Sexual Abuse of Women

"Violence against women, inside or outside the home, is never justified. Violence in any form-physical, sexual, psychological, or verbal is sinful; often, it is a crime as well."  

– USCCB, When I call for Help: A Pastoral Response to Domestic Violence Against Women

Sexual Harassment or Abuse is a Sin Against the Dignity of the Human Person

One of the consequences of original sin is a breakdown in the relationship between man and woman. Man and woman are equal in dignity and called to communion. Each person is willed for his or her own sake and is to be loved, not used. But sin has brought in a tendency toward domination. "In this tragic situation, the equality, respect, and love that are required in the relationship of man and woman according to God's original plan, are lost" (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Modern World, no. 7). See Mulieris Dignitatem, no. 10 for a fuller exploration of this theme.

As the Catechism says, "Man and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God: on the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in their respective beings as man and woman… [each] possess an inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God their Creator" (CCC, no 369).

In addition, "Respect for the human person considers the other 'another self.' It presupposes respect for the fundamental rights that flow from the dignity intrinsic of the person" (CCC, no. 1964).

A just society is one in which every human person is respected and not subject to harassment or unjust discrimination: "A just society can become a reality only when it is based on the respect of the transcendent dignity of the human person. The person represents the ultimate end of society, by which it is ordered to the person" (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 132).

Amoris Laetita and Violence

Pope Francis has made it clear in Amoris Laetitia that violence is never an authentic display of masculinity:

"Unacceptable customs still need to be eliminated. I think particularly of the shameful ill-treatment to which women are sometimes subjected, domestic violence and various forms of enslavement which, rather than a show of masculine power, are craven acts of cowardice. The verbal, physical, and sexual violence that women endure in some marriages contradicts the very nature of the conjugal union" (Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia, no. 54).

"The body of the other is often viewed as an object to be used as long as it offers satisfaction, and rejected once it is no longer appealing. Can we really ignore or overlook the continuing forms of domination, arrogance, abuse, sexual perversion and violence that are the product of a warped understanding of sexuality?" (Amoris Laetitia, no. 153).

The Church is called to respond with love and help for healing:

"Good pastoral training is important 'especially in light of particular emergency situations arising from cases of domestic violence and sexual abuse' (Amoris Laetitia, no. 204). 

Other Resources

Please see the USCCB page on Domestic Violence for information directly related to that topic. 

Further related information and resources are available at Catholics For Family Peace and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.