Resource, Video

Check out these powerful video resources related to abuse by clergy or ministry leaders. 

October 23, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

In July, a news story hit the web about four male students who developed a fingernail polish that indicates the presence of date rape drugs by changing color after being dipped in the drink. While many applauded this invention, some saw negative implications.

October 21, 2014 1 0 comments
Blog

The church, as a living, breathing organism, can be left in ashes and its membership spiritually wounded, if a report of sexual abuse is not handled properly.

October 13, 2014 2 2 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet

Designed for small groups, but also valuable for personal use, this 10-session guide uses Bible study, reflection, writing, prayer, and art to engage people in active participation with God on a journey of restoration and healing.

October 10, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar is designed to help us understand the problem of domestic violence, so that we can recognize it and respond in practical and effective ways.

October 1, 2014 0 2 comments
Blog

While questions remain about the NFL’s handling of domestic violence among players, further questions arise regarding how our culture, our church, views domestic abuse.

September 30, 2014 1 1 comments
Resource, Article

Find resources from Safe Church Ministry related to pornography awareness. 

September 23, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Website

These websites offer excellent resources related to abuse by clergy or ministry leaders. 

September 23, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

Abuse concerns us all and needs to be addressed by us all.

September 22, 2014 2 2 comments
Blog

I was sexually assaulted by a professor from my Christian undergraduate university. After reporting it to the university, I sought out my church family and other Christian friends for guidance and comfort. What I often received, though, were pointed questions and veiled accusations...

September 14, 2014 1 7 comments
Blog

Respect is the hallmark of healthy relationships in the home and in community. Expect respect to ensure personal safety and safe churches, homes and communities.

September 3, 2014 1 1 comments
Blog

Becoming a proactive community that prevents abuse is part of being disciples of Christ!

August 27, 2014 2 0 comments
Resource, Litany

The following resources from The Worship Sourcebook would work well for an abuse awareness service.  

August 15, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

We welcomed people as they arrived, while being hopeful that people would take time on a summer evening to come to an inspiring program. The featured speaker was nationally known Christian author, speaker, and licensed family and marriage counselor...

August 11, 2014 1 1 comments
Blog

Website changes, your chance to vote, and events happening this fall.

August 6, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

In the last year or so, I have observed a disturbing trend: the introduction and acceptance of a mindset into our culture.

July 30, 2014 1 3 comments
Resource, Article

Are there warning signs in a relationship?

July 8, 2014 1 0 comments
Resource, Article

Recommended steps for child safety this summer.

July 8, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

The Circle of Grace curriculum teaches children and youth how to identify and maintain appropriate physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual boundaries; recognize when boundary violations are about to occur; and demonstrate how to take action when boundaries are threatened or violated.

June 30, 2014 0 1 comments
Blog

If you think that sex trafficking doesn’t happen where you live, think again.

June 24, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

In a recent blog with Rhymes with Religion, Boz Tchividjian asserts the need for seminaries to provide formal training for church leaders in preventing and responding to child abuse.

June 13, 2014 1 0 comments
Blog

Through any transition, Safe Church Ministry, in one form or another, will survive and grow. Why? Because churches need to know how to protect the children and vulnerable people entrusted to their care.

June 11, 2014 1 2 comments
Blog

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “boys will be boys”? What does it mean in our culture to be masculine?

June 2, 2014 1 4 comments
Resource, Procedure

The Advisory Panel Process has been put in place to support Christian Reformed congregations in responding to church leader misconduct.

June 2, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

Each ministry leader had 2 minutes to say something about the ministry he or she was involved in; who knows where this relationship could go? Here’s my Safe Church “speed dating” pitch...

May 22, 2014 2 1 comments

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Brilliant response, Angela!  You are right, it is good to acknowledge areas in which our churches still need growth.

posted in: Is Someone Missing?

Thank YOU Angela, for your supportive words and also for the good work you do to make churches safer for everyone, including those who have experienced abuse.

posted in: Is Someone Missing?

Thank you for bringing this topic to the forefront of our discussions. I have felt from the very beginning of my safe church involvement that the church of Christ is called to minister to victims of abuse. We know the source of all healing, Jesus Christ. How can we not reach out to those who are so terribly hurt and bruised. We aren't there yet. At least we've gone beyond children's ministries to including vulnerable adults. We're a long way from truly being a safe church where disclosure of any kind of sin is accepted and safe to do.

posted in: Is Someone Missing?

Great comment, Rev. Shannon!  So glad to hear that some of the CRC ministries are already addressing this issue.

posted in: My Daughter!

This is a very timely piece, Robin. Thank you for sharing it. Some of us who are involved in the CRC's Discipleship & Faith Formation Ministries have been talking about the possibility of creating a workshop and maybe some tools for Christian parents. I think this story demonstrates how many Christian parents feel--ill-equipped to discipline their children as they grow. As congregations, I think we could be doing so much more to support parents in raising Christian children. 

posted in: My Daughter!

You're right Bill. That's what I meant when I said that there are consequences for sin. Safe Church would recommend, for example, that one of the consequences of having a criminal sexual offense on your record is that as a result, you are unable to serve the congregation in a position of responsibility with children and youth. There are many other ways to serve that would be more appropriate. We need to be wise and also diligent in our responsibility to protect those who are most vulnerable among us. The Lord has entrusted them to our care. Safe Church Ministry has resources on our website that address returning citizens who have a criminal sexual history. They can be found here.

posted in: What’s in a Name?

There is also the problem of putting people into harm's way aka temptation. I one talked to a person who said he would not object to having a repentant thief as his church treasurer. Why would a person who knows he is tempted to steal want to be a church treasurer? Neither would I want a "reformed" porn addict working with children.  

posted in: What’s in a Name?

There is a difference between acknowledging sin and holding someone accountable, which I believe is something that we need to do much more than we do currently in our churches - and offering grace and forgiveness. Offering grace and forgiveness does not mean that there are not consequences for sin, there may still be consequences. And we are called to be holy, so we don't have permission to continue in our sin. Yet our sin does not define who we are. We are defined by our relationship with our Father, who pronounces us his own, blessed and loved. And as Robin points out his grace is meant to lead to a change of heart, we are in the process of being sanctified, a process that will not end until we dwell in heaven with him. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Rom 8:1) Jesus came not to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:17). We need to reflect that as his people.

posted in: What’s in a Name?

What a challenging assessment, Bev.  Thank you, for helping us to think deeper about this subject.  I would add, though, that the theme of the blogpost was not about political correctness; rather, it was about extending grace to others.  Also, in the passages you mentioned, Paul’s and Jesus’ words were advocating for, and a message for, change.  That labeling was part of the teaching, part of the correction.  I intended for my blogpost to make the distinction between correcting and condemning.

Conversely, the movie antagonist I referenced, Javert, and as I said, sometimes represents certain sections of society, used labeling as a way to shame and condemn Fantine and Jean Valjean.  Javert offered no hope, no message of redemption.  To Javert, what they (Fantine and Jean Valjean) were, was all they would ever be.  That is why Javert pursued Jean Valjean so doggedly, right?  Javert wanted to continually hold Jean Valjean under the banner of the sin he had committed.  That is what people do when they do not have the hope of the Gospel.  But, we have that hope, right?

Therefore, the impetus of the labeling is from a place of loving correction and is a precedent for change.  And, you are right, Jesus does refer to Judas as “a devil” in John 6:70.  In Matthew 26:50, Jesus also calls Judas “friend”.

posted in: What’s in a Name?

Les Mis is one of my favorite stories...however, this is making me go hmmm... I get the concept and it sounds nice and very politically correct, so we aren't "sinners" anymore, instead people who make poor choices/mistakes sometimes...  and yes, sometimes the scripture lists it as those who do certain sinful things....  ie those who are greedy or see Galatians 5:19-21 for a list of sins.

also, I do struggle when people quote that all our deeds are filthy rags, and every intent of our heart is evil, instead of giving Jesus the glory for giving us, as believers, a new heart and making us a new creation in Him, and through His blood, cleansing those filthy rags into fine linen worthy of His Bride (Rev 19:8).. absolutely, we have a new identity in Christ.

but Apostle Paul uses all kinds of labels (I Cor 5:9-13)... Jesus did too...  "brood of vipers" =( ouch! not exactly PC... He didn't say "oh you people who act like snakes sometimes"...  and "blind guides" - not, "these people who don't see clearly all the time"...  He called Judas a "devil"...  He called people wicked and perverse... definitely not "nice" or politically correct, it's part of what got Him killed...

I know it seems harsh in our politically correct culture, but unless we have been translating the Word of God wrong, there is biblical precedent for "labeling" in scripture... it seems, particularly for those who were expected to be spiritual, but were actually walking in sin and un-repentance.

posted in: What’s in a Name?

Thank you, for these helpful suggestions, Mark.  We can all participate better, when we are better informed!

Robin, thanks for this! Here are three ideas to get people started on a road toward fully engaging kids with disabilities at their church:

  • Treat him or her, as much as possible, like you treat the other children.
  • Don't assume what the child can or cannot do, but learn by interacting with him or her and by talking with the child's parents/guardians.
  • For more information, see the Resources for Church Education from Disability Concerns, and Church Services from CLC Network. 

I was not familiar with this report, Bev.  Seems like there was a lot wrong with how they initially handled issues of sexual abuse.  Glad they sought out ways to correct and remedy that.  I was particularly moved by the comment, "Some participants noted that chapel sermons on forgiveness had pushed (those who experience abuse) to forgive quickly, bypassing (those who experience abuse)'s need for lament".  Thank you for sharing this!

you probably have already read this... but just in case you haven't and have some time to read it (even if just the introduction of the report)... the link includes a link to the 300 page report that came out of the independent investigation....  I give Bob Jones considerable credit for carrying through with this investigation on their culture regarding sexual abuse... 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/12/us/bob-jones-university-sex-assault-victim-study.html?_r=1

I wrote this a few nights ago... the idea started after seeing the warning at the beginning of a movie... "piracy is not a victimless crime"... then later when i went to bed, the idea expanded into this telegram format... I put the original text of the "message" in the old fashioned courier style which did not copy to this comment...

TELEGRAM

URGENT

Pornography is not a victimless activity (Stop)

It hurts God (Stop)

It hurts you (Stop)

It hurts your family (Stop)

It hurts your friends and associates (Stop)

It hurts those who are involved in making the pornography (Stop)

It hurts the women and children enslaved in sex trafficking due to fueling the lust for selfish pleasure (Stop)

Please (Stop)

 

 

 

 

Great comment, Shannon!

This is beautiful, Bonnie. Thanks for sharing this meditation and challenging us to keep the long view in mind.

And, bless your heart, Bev, for helping to shed more light on this issue.  You have really helped to enhance this blogpost and this conversation.  I should have asked you to co-write this with me!

posted in: Ties That Bind

bless your heart, Robin, for being willing to speak out here =) 

here's a comment I found while reading a blog last night...

BOQ...Financial security is usually an issue in abusive situations, especially if there are kids involved. ... - abusers usually control everything, including the finances. Threatening complete financial abandonment if not compliant, and dangling "carrots" like trips, jewelry, etc. Both manipulations designed to make her stay, and stay in the fog of confusion. EOQ

and there is a big difference between self control (fruit of the Spirit) and manipulative control (fruit of the enemy)...

 

posted in: Ties That Bind

I really appreciate your input, Bev!  You brought up a good point about leader abuse and spiritual abuse, within the church.  Those are some other issues we need to talk about, as well.  Additionally, your comments on perception and our pass experiences, “…if you've experienced it, you can discern the control lingo that's been spiritualized (which becomes spiritual abuse)...” were also very valuable.

posted in: Ties That Bind

thanks for being willing to look deeper, Robin... control is a huge issue (probably most abuse is about control) -and the control will manifest financially in different ways, as well as in other areas.  Control is not only an issue in relationships, but also in the Church...  it can be so subtle and hard to see...  and one struggles with is it real or imagined (spiritual/emotional abuse v physical/sexual abuse)...  a comment from an article on church abuse...

BOQ... But in the many many months I have spent on studying abusive churches and abusive tactics, there is a very common theme and many common words that churches use that are a substitute for "control". EOQ

if you've experienced it, you can discern the control lingo that's been spiritualized (which becomes spiritual abuse)...  here's an example this same person uses in another comment and her take on it...  the quoted part of the following excerpt is from a church website:

BOQ..."Finally, we understand that we will encounter some very significant challenges that may require the services of an outside trained professional counselor. If necessary, we can refer people to a trusted professional who employs a gospel-centered counseling approach, and who will work together with our community to help shepherd hurting people." In other words. If we decide you do need counseling, it will be with someone who we decide is appropriate. I've been around the block on that. I understand the wording. EOQ

I am amazed at those who have been abused/manipulated by leaders in the Church, how they pick up on this type of "control" and perceive it much quicker than those who have not experienced such abuse and manipulation...  the statements of leaders looks good, sounds good, but there's something amiss and those who've been on the wrong end of it, recognize the loopholes in it, while those who are in leadership often do not...  and that's why discernment is such a needed gift for the Bride of Christ.  hope that makes sense!

 

 

 

 

posted in: Ties That Bind

Interesting point and interesting questions, John, “What is sometimes called financial abuse is often a result of the couple not being on the same page for priorities in spending.”  Still, to see that woman so easily reduced to tears and to hear the desperation in her voice when she said “I don’t have anywhere else to go” indicated, to me, at least the possibility of a pattern of abusive behavior.  Now, easily, someone could counter, “maybe the wife was just a crier or overly emotional”.  That might be the case, but, I do not know if that mindset gives equal weight or room to places where there is, in fact, a problem.

I once heard an associate minister advise a wife that she and her husband needed to talk about their finances and to come to better joint-agreements on how to spend their money.  That sounds amicable enough, right?  But, what prompted this advice was the wife’s comment that she and her husband both worked forty hours a week, outside the home, and that she still had to ask him for lunch money, everyday, and that he would never give her more than $5.00 or $6.00.  So, as I listened to this associate minister assure this wife that everything would be solved with her and her husband just having the “money-talk”, I also heard the need for a deeper concern.  And, internally, I actually questioned how responsible it was for that licensed minister to throw a fix-all-talk-it-out solution at that wife, without first determining whether or not her husband had violent tendencies (the husband did not actually attend our church, so I do not know if the associate minister had ever even met him).

As another example, a former co-worker, who was also a church elder, was very proud of the fact that he provided well enough for his family that his wife did not have to work, outside the home, even saying, “I never wanted a working wife.”  Nothing unsettling at all about that, right?  However, I also noticed that whenever his wife or their teenaged daughter would do something that displeased him, he would remove all of the landline telephones from their home (this was in the early 90’s, before everyone had cellular phones), to “teach them a lesson”.  He would adamantly state, “I bought the phones, so I can take them out when I want”.  Again, that behavior seemed more about control, than about being a good provider.

So, John, I can agree with what I think is your stance that not every financial dispute is, at its core, financial abuse.  The point of this blog, however, was to open a dialogue in our churches to identify when it is, or, at least to ask deeper questions.

posted in: Ties That Bind

Thank you, Bonnie, for this thorough insight and this very helpful link.  What a stimulating blog that was, especially where it said, “We need to create generous space where we can listen to the stories of women who have been told by the church and its leaders that their Christian duty is to remain in an abusive relationship.”

posted in: Ties That Bind

When my husband and I did pre-marital counseling, 36 years ago, we had a session on in-laws (you marry a family not just one person), we also had a session on finances to discover our differences around that issue. We had 4 other sessions, 6 in all. Our pastor was proud of the fact that over 50% of the couples he counseled broke off their engagement (better before than after you're married). But that's not what Robin's article is about. One session that was not covered in our premarital counseling was relationship abuse, how to recognize the signs, how to get help, etc. I wonder how many CRC pastors discuss relationship abuse in their premarital counseling? I wonder how many youth groups talk about dating violence? That's one thing that churches could do to prevent relationship abuse, which is what this blog post is about.

posted in: Ties That Bind

You may be right, Robin... this was a tv show after all, and 'set up' for maximum effect.  The guy seems to be an idiot and heartless.  There is no excuse for the profanity.   But in reality, it is often not so simple.  What kind of store were they going to?  How did the prices compare to alternatives?  How many clothes did the child have already?  Were they wealthy, poor, or average in income?  I know many average families who really spend a lot of time making sure they stretch the dollar by buying on sales, sharing clothes, passing down or receiving barely worn stuff from others.  On the other hand, some people seem to need the latest, most expensive, most faddish stuff, even when they cannot really afford it.  What is sometimes called financial abuse is often a result of the couple not being on the same page for priorities in spending.  Sometimes the spender is the abuser (think of a compulsive gambler).  This is why financial counselling before marriage is so important, just as important as counselling about sharing time, sexual needs, and priorities and methods for raising children, life goals for career or recreational activities, and how to handle disagreements.  Finance is still the number one cause of marriage discordance, as far as I know, so it is important to be on the same page on that from the beginning.  

posted in: Ties That Bind

Thanks for this blog that helps us think about the impact of finances in the broader issue of relationship abuse. It's certainly one important barrier to leaving the relationship. There are many other barriers as well: it can be very dangerous to leave, many of the deaths attributed to relationship abuse happen when the one being victimized tries to leave. Also, "hope springs eternal". There are many positive things about the relationship in spite of abuse. There are the memories of a more loving time, the hope that the apologies and the promises that it will never happen again are true. And if children are involved that adds a whole new dynamic. It's not easy. It's good to think about the complexities of the issue, including the impact of finances. When we, as the church, truly understand the problem, we are better able to offer a helpful response. For another take on this theme see the following article from ReFrame Media: http://thinkchristian.reframemedia.com/scandal-whyistayed-and-standing-a...

posted in: Ties That Bind

This is some fascinating insight, Bev.  I might need to try and find that book!

Such thoughtful and true words, Shannon.  

Thanks for the good words from Marie Fortune, who has worked extensively at the intersection of faith and abuse. Truth telling and acknowledging the wrong are difficult and absolutely necessary first steps. I wonder why that's so hard for us. As Christians, who stand by the grace of God forgiven and loved, it seems that we should be able to do this with one another. What is Christian community without that?

the following is an excerpt from the hope of survivors website which is about abuse by spiritual leaders (those who have authority/power in the Church):

To summarize what Marie M. Fortune wrote in her book, Is Nothing Sacred?, the proper steps to take when implementing justice and mercy (based on Micah 6:8) include:

1. Truth-telling (breaking the silence of the abuse)

2. Acknowledging the violation (in hearing the truth, the church acknowledges the violation)

3. Compassion (means to “suffer with,” to be present, acknowledge and listen, even when you can’t solve the problem)

4. Protecting the vulnerable (prevent further harm)

5. Accountability (based on Luke 17:1-4, it begins with confrontation and should end in repentance)

6. Restitution (making payment for damages is a concrete means of renewing right-relation)

7. Vindication (for the victim, it most often means exoneration and justification)

The bottom line: TAKE RESPONSIBILITY–DON’T HIDE!

Thanks for sharing these thoughts, Bonnie. They challenge us as the Church to have the courage to confront injustice and hurt. May we follow the Spirit's prompting to do so win spite of our fears.

Thank you, Shannon!  I am so glad you found this useful.  It gave me a lot to think about, too.

Thanks for sharing this piece, Robin. It gives us a lot to think about as church leaders. 

Hmmmm, “…human memory converts negative thoughts into positive thoughts…” is an interesting application, in this context.  When I have read those same reports, their focus and goal were to help people overcome depression and rewiring ones brain for positivity and happiness, not as someone using it as a way to validate his/her abusive behavior.  But, as we live in a fallen world, anything can be twisted when someone really does not want to come to terms with his/her actions.

Nevertheless, our churches and its members do not need to “sleep in” on issues of abuse, when we could be doing more to help.

Rather, our churches should be an active, living, breathing organism, with immune systems and bacteria fighting properties intact to promote healing.  When one part of the Body of Christ is hurting, we all should feel it.

So, in effect Abuse Awareness Sunday serves the same purpose as your “Be a good neighbor” Sunday suggestion.  Both serve the greater purpose of us walking alongside each other, through the good and the bad.  Part of the Love in Action instructions we are given in Romans 12:15 is that we should “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

So, if you “sleep in” on Abuse Awareness Sunday, I am sure that someone would miss you in your church family, the same way that someone trapped in abuse would miss having light shed on their dilemma.

Many, many of our neighbors have suffered abuse. How wonderful it would be to welcome neighbors into a congregation that could offer understanding, compassion, hope, and healing. We simply can't do that without first building awareness about the issue of abuse.

If I thought we were to have an "abuse awareness" church service I would sleep in.

I have read that the human memory converts negative thoughts into positive thoughts so "stop beating your wife" is remembered as "the wife needs to be corrected, again." Maybe better to have "Be a good neighbor" Sunday. 

Thank you, for providing this additional information, Carol!  It will be very helpful to our churches as they seek to create Safe Church policies.

Thank you for this important reminder, Robin! We are always happy to help churches with their "fire drills" and developing safer environments for all church members, staff, and visitors. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
Contact us at (616) 241-1691 x2193 ~ Carol, CRC Safe Church Ministry

Hi Harry,

Thank you so much for sharing your concern about the expense of flyers from Safe Church Ministry. I share that concern. Especially in these days of tightening budgets, we need to be strategic and wise in our use of funds as well as other resources. For that reason Safe Church does not send our bulletin inserts to all CRC congregations for Abuse Awareness Sunday each year. We have created bulletin inserts on a variety of topics to fulfill our mandate to increase awareness about abuse. These are made available to view online. Churches who want to use the inserts place orders for them through Safe Church or directly from Faith Alive. It is not the policy of Safe Church to send resource materials to CRC congregations that are not specifically requested. Making the majority of our resources available online helps us all avoid the expense and use of resources involved in producing hard copy. We believe that these bulletin inserts pack a lot of good helpful  information into a small space are are an inexpensive way to help build awareness about key issues that affect our congregations. But we will only send them when specifically requested. We are very thankful that congregations choose to partner with us in increasing awareness about abuse and usually request around 20,000 Safe Church bulletin inserts each year. In addition we are beginning to offer these inserts for a fee to non-CRC organizations who have shown an interest in purchasing them. This perhaps has potential to offset some of the costs.

 

 

 

We received in our church mailbox two 4x6 flyers from safe church ministry. If they were meant to reach all members of the CRCNA some 600,000 of these would have been printed.  At 5 cents each the cost of printing would have been $30,000 and shipping to 300 churches another $3,000

In fairness I should mention that at the same time the same size flyers arrived from world renew, world missions and disability concerns. A total cost of $82,500.

Surely we can find a more responsible way to allocate the churches resources.

To learn more - sign up for the webinar TODAY! Domestic Violence and the Role of the Church. Go to http://www.crcna.org/webinars for more information.

All these are good things to do.
Breaking the silence is the most important. It makes all the rest possible.

I think one of the problems about talking about abuse issues or at least sexual abuse issues is that to talk about it we have to talk about sex. In our church culture we generally do not talk about sexual intercourse, Even normal, heterosexual intercourse within marriage is not discussed. It is considered too private and therefore appears shameful. We do not talk to our children about the joy of sexual intimacy within marriage, or about masturbation, homosexuality, sexual arousal, how to say no to ones self or others,  pornography etc.
All is silent

So children, teens and adults keep on struggling with all these issues.
Children keep on getting molested, raped, exposed to sexual deviancy . . .
Abusers keep hiding in our churches
Survivors keep suffering in silence

All of us say we care and do not want abuse but I don't think that is true anymore.
If we really cared we would do something real about it

When will this change?

Rachel,
I just want to join the chorus and say Thank You for being the guide on this forum. Your work is very much appreciated! I do more reading than posting, but have been following along on this topic as time permits. May God bless and guide you as you move on to other things to write about.

Thank you Rachel for your wonderful work being the Network guide for Safe Church Ministry, especially for your very informative and helpful posts to this site. It's been a tremendous blessing to have you in that role, and you will be missed. I agree with your assessment that we can't prevent abuse if we can't talk openly about it. And that abuse prevention needs to be owned not only by a few people, but by entire congregations and by denominational leadership. I echo your hope that the Network will continue to be a place where people can find "helpful information and resources for support and guidance". THANK YOU RACHEL! Blessings to you.

a quote from the following website dealing with abuse in the church:
http://globaltraumarecovery.org/
It is a sad fact that many organizations, when faced with the choice of protecting an abusive leader or victim, choose to protect the leader (and thus the organization) rather than the victims of that abuse. All too often, victims report that the failure of the system to respond well to their cries for help cause more harm than the original abuse.

The stupidity of some council members, in the case of Ryan*, absolutely blows my mind.  Why did they expose the whole family of a man to shame, when it was the father who was guilty of looking at pornography? And even then indulging in pornography may be a sin, but addictions are considered a mental illness and listed in the DSM-IV.  I don't know about the DSM-V, I've never looked at a copy of the latest edition.  But this was a gratuitous humiliation of innocent people, and the Council should apologize to their victims and ask for forgiveness for the way they were treated.

As for criticizing a woman for having been assaulted by one of her professors, and implying she was at fault ; feminists call that blaming the victim.  Are there still people in our denomination stupid enough to blame children who have been molested for being victims of child sexual abuse? Why do we automatically assume that a female university student--or any other woman for that matter--tried to seduce her aggressor and got raped because of it?  Since when do we believe that men are poor innocent victims of sexual temptations who can't help but give in to them?  Adam in Gen.3, tried to blame both God and Eve for his disobedience, but God didn't buy it and cursed the ground because of what the man did.  We're supposed to show compassion to those who suffer, but I didn't see much of it in those cases.  What will it take for people who claim to be Christians to smarten up?

This may not be a university student related issue. Most universities have extra support systems in place for students that could make it easier, rather than more difficult, for a student to report sexual assault. Research shows that sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes of all. And on top of that, the conviction rate is also very low. There is a tendency for people to blame the one who has been victimized and there is a very real risk of being re-victimized throughout the criminal justice process. Unfortunately, in our culture, the most "normal" thing for someone who has been sexually assaulted to do is NOT report it to the police. Those who have survived abuse most often seek support apart from the criminal justice system. And this is an opportunity for the church to fill an important role in the life of people who have been hurt and who can benefit immensely from the love of our Savior.

Thank-you for writing this article.
So good to hear that Pastor Willis* changed his tone when you called him on it.

It is my experience that my close friends at church are supportive in my struggles with abuse issues and PTSD.

However my church in general could use more education about it. I think that most people care but they do not know what to do.   There is embarrassment because they are not sure what to say so they say nothing  or don't meet your eye or shun like Ryan said. Others believe that such topics should never be talked about.   
Most elders care but they have no idea what to say if my husband or I bring it up at visits. I was once told by an elder that if I had grown up in our church the abuse would not have happened! One elder did some research and got back to me with a book and he was willing to listen and learn. Two of our pastors have been very helpful.
Some people who hear me speak about it avoid me and I later discover that this is  because I have triggered their own pain.

When I first started looking for help to deal with the abuse issues I was re wounded many times by well meaning people who had no idea what help should look like. The best first response is "I am so sorry this was done to you".
A bad response is "You just have to forgive them and forget about it!"
I don't know any survivors who would not choose to forget if they could. We do not deliberately remember. We are haunted.
Thankfully I have received much healing from our precious Lord, and with the help of caring people and counselors and my splendid husband. I am thankful and grateful for this journey to wholeness.

I would like all our churches to make a choice to care about abuse survivors and perpetrators too, to read the books, listen to the teachings and become educated.
I am not ashamed anymore of what was done to me. It is not my shame. It is the abusers shame.
I had better get off my soapbox here.
I appreciate this opportunity to talk about a long neglected topic.

Why don't university students report sex crimes to the police as "normal" victims do? 

Thank you Robin, for your courage, openness, and honesty. May the Lord give us ears to hear.

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