Resource, Article

Find resources that relate to emotional, psychological, and spiritual abuse. 

October 12, 2013 0 0 comments

At times it may seem that the person being abused doesn’t want help, but consider that the individual may be too scared to even consider reaching out to someone.

October 2, 2013 0 0 comments

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), between 2011 and 2020, more than 140 million girls will become child brides.

September 17, 2013 0 0 comments

Get started on your screening today! Your congregation will be a safer place because of your efforts.

August 27, 2013 0 1 comments

Should regular boundary training be required for CRC pastors? Should the CRC adopt a code of ethical conduct for its pastors?

August 19, 2013 0 1 comments

In my community, the tragic consequences of cyber-bullying have been front page news. 

August 13, 2013 0 0 comments

Can a congregation maintain a safe church environment and also welcome those who have offended sexually?

July 30, 2013 0 0 comments

This short video and another helpful webinar will educate your congregation about abuse prevention and why it matters.

July 22, 2013 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

The CRCNA was recently featured in the July Newsletter of “The Hope of Survivors”, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting victims of pastoral sexual abuse and misconduct, as well as providing educational and informational materials and seminars to pastors and churches of every...

July 15, 2013 0 0 comments

"What could possibly happen when you combine a little glue and glitter along with energetic kids and well-meaning volunteers?" A bit of planning will ensure that the environment you provide is secure and safe for all of the children who attend your VBS.

July 2, 2013 0 1 comments

Remember that being in this situation is not your fault! Be true to yourself.

June 27, 2013 0 1 comments

"Maybe we’ve focused so much on trying to keep children from becoming victims that we’ve forgotten to teach them not to be perpetrators."

June 19, 2013 0 5 comments

Now is the time to think and prepare for next year. 

June 11, 2013 0 2 comments

"These are the ‘CAPE-abilities’ that can interrupt and prevent abusive behavior and help those recover who have experienced abuse." - World Institute on Disability

June 3, 2013 0 4 comments

Children living with disabilities are more likely to be abused. An article states that one in three children with an identified disability for which they receive special education services are victims of some type of maltreatment compared to one in 10 nondisabled children.

May 27, 2013 0 0 comments

An emotional abuser intentionally and repeatedly threatens or says harsh words to wear another person down. Once worn down, the victim will try to avoid hearing the threats or nasty words again by doing what the abuser asks. 

May 13, 2013 0 0 comments

Churches and caring individuals can help stop elder abuse and mistreatment in their families and the community. Stand up for vulnerable adults in your neighborhoods and congregation.

May 7, 2013 0 0 comments

Synod has encouraged each classis to have a Safe Church team made up of representatives from each church. The team is a resource to churches, can support local churches in creating safety at the congregational level and empowers churches to be a support to individuals affected by abuse.

May 2, 2013 0 0 comments

Explain to children that, if they think that they are being abused, they need to tell someone they trust. Urge them never to keep abuse a secret, even if the person hurting them tells them that something bad will happen if they tell. 

April 22, 2013 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

Recently I was made aware of this children's book. Check it out!


Families as you take some time to reflect on Child Abuse Awareness Month please consider talking with your children about what they should do if they ever encounter unwanted touch. If you open the door for them to...

April 18, 2013 0 0 comments

Abuse is not always physical or sexual; there are many other ways that power and control can be maintained in a relationship.

April 15, 2013 1 0 comments

Protective factors are attributes that serve as buffers, helping parents who might otherwise be at risk of abusing their children to find resources, supports, or coping strategies that allow them to parent effectively, even under stress. 

April 9, 2013 0 0 comments

“Dating violence refers to a pattern of actual or threatened acts of physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse perpetrated by an adolescent against a current or former dating partner.” 

April 2, 2013 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

Attached is a link to a free webinar on mandated reporting for churches. As National Child Abuse Prevention Month gets underway, take advantage of this opportunity to educate and inform your pastors and staff.

April 2, 2013 0 0 comments

Power can control many things in your life, but it cannot control, or bring you, the love you seek.

March 26, 2013 0 0 comments



Be sure all volunteers, adults and teenagers alike, understand the church's abuse prevention policy and how to implement it in the VBS setting. The parents of these children trust us with their children. It is our comission to keep VBS a safe environment for all participants.

Thanks for the good info Rachel. There are tons of good resources on the RAINN website.

What strikes me when I look over the list of "reducing your risk" is how all the focus is on the one potentially victimized. We must also focus on how to stop those who perpetrate rape and sexual assault. We need to change attitudes that prevent disclosure and keep this issue hidden. We need to make changes to the criminal justice system to increase the conviction rate (a proven deterrent). Sexual assault and rape will stop when the perpetrators stop doing it, period. There are times when no amount of tips for reducing risk will prevent it. (See 2 Samuel 13 for a case study)

And, perhaps against better judgement, I have to mention gender here. When I worked on campus, I helped lead seminars about sexual assault and rape. One of the activities was asking all the men in the room what things they did on a regular basis so that they would not be raped. I got lots of blank stares, and sometimes a few answers. Then we asked the same question to all the women in the room. I check my car before I get in; I leave work before dark; I hold my key ready to use as a weapon; I carry pepper spray; I never walk alone; and the answers went on and on and on.  It was an eye-opening exercise for the men in the room who didn't understand the experience of living in fear of sexual assault, which  was common for most of their women colleagues. I believe a culture change is needed - Male or female, sexual assault and rape are NOT OK.  We, as the Church, must be champions and stand for protecting the dignity of all people, and an end to sexual assault.

A warning, from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Prison Letters: The displacement of God from the world, and from the public part of human life, led to the attempt to keep his place secure at least in the sphere of the ‘personal’, the ‘inner’, and the ‘private’. And as every man still has a private sphere somewhere, that is where he was thought to be the most vulnerable. The secrets known to a man’s valet – that is, to put it crudely, the range of his intimate life, from prayer to his sexual life – have become the hunting-ground of modern pastoral workers. In that way they resemble (though with quite different intentions) the dirtiest gutter journalists – do you remember the Wahrheit and the Glocke, which made public the most intimate details about prominent people? In the one case it’s social, financial, or political blackmail and in the other, religious blackmail. Forgive me, but I can’t put it more mildly. From the sociological point of view this is a revolution from below, a revolt of inferiority. Just as the vulgar mind isn’t satisfied till it has seen some highly placed personage ‘in his bath’, or in other embarrassing situations, so it is here. There is a kind of evil satisfaction in knowing that everyone has his failings and weak spots. In my contacts with the ‘outcasts’ of society, its ‘pariahs’, I’ve noticed repeatedly that mistrust is the dominant motive in their judgment of other people. Every action, even the most unselfish, of a person of high repute is suspected from the outset. These ‘outcasts’ are to be found in all grades of society. In a flower-garden they grub around only for the dung on which the flowers grow. The more isolated a man’s life, the more easily he falls a victim to this attitude. There is also a parallel isolation among the clergy, in what one might call the ‘clerical’ sniffing-around-after-people’s-sins in order to catch them out. It’s as if you couldn’t know a fine house till you had found a cobweb in the furthest cellar, or as if you couldn’t adequately appreciate a good play till you had seen how the actors behave off-stage. It’s the same kind of thing that you find in the novels of the last fifty years, which do not think they have depicted their characters properly till they have described them in their marriage-bed, or in films where undressing scenes are thought necessary. Anything clothed, veiled, pure, and chaste is presumed to be deceitful, disguised, and impure; people here simply show their own impurity. A basic anti-social attitude of mistrust and suspicion is the revolt of inferiority. Regarded theologically, the error is twofold. First, it is thought that a man can be addressed as a sinner only after his weaknesses and meannesses have been spied out. Secondly, it is thought that a man’s essential nature consists of his inmost and most intimate background; that is defined as his ‘inner life,’ and it is precisely in those secret human places that God is to have his domain! On the first point it is to be said that man is certainly a sinner, but is far from being mean or common on that account. To put it rather tritely, were Goethe and Napoleon sinners because they weren’t always faithful husbands? It’s not the sins of weakness, but the sins of strength, which matter here. It’s not in the least necessary to spy out things; the Bible never does so. (Sins of strength: in the genius, hubris; in the peasant, the breaking of the order of life – is the Decalogue a peasant ethic? –; in the bourgeois, fear of free responsibility. Is this correct?) On the second point: the Bible does not recognize our distinction between the outward and the inward. Why should it? It is always concerned with anthropos teleios, the whole man, even where, as in the Sermon on the Mount, the Decalogue is pressed home to refer to ‘inward disposition’. That a good ‘disposition’ can take the place of total goodness is quite unbiblical. The discovery of the so-called inner life dates form the Renaissance, probably from Petrarch. The ‘heart’ in the biblical sense is not the inner life, but the whole man in relation to God. But as a man lives just as much from ‘outwards’ to ‘inwards’ as from ‘inwards’ to ‘outwards’, the view that his essential nature can be understood only from his intimate spiritual background is wholly erroneous. I therefore want to start from the premise that God shouldn’t be smuggled into some last secret place, but that we should frankly recognize that the world, and people, have come of age, that we shouldn’t run man down in his worldliness, but confront him with God at this strongest point, that we should give up all our clerical tricks, and not regard psychotherapy and existentialist philosophy as God’s pioneers. The importunity of all these people is far too unaristocratic for the Word of God to ally itself with them. The Word of God is far removed from this revolt of mistrust, this revolt from below. On the contrary, it reigns.

Having recently read numerous blogs/articles related to the sovereign grace ministries lawsuit, as well as becoming aware of a number of situations where (all kinds of) abuse and inappropriate sexual behavior have been covered up in the Church, I have found several headlines that I believe sum up what is going on:  "Abuse thrives in a cultures of shame and silence" and "protecting the powerful at the expense of the weak" 

it is time for honest transparency in the Church, to stop covering up and saving face...

it's time to follow I Timothy 5:20 so other leaders will be warned.

and it's time to deal with the sexual objectification of women that is so prevalent in our culture


It's time to speak up on behalf of the weak and vulnerable, that are the victims of abuse!


Thank you for sharing this, Rachel. As the mother of two daughters and a son, I find this to be an important reminder to have these conversations. I particularly appreciate Christina's tips. 

Most certainly, respect knows no boundaries! Everyone needs it and deserves it. However, in this blog I am specifically trying to draw particular attention to a big concern in many of our communities, which involves teen girls being assaulted by boys.

Just thinking about some of the school shootings in the news over the years . . . seems like these lessons are equally applicable for how to treat boys as well as girls.

An article reviewing President Barak Obama's remarks about mental health in a speech made on June 3, 2013, says, "The president also pointed out that persons with mental illnesses statistically are far more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators, and the vast majority of gun violence in America is not linked to people with mental problems. 'I want to be absolutely clear the overwhelming majority of people who suffer from mental illnesses are not violent,' he declared."

Yes, I'll echo the thanks for the good information posted about abuse and those with disabilities being more vulnerable. Thanks Rachel!

Thanks for the link to additional resources, Mark! This is an important issue. Many parents with children and adult children living with disabilities have told me that abuse is a big worry. So I am most certain that these resources are appreciated!

Rachel, thanks for your work on this helpful series on disability and abuse. It's painful to read the statistics of how people with disabilities are much more vulnerable to abuse and sexual assault than the general population. Readers may like to know that Disability Rights Wisconsin has produced a number of guides and background papers that may be helpful.

One of the things I love about the Circle of Grace program, currently being sponsored by Safe Church, is the way it encourages children to talk with a trusted adult when something feels unsafe. Children are taught to identify trusted adults in their lives (adults who are honest and who care about them). They also learn to look the adult in the eyes and say "I have something important to tell you". Then they can describe what happened and how they feel using Circle of Grace language, which they are familiar iwth. And because the program includes information for teachers and parents; it helps adults in the church community learn how to respond to a child who discloses feeling unsafe, or an abuse situation. The Circle of Grace program makes our churches safer places because it helps children do exactly what has been recommended in this blog. Find out more about Circle of Grace on the Safe Church website - click on the left sidebar where it says, "Education is the Best Prevention."

Thank you for sharing this helpful article.

Thank you for this useful information Rachel.

As I read this post I couldn't help thinking about the Circle of Grace program that Safe Church is promoting for all CRC churches. It's not just a program for children and youth in grades K-12, equipping them to be active participants in creating a safe environment for themselves and others. With the information that goes to parents, and the training that is included for teachers, it raises awareness and changes the culture in the entire church community. It gives us a common language to talk about these important issues. I believe it is one of the best comprehensive tools available for buidling communities characterized by respectful, open, and healthy relationships. Is there a better way to to prevent abuse? Find out more about Circle of Grace on the Safe Church website - under education is the best prevention.

Thank you, Rachel, for the great resources.

I would like to highlight one of the resources you listed, Circle of Grace. Safe Church Ministry has this curriculum for churches to use. Please contact our office for sample lessons and further information.

Our goal is that every church and youth program in the CRCNA uses a curriculum that teaches respect and promotes healthy relationships.

Alicia Mannes

Associate, Safe Church Ministry

Dear Jan,

Thanks for your question. I am providing you and others with some links on our website that may be helpful regarding Policies and Healthy Relationships.


Alicia Mannes

Associate, Safe Church Ministry

Thank you, Bonnie, for your answer.  It is helpful.  The local Police Dept told me there is no law in our state regarding background checks, and our insurance agent told us there is no requirement from an insurance standpoint, so we need to use our best judgement.  I decided to follow our Christian School's practices.  You are reminding us of the importance of using our "common sense".

It’s important to note that any criminal background check has limitations. For starters, it’s only good until the moment it is completed. It doesn’t predict first offenses, and doesn’t include any offenses that went unreported. It may not reflect an accurate record of an offense (often plea bargains are made in court for lesser crimes, so the background check may not record the actual offense committed, only the plea deal reached in court). Depending on the criminal background check, it may only be good for the state or province in which it is conducted; and may say nothing about offenses that occurred in other places. As important as a criminal background check is, we must be aware of these limitations. Each church must weigh risks and costs, and then make a decision about how to proceed in terms of criminal background checks for staff and volunteers. It’s a good idea to check with the church’s insurance provider to see what is recommended or required. Insurance agents can be good sources for information and help to churches who may face obstacles in meeting requirements.


A criminal background check is not a panacea and does not stand alone as a method for screening church staff and volunteers. It is one part of an overall process, which includes an application, an interview, checking references, and getting to know the person in other ways. Because no screening can perfectly predict behavior, policies must also be in place and must be followed that limit risks for abuse. For example, a policy that doesn’t allow an adult to be alone with a child, and includes provisions for transportation, discipline, etc. provides an extra measure of safety.


So, back to the question; do background checks need to be repeated every three years? Given all the limitations just described, is it worth spending the money for a new background check? Some churches instead require self-reporting each year by their volunteers. In other words, each year a document is signed by the volunteer that says nothing has changed with regards to certain offenses in the last year. If a rigorous selection process was originally done, and if there are strong policies also in place, is this enough? Again, we come back to the fact that each church must continually weigh the risks and costs of its actions. The church must come to a decision that it can live with; one that gives peace of mind that due diligence has been done to create and maintain a safe environment. There are costs (time, energy, money) involved in providing a safe environment in our churches. If you’ve ever had to deal with the horrific after-effects of abuse, you know that the resources spent preventing it from happening in the first place are well worth it.

Thank you Rachel for your past two posts. Great ideas, keep them coming.

Wow, Wendy, you are quick.   Well, to answer your simple question which has so many possible situations,  "someone" would have to have an identity first.  And the "beater" would also have to have an identity.   If it was one of my sons who did the beating of his wife or child for example (can't see that happening), then they would be in big trouble.... likely get a serious talking to by my wife with my full support, and perhaps being physically restrained or even punished by my other sons and myself, for example.   Simply not acceptable.   Okay... what if it is a stranger?  or a friend?  Do they have a "protector"?   every situation requires examination of circumstances, was it once in a lifetime, or is it habitual, or somewhere in between.   The woman would simply be supported;  either given a place to live, or security of protection, or opportunity to prosecute, or opportunity to forgive provided true repentance (meaning no recidivism) occurs.  

The same general concern for a man or boy who has been beaten.   Depending on cause, severity, repetition.   Given a safe place and a remedy to prevent reoccurence, which may or may not include legal action.   Of course, beaters are human beings as well, perhaps sometimes also victims of abuse, and God provides grace and redemption for the worst of sinners.    So, consequences with grace.  

A small child beating another small child might get a spanking, or be isolated, or something else, depending on what has the biggest impact. 

A child who was beaten(abused) by a mother - a different situation again.   Depends again on how well we knew the child and mother, the circumstances, the likelihood of re-offending, etc.   But in no case is it acceptable beyond a simple spanking in appropriate  circumstances which would not be considered to be a beating.   Protection of the life and health and emotional well-being of the child would be paramount. 

In the same way, we adopt children, support single mothers, and maintain the value of the unborn female child, and the ability of the mother to give birth, as a response to those who would kill the unborn females. 

Well, you possibly knew you wouldn't get a short answer to a short question?  :) 

so your response to someone who was beaten would be what?

Abortion is also violence against women.   About half the unborn aborted are females.  They are not just beaten.  They are killed.   Therefore it is not a separate issue.  Secondly, in many, many cases, abortion is part of the abuse of women by males who persuade or encourage or threaten the woman into getting the abortion.  Therefore it is not a separate issue.   In a few cases, the opposite happens, where a woman gets an abortion and it is in effect a form of abuse against  the father, to destroy his child.   I personally think that violence against women is worse than violence against men, because men are often expecting or living in expectation of a higher degree of violence, whether it is in sport such as football or car derbies, or in work such as wrestling calves or riding bulls.  But the abuse of the vulnerable by the more powerful is much the same.   I think that abortion is part of that violence, and that the mentality of abortion is the same as the mentality of abusing women, because both are centered around abusing those who are less powerful.   Unborn females are the least powerful of all. 

While I appreciate both comments by Wendy and Bonnie, as long as abortion is put on the sidelines or separated from abuse issues, then solving the problem of abuse of women is only an issue of dealing with outward symptoms, and not of the heart of the disease.   The abuse of women also happens by women who happen to be more powerful than other women who have caught the disease of using power to abuse and manipulate and attain selfish desires at the expense of the less powerful and more vulnerable.   Therefore I think KW has a very valid point. 

This blog was written for people who are already born and alive in the world, all the already-born women, grandmothers, mothers, sisters & friends - of whom 1 in 3 will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. That's the topic here. Don't you think the church should take a stand against that?

OK, I see what you're saying now. I still think the primary issue addressed in this post - violence against women - deserves its own consideration. Abortion is a separate issue, albeit an important one.

I'm sorry, but that's not the same thing at all. Are you really lumping together women who have been victims of violence  - through no fault of their own - with those who choose to have an abortion?" 

Wendy, why do you think I am lumping them together?   Actually, I am lumping together those who are encouraging women to have abortions, with abusers.  And I am lumping together those women who are victims of abuse, with the victims of abortion, the unborn who died. 

I'm sorry, but that's not the same thing at all. Are you really lumping together women who have been victims of violence  - through no fault of their own - with those who choose to have an abortion?

Bonnie, don't you think that many cases, maybe most, are the result of men abusing women?  using them and not supporting them?   And women permitting the abuse?  (Sex without committment is abuse.)   And then pushing the abortion on the woman... isn't that also a form of abuse?   And what about the abuse of the fetus, the unborn, the new life?  Is this not also violence? 


Thank you for your comment and for expressing your concerns.

I hesitate to enter into this discussion because it IS ALL about VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN - NOT about abortion, which is an entirely different issue. Until the church is more vocal in its opposition to violence against women, I will choose to stand with those who are taking a stand - we can agree on that, and stand in solidarity - even though we do not agree with the position that those organizations take on every other issue. When I was a student at Wheaton, I heard the phrase "all truth is God's truth" - it's like rain that falls on the good and bad alike. In standing against violence against women, we are finding common ground - it's a point of connection that can allow our lights to shine in a dark place.

Regarding sexuality - Safe Church has a free downloadable resource called "Driver's Training for Dating" which will help youth learn the sacredness of the sexual relationship and navigate through the highly sexualized culture that we live in.  We also offer "Circle of Grace" a program for all ages that teaches respect for one another in healthy relationships - We have offered this excellent resource free of charge to the first 50 churches that agree to use it - it's sad to me that only about half that number have signed on. Do our churches really care about this?

Regarding abortion - I am a member of "Feminists for Life" which is an organization that follows in the footsteps of  great feminists of the past, those who fought so bravely for women to have the right to vote. These women were strongly opposed to abortion. Did you know that the number one reason that a woman seeks an abortion is because of lack of resources and support? So, if we want to see fewer abortions, we need to support women. I base my opinion on abortion on my belief that life begins far before someone is born - that the Lord is creatively working in the womb. I understand that not everyone shares that belief. I also feel that I must say one more thing in response to the post. It makes no sense to me to compare abortion to violence against women. Please understand; in an abortion a woman agrees to a sanitary, surgical procedure - however unpleasant and difficult that may be. That is nothing at all like the experience of terror and powerlessness that occurs in violence or in rape - nothing like it at all - there simply is no comparison.

While I am definitely against violence against women and support bringing awareness to the issue,  I wonder how the CRCNA can recommend the above websites? It less about violence and more about indoctrinating a mindset. I would think the logo would be the first clue, it's messages to girls on sex, sexuality and abortion is in direct opposition to the Bible and what I believe the CRC believes and mandates. Bringing attention to violence against women is one thing, but promoting abortion, which is one of the most violent acts against women and their unborn babies is a whole other matter. The connection to Planned Parenthood and poor sexual messages to our young girsl seems very in poor judgement. It's time we look beyond the hype of trendy "social justice" organizations, look beyond the spin, and find a clear biblical way to promote the message. What you've suggested above is clearly about much more than violence against women.

I think Safe Haven ministries is a great outreach, I just don't think we need to connect it to this.

If you've ever known anyone who has been stalked, you know how much it impacts his or her entire life. The fact that 1 in 7people who have been stalked move as a result shows how serious it can be. No one should have to live in constant fear. And I know of cases in the CRC, so this is not something that only happens somewhere else. Thanks for the resources Rachel.

Thank you for the great resources.


Thanks for your sensitivity and insight in this issue. I can tell you have more than a casual knowledge of SA. What we're really talking about here is changing the culture to accept the reality of male sexual abuse and then normalizing that discussion in the church.

But when the latest books still state that offenders are 'he' and victims 'she,' when national organizations struggle to even mention abuse of boys, when feminist groups only use proportionality arguments, and when churches offer no support groups for male victims, then it's very disingenuous to toss around all things 'patriarchy' while doing so little for male victims in their youth. Is the church really committed to facing this complex issue?

Recent events (like Penn State) reveal that numbers for abused boys are now closer to 1 in 5 (girls 1 in 4), but will this have any real effect in policy and church address. So I couldn't agree more--let's be his hands and feet to all image bearers broken by SA, not  just those of a certain gender or we will create another layer of problems for the next generation.


My heart pains for all victims of abuse, because of the permanent damage that it does to their psyche.  There is absolutely no justification for the gratification of desire or power by the perpetrator that is inflicted on their vulnerable victims.  It is my sincere hope that we as Christians will always be open and supportive and "safe persons" for all victims of abuse to share their deepest thoughts and feelings about their abuse.  It is extremely important that we communicate that we believe them, regardless of how unlikely the perpetrator is alleged to be (the incidence of suicide is higher than the general population because they feel damaged, shame or that nobody believes them).  Let's all be God's heart and hands to all victim of abuse, including males.

One area of male sexual abuse that's in dire need of address--I know, next to the whole issue--is male rape by other males. Male SA tends to be more gruesome. Regardless, what people need to realize is that "power rape" from arrogant males doesn't traumatize just  one gender. Many male victims will struggle to trust men for the rest of their lives. When they are not believed and the systems punish them for speaking out, the self-sabotage can be devastating.

Consider this story:

Any care to discuss this?

In addition, the state of Connecticut has produced resources in response to the recent tragedy (you may have to modify these for a Christian perspective - although I'm sure much of it will be very helpful as is):

We also can learn from our Mennonite brothers and sisters who have been at the forefront of promoting peace in families, in churches, in communities and in the world. Search their website for great resources.

Blessed are the peacemakers.



I attempted to fix the link.

Because I've mentioned that survivors often have the added challenge of facing-down some toxic myths, I thought I would pass along a link that explains a few of those myths that live on in the church. I wrote this a while back.

The Office of Safe Church Ministry has a copy of Dr. Schmutzer's book The Long Journey Home in our lending library.

Stanley, the issue about resources to address survivors within the church context is such an important topic, but the resources needed extend far beyond hymns and choruses. Addressing the abused needs deep and corporate rituals woven into healing services. For example, why don't we capitolize on Holy Innocents Day (Dec 28), observed by worship in commemoration of the children slain by Herod at Bethlehem (Matt 2:16). When society acknowledges National Abuse Month in April (in the US), why is it so hard for the church to acknowledge its children broken by abuse?

The most thorough address of this right now is a chapter called "Healing the Wounded Heart through Ritual and LIturgy" (293-313) in The Long Journey Home: Understanding and Ministering to the Sexually Abused (Wipf and Stock, 2011). 

I edited the book, so I know it's contribution. Blessings.

I would like to hear from: (1) male survivors as well as (2) female spouses of male survivors...what do you (and your  husbands) need for better healing and recovery? And, what have you found to be the more 'toxic myths' that have hurt you?

Rachel, thanks for being a strong Christiain voice for advocacy and care within a faith communitiy. Blessings, Andrew J. Schmutzer <>

Thank you Elly for your support of Safe Church. It is great to have people like you in the church.

You ask in what ways can we expand the work of safe church ministry.  I believe the safe church ministry needs to be there foe all members of the CRC, and that includes pastors!  When we have pastors "retiring" and possible leaving ministry totally because churches don't (or won't) deal with issues such as inappropriate behavious and stalking by parishioners, it's a sure indication that we need to train and equip our churches on how to deal with these kind of issues, and even educate them how to access professional help if that is indicated and needed.  What would Jesus do?  That's something that needs to be discerned, but I know for certain that God's vision for His churches is that they are places that all members feel safe and secure, and when they are not, we need to look for guidance from the Holy Spirit and ministries like Safe Church to correct that. 

In their 2001 report on Family Violence in Canada**, The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics found that family members, including relatives, constituted the vast majority (93%) of alleged perpetrators. Another statistical study conducted in 2001 by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics**** found that:

  • among family assaults parents were the perpetrators in 56% of physical assaults against youths and 43% of sexual assaults against youth victims 12 to 17 years of age;
  • siblings were responsible for approximately 25% of physical and 26% of sexual assaults in the family that were perpetrated against youth
  • extended family members committed 8% of physical, and 28% of sexual assaults against youth

RESULTS from Dube et al.: Contact Childhood Sex Aabuse was reported by 16% of males and 25% of females. Men reported female perpetration of CSA nearly 40% of the time, and women reported female perpetration of CSA 6% of the time. CSA significantly increased the risk of the outcomes. The magnitude of the increase was similar for men and women. For example, compared to reporting no sexual abuse, a history of suicide attempt was more than twice as likely among both men and women who experienced CSA (p < 0.05). Compared with those who did not report CSA, men and women exposed to CSA were at a 40% increased risk of marrying an alcoholic, and a 40% to 50% increased risk of reporting current problems with their marriage (p < 0.05). (Dube, S. R., et al. (2005). Long-term consequences of childhood sexual abuse by gender of victim. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 28, 430-438)

To be specific, it was Shawn who was hurt, and the reason had little to do with facial expressions or lack thereof.  It had to do with his perception of the minimization of violence done to men by women.   Although he wasn't specific, it possibly included violence and even sexual abuse by mothers to their sons(I believe he mentioned this at another time or discussion), an issue not addressed as often.  Domestic violence is a larger topic than just abuse of wives, and he did not seem to get an acknowledgement of that, and of the real pain he suffered. 

It would also be interesting to research how often male abusers of women have themselves been abused by their mothers.   While it is true that usually their fathers are role models, sometimes it is the mothers who have built up the hidden resentments and powerlessness in the child which eventually manifests itself  in how they treat their wives.   It's complicated,  because sometimes it works the other way, where the man will look for someone similar to his abusive mother as a spouse.  

In any case, it is sin at work in us.   Simply blaming one gender will never help us to find a solution. 

Shawn, I empathize with you.   I have personally seen a woman shove a man against a vehicle in a marital dispute, without immediate provocation.   She was not a weak woman, she handled carpentry tools, and was strong.   Yet, in the end, her complaint was that her husband was abusive.   Maybe he was in some ways, but if he complained about her action, it would be pretty well disregarded, and in fact, he probably wouldn't think of complaining about it.   And who knows if he started it, or if she did. 

I know of another case where a man was kicked around a room by his "wife", a drug addict who was 50 lbs heavier than him.   He did not fight back.   When telling of it, he just grinned ruefully.  For his own sake he would not take her to court, nor seek other help.  For a child he would. 

On the one hand, we know that physical abuse by women against men is just as common as the other way around.   On the other hand, we know that men are usually dealing with it in a different way.   A woman who hits a man may get hit back twice as hard, or could be restrained by the man, or could have her broom or other weapon taken away and broken.   This is less likely to happen when a man physically abuses a woman.   Thus on average, the consequences are different for men and women, and that is what these programs are addressing.  

The difficulty for us is to separate consequences from intent.    While women suffer more severe consequences more often, that does not mean that men inherently have more evil intent than women.    In that way, they are pretty well equal.  Egalitarian, if you will.  

When you see pictures of thousands of young men in squares in mid-east cities, chanting slogans, inciting violence, encouraging retribution, you should visualize a mother behind each young man, many of them encouraging their young men in their violence. 

All the women working in the munitions factories in the USA during the WWII were certainly not hoping that the bombs they were making would fall harmlessly into the sea.   When it comes to enemies, women can become quite violent. 

The objective for a marriage, is that the two become friends, not enemies. 

Hi Forum Friends ... I am sorry to hear that someone has been hurt by this blog discussion to the point of unsubscribing to the forum. We certainly regret any hurt caused as that is not our intention for this space. This is an online space in which we want to encourage open and respectful dialogue from a variety of perspectives. However, I also understand that we will not always agree, and I also realize that sometimes our differences can cause hurt feelings and reinforce pain from past experiences. Communicating in this way -- in an online forum -- can be challenging as we are limited to typing words on a screen, and we lack the face-to-face contact that would allow us to show our concern and compassion to each other. For instance, online communication lacks the sharing of facial expressions, emotional cues and other gestures that would demonstrate that we are open and hearing each other's concerns, despite having different opinions. Please rest assured that the caring and concern are there! I know that our Safe Church leaders are acting out of the greatest love and compassion and trying hard to help all of us create safe environments in our churches and homes. They are always open to hearing how the church can support everyone better. Thanks for your understanding.

Bonnie, I'm aware of the tension about gender roles.   However, the way you describe this tension indicates how you see the problem.   The verses of the bible that are quoted, vs the verses that are ignored, also indicate a preferential view, rather than a holistic and comprehensive scripture based view.   I do not see it as authoritarian vs egalitarian.  I see it as complementarian vs homogeneous egalitarian.   In God's view, a fisherman is equal to an apostle;  that is egalitarian also.

If you choose to ignore the impllications of the woman taking the fruit and giving it to her husband, then you have reduced the validity of Genesis 1 also, since it is not more valid than the more detailed account.  If you ignore the headship of the man in Ephesians 5, then you have reduced the validity of paying attention to mutual submission in the same chapter.  It must all fit together in a comprehensible package;  not tearing off bits and pieces which are not as palatable. 

Of course, you are right that there is no room for abuse in any scenario, but if a woman  defines abuse as "controlling", can we be certain that she would not find Adam's restraint of Eve as a form of abuse?  

Of course you want respect.   But would you be happy with respect given grudgingly, without love?   Would you be happy with a respect given by an opponent who is out to destroy you?   Two spouses in the throes of divorce might still respect the tenacity of the other....   In reality, men will acknowledge respect easier than demonstrating love, and for that reason they are commanded to show love (which is often their weak point) rather than respect, which they are already more inclined to do. 

Respect is also a funny thing, especially for women.   To respect a woman for her peculiar role in child bearing, for how she demonstrates her love, for how she does her job, and for how she can step beyond her role....   I believe Demi Moore in one movie wanted respect as a soldier, but then, somehow also wanted respect for her woman hood.   And might receive extra respect simply because she went beyond expectations.   The only way to respect her in that case was to make life as miserable as possible for her....  but that is not much of a role model for Christians. 

In the end, what you want or what I want is not a definition of what God wants for us.   It is just as easy for us to want the wrong thing as the right thing, and therefore we must go back to scripture to find out what God wants for us.  To all of scripture.  

I have followed many of the discussions on this site since joining approximately one year ago including discussions on Pornography, Dating Violence and the need for Small Groups.  I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to be a part of these discussions and I believe I have learned a great deal about who I am as a follower of Christ from being able to read the other members’ comments and experiences.  While I find the anger, sexism and unforgiveness in many of the forums very disheartening I am very grateful for the opportunity to see how other men and women experience Christ.

Tonight when I came home from the hospital and looked into my email account to find several email notifications from the crcna site I was excited.  I was hopeful that I would see more from John as I like his style of writing (it is very easy to visualise his sharing) and I noted that Bonnie too had commented and I was very anxious to read both sets of comments knowing they would be very well written. 

As I was reading through the comments I read about how “all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect” and then I read the closing comment promoting male victims of violence as a minority and male offenders as a majority.  To say I was stunned to hear this coming from the director of Safe Church would be an understatement.  I then began trying to put the comment into context with the rest of the writing but could not.  I finally realised that I was not able to understand why you would choose to re-victimize male victims of violence…… because there is no understanding that

For myself as an individual male victim/Survivor I find I am experiencing a higher rate of re-victimization here through the sexism and gender politics than I do working with both victims and offenders daily.  This being said, for my emotional and spiritual wellbeing I must end my membership.  Christ does not victimize He redeems and uplifts.

I strongly suggest that Safe Church look at what their purpose is for promoting a gender specific statistic focusing on the supposed minority.  To the male victim/Survivor there is only one reason as shared previously with Safe Church; to lessen the impact of violence on that gender and that is re-victimization. 


BTW, speaking for myself, as a woman, I desire respect and do not feel love without it. I won't claim to speak for all women, but I would guess I'm not alone. (Can you hear Aretha Franklin singing, R-E-S-P-E-C-T, just a little bit?)