Sexual Violence in History: A Bibliography

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First published: October 1, 2023 - Last updated: October 1, 2023


Speakers: Christopher Jones and Alexiana Fry

Title: Texts of Terror?

Subtitle: Exploring Religious Trauma(s) with Tools in the Classroom

Conference: Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (November 18-21, 2023) - Online Program

Session: S20-211: Biblical Literature and the Hermeneutics of Trauma. Theme: Traps and Triggers: A Trauma-Informed Biblical Studies Classroom and Open Session

Place: San Antonio, Texas, United States

Date: November 20, 2023

Language: English

Keywords: Ancient History: Israelite History | Types: Rape; Research: Education / Teaching History; Representations: Religious Texts / Biblical Texts


Link: -


Abstract: »Religious trauma is a growing area of interest in the field of trauma studies. We know that, statistically speaking, it is certain that most classes include survivors of various kinds of trauma, including sexual violence, warfare, domestic abuse, and self-harm. Megan Goodwin writes that "religion does not cause abuse ... but ... religious belonging can make abusive situations and relationships harder to escape... harder to recognize (as) abuse." A growing number of scholars, however, do recognize religion as a potential source of trauma. In this presentation, we will weave together emergent research on religious trauma (e.g., Marlene Winell, Katie Cross, Michelle Panchuk) and institutional betrayal (e.g., Jennifer Freyd, Carly Smith, Jennifer Gómez). We will argue that biblical studies teachers must be prepared to take religious trauma seriously, and we will provide a framework for how they can do so. Any biblical studies class may have students who have experienced abuse in a religious setting or from a religious authority figure. As Goodwin notes, the religious dimension of the abuse can exacerbate the harm. Our classes may also have students for whom religious teachings about hell, judgment, Rapture, and/or sexual purity are traumatizing in and of themselves. For all of these students, our classrooms may be experienced as extensions of the same religious settings in which students experienced harm in the first place, and that in turn opens up the possibility that our classes will become sites of institutional betrayal. How do we avoid this effect? First, we consider the possibility that any text could be a text of terror for any student. We make sure that students always retain agency over how they interpret texts and over what they disclose about themselves in the process. We employ trauma-informed somatic tools to create opportunities for self-care that don't "out" survivors. Finally, we argue not that "texts of terror" should be avoided, but that our approach to them should be fully trauma informed: we center survivors, we refute myths about rape and abuse, and we avoid any implication that the text's authority is sacrosanct or that its interpretation is clear. In so doing, we reimagine the biblical studies classroom as a survivor-centered "contested space" (ala Jeannie Ludlow).« (Source: Online Program)

Wikipedia: Ancient history: History of ancient Israel and Judah | Bible | Sex and the law: Rape / History of rape