held a position of power or authority. Additionally, power dynamics within the Church were influenced by societal norms established during the time of slavery. Hierarchical structures and a reverence for authority sometimes created environments where abuse could occur without accountability.


Furthermore, the Black Church faced systemic challenges in seeking justice and accountability for sexual abuse cases. Access to legal recourse was often limited, and trust in the larger legal system was undermined by historical discrimination and bias. Consequently, some church leaders might have felt compelled to handle abuse cases internally, seeking to protect their community from further harm and preserve unity.


It is essential to recognize that while historical factors like slavery have shaped attitudes and behaviors, the cover-up of sexual assault in the Church is a multifaceted issue influenced by various societal, cultural, and institutional factors. Today, there is a growing awareness of the need to address sexual abuse in all its forms, a commitment to breaking the cycle of silence and to foster environments of transparency, healing, and support within religious institutions, including the Black Church. By confronting this issue openly, society can work towards preventing future abuse and supporting survivors on their journey to healing and justice.


This article was written by LaTishia LaNier-Mckinnie, the author of the book "Generational Curses, No More!" and the host of "The Talk Storm," a talk show that airs on Thursday evenings at 6:30 PM Central and 7:30 PM Eastern on Facebook Live and YouTube Live at facebook.com/latishia.mckinnie75/. "The Talk Storm" explores various topics and is inspired by LaTishia's recently released book. LaTishia is a passionate advocate for change within the Black Church and is available to provide assistance to churches if needed. To get in touch with her for more information or to request support for your church, you can visit www.lmckenterprises/latishiaspeaks.com. To purchase "Generational Curses, No More!" and learn more about her book, please click the following link: https://amzn.to/46DSKR3 or Barnes and Noble https://bit.ly/3zaDOKo.



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