Students at Bob Jones University have said that they often feel traumatized after a session of counseling by school administrators on the issue of sexual assault. According to an investigative report by Al Jazeera, staff at Bob Jones University had asked victims of sexual assault to repent for their sins.
Katie Landry was raped by a colleague many times at her former workplace before she left to pursue a degree at Bob Jones University and she hadn’t spoken to anyone about the assaults until she started to fail her exams at college and was compelled to seek counseling thereafter. Reportedly, the dean told her, “We have to find the sin in your life that caused your rape.”
“He confirmed my worst nightmare — it was something I had done, it was something about me, it was my fault… I think they should have not heaped more shame on me. Because I was already filled to the brim with shame. I didn’t need any more,” said Landry while elaborating how her dean asked her if she had done anything “impure” like smoking pot.
Other students who chose to speak to Al Jazeera had similar stories to share. Apparently, the counselor asked one student to beg her rapist for forgiveness.
“I would say that the impact of the two years of counseling I had with her is that I felt like I had been raped all over again,” said the student.
This is not the first time that Bob Jones University, known as the most fundamentalist Christian institution in America, which by the way teaches students a literal interpretation of the Bible and expels students for indulging in premarital sex, has been exposed for manhandling complains of sexual abuse. What is worse is there are several other equally fundamentalist Christian colleges in America and they are not even required to abide by federal laws, as they do not receive any funding from the government.
Conservative dealing of sexuality can lead to situations where survivors of sexual abuse begin to blame themselves. In 2013, Elizabeth Smart, a rape victim, who was born and brought up in the Mormon community pointed out that overemphasis on chastity eventually makes a rape victim feel worthless. Smart said she was made to feel “dirty and filthy” for being sexually assaulted but that is not how rape victims should be treated. She now works with survivors of rape to make them feel supported rather than shamed.
Photo Credit: Anton Bielousov