NY--Victims applaud Monica Lewinsky speaking up
For immediate release: Thursday, March 19
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, 314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com
Monica Lewinsky is increasingly discussing the shaming of victims of sexual exploitation, according to a new, long story in the New York Times. We’re grateful to her for her courage.
Ms. Lewinsky was treated horribly years ago when then-President Bill Clinton’s sexual exploitation of her, a 22 year old, first surfaced. We’re glad some pundits and celebrities apparently feel guilty about how they treated Ms. Lewinsky. They should. And others should too.
It’s always hurtful when officials exploit their power and prestige to sexually exploit vulnerable underlings. Not every non-violent sexual experience between two adults is consensual. These days, we hope that few would claim that a 22 year old could truly be said to “consent” to sex with a US president.
It is inherently problematic when the very powerful have sexual contact with the very powerless. There can be no true "consent" when there’s such a power difference between individuals like there was between Ms. Lewinsky and President Clinton.
Our society has long understood that it's virtually always harmful and unethical when a doctor has sex with a patient or a psychologist has any with a client. Gradually, more people are finally understanding that the same holds true of a cleric and his or her congregant. And it’s certainly true in this situation.
We hope Ms. Lewinsky’s speeches and writings will help others who were hurt by what may have initially seemed like “affairs” but were in fact exploitation. These kinds of cases aren’t “relationships.” They are exploitation. And they aren’t “consensual.” They’re manipulative.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)