Victimization via Ritualization: Christian Communion and Sexual Abuse

  • Hilary Jerome ScarsellaEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges book series (PSLRSC)


This chapter considers the Christian practice of Communion as it relates to sexual violence, arguing based on lived experience of survivors that communion participation can exacerbate the systemic strength and traumatic harm of sexual violence among participants. It attends particularly to ways that negotiations of social power performed through the word and action of Communion can increase participants’ vulnerability to abuse and intensify associated traumas. After critically reviewing the problem, it considers an attempt made by a particular ecclesial body in North America to rethink and restructure the ritual such that it interrupts rather than perpetuates cycles of violence. Focus is placed on dynamics of the revised ritual that invite participants to constitute themselves not as victims, but as radical resistors of unjust harm.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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