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Lewis, T. (2004). Sexual Abuse, Spiritual Formation, and Psychoanalysis. Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 5(1):57-80.

(2004). Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 5(1):57-80

Sexual Abuse, Spiritual Formation, and Psychoanalysis

Tom Lewis

Sexual abuse, from being an event in fearful silence, is now seen as a civil wrong or crime. Participants are stereotyped as perpetrators, victims, and enablers. These are the simplifications of an adversarial legal and insurance system. I suggest a more complex view. I was abused as a boy by the senior acolyte who was training me. The abuse taught me to lie and lose trust in adults and myself. For survival, I learned to invent provisional selves without understanding that these would become profound confusions of identity, sexuality, and purpose, lifelong sources of anxiety and depression. Through a recovery of my abandoned spiritual life and an intense psychoanalysis that together amounted to a metanoia, “a change of heart,” I was able to move past mere forgiveness to a reconciliation with myself and my history, and with my elderly father, who I saw as having failed to protect me years before.

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