Unfortunately, institutions like churches have a shockingly wide number of sexual abuse cases, especially abuse toward minors.
But what about religious settings makes them prone to harboring abusers? Many of these organizations hold similarities, whether they are cults or the most mainstream of religions.
Sexual abuse under authoritative figures
The University of Alberta discusses a study diving into sexual abuse in certain religious settings. This looks into the shared traits that many of these churches have.
First, they tend to have doctrines of divine authority. The potential backing of a god or other deities makes people, especially the vulnerable, much less likely to fight back or object to sexual mistreatment.
Next, they have hierarchical power structures. This means that some people are at the bottom of the pyramid and some are at the top. Those at the bottom have little recourse when it comes to protecting themselves from those at the top and often end up trained not to fight back.
The power of trusted institutions and people
Third, they have institutional loyalty. Members of institutions often have high degrees of faith in the institution itself. Unfortunately, this makes them much less likely to believe the stories and accusations of abuse victims when they come forward.
Fourth, they have positions of trust. Inside these power structures exist relationships of individual trust. The trust that members hold in the higher ranks allows abusive people to groom and silence any victims, all while isolating them.
Together, these factors lead to numerous people experiencing abuse at the hands of those meant to protect them.