Blog

“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.

 

 

http://www.christianitytoday.com/lyris/churchmanagementupdate/...

April 2, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

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
Resource

Find helpful books, articles and documents on child abuse awareness. 

March 23, 2013 0 0 comments
Resource, Brochure or Pamphlet

Here's a link to the Safe Church Ministry brochure. Learn more about our ministry as we strive to equip congregations in Abuse Awareness, Prevention, and Response. 

March 23, 2013 0 0 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet

Here are four books that Safe Church Ministry recommends on the topic of bullying. 

March 23, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

"Part of the work is ensuring that boundaries are established and maintained, the harm of sexual abuse is understood, and healthy relationships are actively talked about. Each of these is essential to prevention.”

March 18, 2013 0 1 comments
Blog

Dove's Nest has created resources to help churches focus on the role they can play in child abuse prevention.

March 12, 2013 0 1 comments
Q&A

We are a mostly 65 and older congregation. We would like to put a SAfe church policy in place but most info is geared at a much younger congregation with children. Anyone have any suggestions/resources where we could go??

\

March 8, 2013 0 1 comments
Blog

"Often, ministers want to resolve such matters internally through counseling with the victim or the alleged offender, without contacting civil authorities.” Richard R. Hammar goes on to explain that “such a response can have serious legal consequences.”

March 4, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

We can begin to prevent abuse by starting at an early age to teach our children respect for themselves and for one another; and by helping them learn what to do in situations that feel unsafe.

February 26, 2013 0 0 comments
Q&A

In our jurisdiction, background checks cost money. Many men are having to submit to an additional level of background check involving fingerprints because their birthdays are the same as a pardoned sex offender. This is an additional cost. The police do not hold on to the information, so if the...

February 20, 2013 0 3 comments
Blog

“Remember that you can do more harm by supplying a child with words and ideas. Let the child tell her own story and give you the answers.”

February 18, 2013 0 1 comments
Blog

“Too often, intervention occurs only after abuse is reported. Greater investments are needed in programs that have proven to stop abuse before it occurs – such as family counseling and mandatory parenting education.” - Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies

February 13, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

“Research shows that children often tell about their experiences many times before action is taken to respond.”

February 4, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

We can let people know that we are Christians who care about abuse, who want to see it end, and so does Jesus.

January 28, 2013 0 10 comments
Blog

How much do you know about stalking? Take this interactive quiz.

January 21, 2013 0 2 comments
Discussion Topic

Attached is the Presidential Proclamation:

 

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/12/31/presidential-proclamation-national-stalking-awareness-month-2013

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/12/31/presidential-proclamation-national-slavery-and-human-...

January 15, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

“Since only .001 percent of all deaths occur in church, we can easily be lulled into thinking that such things could never happen to us. And yet the sad truth is, such things can and do happen to us. Churches are particularly vulnerable.” - Michael Jackson with the Enrichment Journal.

January 14, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

When gun violence occurs in public places, church members may wonder, “What if gun violence were to occur at my place of worship?” Are our churches prepared to deal with this type of crisis?

January 7, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

Think about what your little ones are hearing and seeing. “You may think that children are not listening, but perhaps they are,” says Bonnie Nicholas, Director of Safe Church Ministry. “Hearing more and more about this incident may be OK for you as an adult, but it is not healthy for young children.”

December 27, 2012 0 2 comments
Blog

“If abuse is mentioned at all, it’s not going to be about male victims—theirs is a disenfranchised grief. It is not socially acknowledged, publically mourned, or homiletically addressed.”

December 20, 2012 0 7 comments
Blog

“We cannot stick our head in the sand and think that abuse will never happen in our churches. It has happened and probably will happen in the future. We need to be prepared and do all we can to prevent it from happening.” 

December 11, 2012 0 2 comments
Blog

Male survivors of sexual abuse need to understand and be reassured that healing is possible.

December 4, 2012 1 1 comments
Blog

"The Long Journey Home provides important and timely information and advocacy for the men and women living with the devastating effects of sexual abuse and rape."

November 26, 2012 1 1 comments

Pages

RSS

I might suggest the website http://www.cbeinternational.org/ - Christians for Biblical Equality for an alternate view. The CRC holds in tension more than one view regarding gender roles. That is because people of sincere faith, with a high view of Scripture, interpret it in different ways.

My point is that whether one has an authoritarian view of gender or an egalitarian view; there is no room for abuse in either one. The church must learn to more effectively respond to the evil of abuse.

Yes, Bonnie God created a partnership.  But, are all partnerships created equal?   To say it is a partnership is an oversimplification.   It is not a partnership of two homogenous beings, but of two complementary humans.   That is precisely why homosex partnerships were not intended.   And that is also why scripture says the man was created first.   Inherent in this partnership is the beauty and uniqueness of the difference of the partners.  

But more than that, Genesis 3 illustrates what happened when the partnership became involved in sin.   What was the sin or sequence of sins that destroyed the way the partnership was supposed to work?   The woman was created to be a helper to the man (Gen 2).   In Genesis 3, she decided she could make her own decisions, contrary to God's command, and without apparently asking the man whether it was a good idea.   So it says, "she took and ate".   She stopped being man's helper, and became man's temptation.  She "gave it to him, ...and he ate of it".   Their partnership seemed to be working; they were doing things together, getting along.   She wanted it, he agreed....  

And God held the man primarily responsible.   Why?  because he was with her, and kept his mouth shut.   He didn't tell her to put it down.   To leave it alone.   He didn't remind her that God not the serpent had created them.  He didn't take control.   So God held him responsible.   He blamed his wife, but it didn't help, because he was still primarily responsible.   She was his helper, not his boss.   He neglected his responsibility.  And suffered as a result.  If he had taken control, they could still have been living in paradise. 

They both wanted to blame the serpent, but that didn't help either. 

Does this mean that the man is more important to God than the woman?   Absolutely not!   The woman and the child are as important, significant, and valuable to God as the man.  The child and the farmer are as important and valuable to God as are the Pope and Billy Graham and the apostle Paul.   But just as the apostle Peter had a different role to play than the children on Jesus knees, so the husband has a different role to play than the wife who loves him. 

Can you love someone without respecting them?   Well, many women think they can.   They think they are marrying the man their husband will become when they have changed him, rather than the man he already is.   They believe they love him;  they feel they love him.   Probably they do, in a way.   The man also knows that his woman will love the baby she  gives birth to, but respect for dirty diapers, no.    Therefore for the man, he wants a love that is associated with respect.   Men see love in the respect shown.   If the respect is not demonstrated, then they will not see the love. 

First one question, can you truly love someone without respecting them?

Now, more to the issue - Before the fall we can see the Lord's plan for men and women unmarred by sin:

In Genesis 1 (TNIV) we read:

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created human beings in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Do you see it? It was designed to be a partnership - that was the original plan. Gender has been very messed up since Genesis 3. Praise the Lord that we are redeemed and through Christ are able to live lives that are more loving toward others and more honoring toward God. Our true home is a place where the original design for relationships will be a reality; that's what we were created for. And until we get there, I will pray for the Lord's will to be done in earth as it is in heaven. I don't think that there will be any abuse in relationships there.

It would be interesting to examine the statement that our ideas about men and women have been influenced by culture.  In most cases, when people say this, they are thinking about how someone else was influenced, and not about themselves.   Then there is the possibility that our culture was actually influenced by scripture to some extent.  And how objectively will we be aware of that?  

I'm reminded of an incident as a youth, when the junior high boys were playing "keep away" the football from each other.  Somehow the ball rolled to the feet of a group of girls, and one large girl picked up the ball.  She was tall, and heavy and athletic.   She held up the ball in one hand.   The boys tried to jump up to grab the ball but they were shorter and couldn't reach it.   They didn't want to touch her.   She swatted them to the ground with her other arm, and the other girls were laughing at the boys.   There was no hope of the boys getting this ball back.   She was tough, and big.  

Finally one boy ran around her and jumped on her from the back, knocking her to her knees.   The ball bounced loose and the boys got it back.   They left the girls and went back to playing their game.   But some of the girls were outraged that a boy had knocked down a girl.   Some of the boys had question marks on their faces about whether that was the right thing to do.   Just because she had been knocking boys down for some time did not suggest to them that they had a right to do the same.   

The boys would not dare be indignant, nor complain about unfair behaviour.   But the girls would.   Those boys and girls are the 'boomers" of today, but their attitudes were formed many years ago.   Good attitudes in many ways.   But, a double standard existed then, and still does today. 

When we look at Ephesians 5, submit to one another as Christ sacrificed himself for us, or submit out of reverence for Christ, then we could potentially say that as Christ was abused, so we should be willing to be abused.    At one level, this is true.   Imagine if both spouses were willing to be abused... would there still be strife?   But it is not helpful for how we mutually must strive to serve one another.   The rest of ephesians 5 provides a more clear guideline for how to provide peace and harmony when there are times of disagreement and conflict.   The woman must respect, the man must love. 

Thanks for the post! I'm convinced, due to the prevalence of abuse, that if our churches were better at responding to it, we would not have to worry about dwindling numbers in our churches; they would be full.

Churches have huge potential in the area of responding to abuse and those impacted by it. I often like to emphasize the value of a listening ear (we all have two of them) and a ministry of presense, which is so valuable. It's important to note that churches are not alone in this. Churches can act in a "walk-alongside" role with someone who is seeking other community and professional resources. Though churches rarely will have all the resources that are needed in dealing with abuse situations, we have unique resources, with our Lord and with his people, that are simply not available anywhere else. We need to do our part.

Greetings,

And thank you to those who have posted comments. I feel a need to say a few words.

Our ideas about gender have been heavily influenced by our culture, which is fallen and darkened. We must be careful not to confuse these cultural ideas with our Lord’s design for men and women.

ALL people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect; we are created with infinite worth in the image of our Lord. Whenever we treat people as less than that, we dishonor Him. In a culture full of disrespect, we have the opportunity to shine like stars in the way we honor and love one another.

Abuse is the exact opposite of what the Lord desires for our relationships. He has shown us how to live, considering others rather than ourselves (see Philippians 2). He has commanded us to love one another. Ephesians 5 begins, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Verse 21 says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”. That is the context for submission in all of our relationships. The marriage relationship is of particular importance as it reflects the relationship between Christ and his bride, the Church, whom he loves and for whom He gave his life.

Unfortunately, abuse exists. The statistics are staggering. And yes, more often it is the case that women are the ones victimized and men are the ones that abuse – although that is not always the case – and saying that does not diminish the pain of men who have been victimized.

The church must do it’s part to stop this evil among us. Safe Church is working toward that end.

I agree that Lundy Bancroft's books are an excellent resource in understanding the dynamics of power and control that operate in many abusive relationships. His books can help open people's eyes to the reality of what is really going on in a relationship. Having this greater understanding leads to a much better response and better outcomes. I  highly recommend his work.

But abuse is about much more than just physical violence.  Physical violence is a symptom of abuse.  As Laura has pointed out, she is concerned about  "controlling"  men.   But control by itself could be seen to be a good thing.   A man and his wife should definately control their kids.   The issue is not really about control, but about how that control is managed.   Is the control for their benefit?   Is the control stifling?  Is the control loving? 

Now a wife may not want to be controlled.   Sometimes she wants to do the controlling.   In reality, in a Christian context, it should be a mutual control.   They should each allow themselves to be controlled to some extent by the other.   They should both be controlled by God's Word.   They should both control their own selfishness and their own desires.   And they need to allow each other to help with that.   But, control sometimes becomes abusive if it ignores love and respect for the other.  

As an example, if a husband says he would like fish for supper on Tuesdays because it is healthy and he likes the variety in his  diet, then his wife has two choices.   Make every effort to provide the fish supper, or simply ignore his request as insignificant or preposterous or "controlling".   If she makes every effort to provide the fish supper, but misses it once due to forgetfulness, or budget, or lack of time, then the husband has two choices.  He can immediately forgive her, knowing she has his interests at heart, or he can complain and whine and accept no excuses, accusing her of wilful carelessness.   The way his simple request is handled, gives some idea about who is trying to control who.  The way about how a "miss" is handled, also gives some idea about whether the request is a reasonable control vs an abusive control.   The situation provides an example of respect for the husbands request, and of love for the wife's efforts. 

Not every request by a husband or wife will seem reasonable to the other.   This is because people are different.   So there will always be some conflict.  But just because a conflict does not end in physical violence, does not mean that somehow there is no abuse.   Any unfair fight involves a degree of abuse, whether it is yelling, tantrums, walking out (ignoring), preventing use of the car, or withholding money, etc.   I'm sure you can think of more unfair, mean-spirited things. 

Physical violence is a symptom of abuse.   But abuse is more than just the violence itself.   Nor does abuse equate to "control".   Abuse equates to using unfair or mean-spirited means to attain selfish ends.   Both the husband and wife are capable of this. 

Our society makes an idol out of physical well-being.  For that reason, it has all kinds of laws and fines about seatbelts and bicycle helmets, with very few comparative fines and laws about watching pornography, or using bad or abusive language.  If your skin is scratched, it is bad;  if your mind and emotions are damaged, well, not quite so bad. 

How does this relate to our discussion here?   This discussion centers on physical violence.   But men and women largely look at physical violence differently.    Men are drawn to it.   This is why they like to watch football games and hockey games.   Bodies smashing against each other.   Feats of strength and physical contact.   Ultimate fighting.  Boxing.  Wrestling.  Car derbies.   glorious!  

Women tame them down.   And so they have to keep violence in control, within boundaries.   The main boundary is not to hit a woman.  Basic.   But when they themselves are hit or physically abused in some way by a woman, they regard that as unpleasant, but permissable.   They can take it.  They are tough enough.   They wouldn't whine and complain about it, because it would make them less of a man to do so.   Only a few make an issue of it.  

Even physical abuse by other men often gets downplayed and ignored for the same reason, unless it is very serious and repetitive.   I can think of several instances from childhood where school boys have physically abused others, which everyone simply accepted and kept quiet about.   It was just a fight.   Or it was just a bunch of guys trying to teach someone a lesson.   Or some guys trying to prove they were tough.   So from my experience, physical violence is considered very differently between most men and women.  For this reason, you have different reporting of similar type incidents. 

As Shawn pointed out, statistics indicate that men are as likely to be physically abused as women.   But because they are tougher in general, and refused to seek protection, and usually have sufficient resources, and usually don't feel their children are threatened, they will not seek shelters, even if they were available.   They might seek counselling, but even counselling is merely a confirmation of their inadequacy, and an admission that they are affected by the blows of a woman, so that will be a last resort.

@ M. Laura Kooger

I do not follow your last comment on myth and men’s shelters.  I suspect it is sarcasm in response to my previous comment regarding my belief that it is myth that domestic violence is a situation of mainly male offenders.   

It is obvious from your comments that you and I have two polar opposite views on Domestic Violence and on God’s place in that equation of violence for that matter.  I believe violence does not have a gender and your comments suggest that it is a matter of men offending women with few exceptions.

I respectfully disagree. We have known for several decades without promoting the facts within studies such as Steinmetz 1978; Straus, Gelles and Steinmetz 1980 & Straus 1997; which show clearly that females physically assault partners in marital, cohabiting, and dating relationships as often as males assault their partners. 

You point out that there are no shelters for battered husbands as proof that there are no victimized husbands.  Before the sixties there were no shelters for battered wives either but that did not mean we did not have female victims of domestic Violence.  It simply meant women did not have a designated resource to reach out to when they were victimized the same as men have few if any designated resources available to them today either within society or within the body of Christ.

The fact that our society has chosen not to recognise equality of the genders except in situations where it benefits the agenda of that gender, does not change the fact that violence does not discriminate and that as a Christian community we should not discriminate either. 

Where in my participation of acceptable discrimination am I emulating Christ’s teachings or actions….

Where is God’s redemptive love and forgiveness in my promotions of this worldly belief…. 

These are just two of the questions I had to look at over the years in my walk with the countless victims of violence who I have had the privilege to journey with as they found their voice and stepped into Survivorship.  Through prayer and self-evaluation of my own biases I was able to honestly answer these questions.  Doing so has freed me to help other victims of violence to make the decision to leave the life hatred and anger of unforgiveness in victimization behind, and to seek out the redemptive healing of Christ Jesus.  I respect the fact that you believe and experience the topic of Domestic Violence differently than I do and I strive to maintain my belief and understanding without condemning or belittling with sarcasm yours or others beliefs.  I expect the same in return if we are to debate and learn from our differences and experiences.

NOTE:  I seldom use statistics as they are typically generated to promote a specific finding that favors a specific agenda.  I do so in the matter because the studies were conducted by/in partnership with a female working in the anti-violence community. 

Myth?  are you serious?  I guess that's why there are so many men's shelters around the country for battered men?  I thought this was a serious discussion. 

His expertise and his studies all focus on "Male as offender in violence against women' model.  The fact that he notes it is possible to step outside of that model does not qualify as speaking to domestic violence as a whole.  As for the myth that it is a situation of mainly male offenders I disagree.  The fact that male victims have nowhere to come forward to for treatment or recourse does not change the fact that they are victimize but unaccounted for.  

Gratefully we serve a God who is bigger than abuse, bigger than gender, bigger than stigma and myth, bigger than discrimination and can change anyone’s heart.  He loves each of us and wants each of us to glorify Him when we witness His love in action on those who we weak sinners deem unchangeable.  I think I must amuse God some days with my weaknesses and my attempts to shoved Him into a mold of my design rather than my following His design.

 

Bancroft does not exclude violence against men or in same sex partners.  One of the first things he says in the book is that the book is written as women as the victim as this is most often the case.  He goes on to say that evidence proves the same actions happen against men and in same sex partners.

Lundy Bancroft has and does tremendous work in the area of Male Offenders of Violence Against Women.  This woul dgive one point of view into the violence but does not speak to Domestic Violence as a whole because it excludes male victims and/or female offenders. 

I believe we have a book of Gods word which provides us with everything we need to know about how to overcome but we often choose not to look to it preferring to look elsewhere for our answers.  I think I purchased every self help book there was for most of my life all the while ignoring Gods book.

Violence knows no gender and is a hater of forgiveness.  I firmly believe having Survived violence that forgiveness is the only solution to violence and only God, through Christ Jesus can offer us forgiveness..... as I forgive others.

@John

My wife Lucie and I watched a series on "Love & Respect" a couple years back and for us it spoke truth.  I love my wife to the point of distraction and I know she does me as well.  I also know, that while I cherish her love for me it is nothing if I do not have her respect whereas she has said many time.... "Go ahead and respect me all you want but it better come with a whole lot of loving words and actions"  ha ha  God did design us differently wether we like it or not.  Blurring the lines will not change that reality.

 

A controlling man can never give his whole heart to Jesus.  That would require a loss of control and a requirement to follow God's word.  In a controlling man, love is conditional.  I will love you if... If you cared about me, you would do... and the list goes on and on for a lifetime.  God can heal an abusive man if the abuser is willing to change.  That rarely happens in real life.

To fully understand how an abusive, controlling man behaves, read Bancroft's book "Why Does He Do That?"  You will find that man in this book and finally begin to understand why he does what he does. Bancroft has spent over 20 years working with thousands of abusers.  He knows whereof he speaks.

I find most speakers on the subject of abusive and controlling men talk a good talk but unless they have worked with abusers, it doesn't mean a lot.  They simply don't get that a man can behave like this for years and years and not want to change.  It's all a big smoke screen with him controlling the smoke.  I didn't get it and I lived it... for decades.

I heard a recent sermon on Ephesians 5.  I've heard similar ones before, but this one was very specific and explicit.   It was a sermon by Mark Driscoll as part of his marriage series.   Ephesians 5 provides an answer and a solution to abuse, but only if people are really interested in making God the priority in their lives.   Only if they are interested in living by God's word rather than by their own ideas and desires.  

Ephesians 5 says that man is head of the wife.   If the household is not going well, it is the man's fault primarily.   Sometimes men use this as an excuse to abuse, since they feel the guilt of an inadequate or disharmonious household.  But when they abuse, they are ignoring the command to love their wives, which is part of the same chapter.  The chapter does not say that the man and woman can negotiate who is head;  it is simply the man.   The choice is not who is the head, but does the man do it well or poorly.  If he does not love his wife, and does not show her and prove to her that he loves her, he is leading poorly.   This means a man who abuses his wife is leading very poorly.   He is demonstrating poor behaviour and poor leadership.   Primarily he is simply demonstrating a lack of love. 

On the other hand, this chapter says that a woman must respect her husband.   A woman might assume that her love for her husband means she must take over his role of leadership.   But she would be wrong.   This would demonstrate a lack of respect, which is more important to a man even than her love.   Her love without respect would diminish him, make him smaller and less significant, and thus would be regarded as a false love or an insincere love.   The simple attempt to assume leadership would be a measure of abuse, since it abuses his honor and self-respect.   The ways in which this is done, such as to imply that he is incompetent, or that he does not have the mental capacity or knowledge, or that he will not be respected by others, or that he doesn't know how to plan, etc., are the beginnings of a process of abuse.    In some cases, physical abuse or sexual abuse (denying sexual intimacy) are ways of driving home this point.   Threats, arguments, even tantrums are sometimes used to drive the man to submission.   But the basic problem is the lack of respect. 

Mark Driscoll points out that the man is head of the wife (and the household), but the wife is the referee.    He decides when he is being respected, and the wife decides if she feels loved.   This is part of the mutural submission of one to another.   When this is done well, then abuse can be removed from the situation.   Then love for each other is real and respect for each other will work.   And both will be happier!  

Agreed; it is very difficult to understand that concept. Unfortunately, it is true with many abusive, controlling men. They do not want to change as they would have to give up that control. Everytime my spouse was in counselling and making progress (I thought), he quit as soon as he was required to actually DO something about his controlling behaviour. It has taken me decades to understand this. I thought he would want to be a better husband and father; I know now that was not of interest to him at all. As long as his needs were met, everything would run fairly smoothly in our home but his needs were often at odds with what was best for our children and family.

I have great difficulty understanding the belief that the abuser does not want to change.  To think that she "enjoys the power and control too much to change" says that she does not experience the separation from God that spiritual illness brings.   In this matter of domestic vilence; the spiritual illness is her violence against her spouse.

The best resources are Lundy Bancroft's books; I finally understood WHY and realized it was his choice and I could not change him no matter how hard I tried.  He doesn't want to change as he (read abusers) like the power and control and refuse to give it up.

I am very excited to be working with Safe Church Ministry. I have been involved with Safe Church for about 13 years. I have been a team member in Classis Northern Michigan and more recently been the Advocate.  In addition to my work with Safe Church, I will continue working part time in Cadillac, MI as a Licensed Professional Counselor. I am married (to a pastor) and have 3 children and 1 grandson. In my spare time I like to knit, read and travel. One of the areas I would like to work on in Safe Church Ministry is educating on the need for church leaders to healthy boundaries and to be aware of their own vulnerabilites. I also feel strong about bringing Safe Church principles to other CRC agencies. I look forward to my work. Please feel free to contact me, if I can be of support.

Blessings,

Alicia Mannes

amannes@crcna.org

Shawn,

Thanks for the reminder that males can also be victims of domestic violence. As a licensed counselor I have worked with men who have been victims. We will continue to seek out resources for men as well. Thank you for your vulnerability.

Alicia Mannes

Safe Church Associate

Hi Shawn, The Network has Blog and Forums. Blogs are usually written by the Network Guide (myself) or a designate, or guest blogger. Not everyone can post a blog. Network Forums, on the other hand, allow any member of the Network to ask a question and respond to it. As a Network Guide, I post a weekly blog but anyone can start a discussion on the Forum with or without my involvement, and we encourage people to do so. I want to encourage forum discussions, but I do not get alerts when a discussion begins, so I may not always respond when a discussion about a safe church topic is taking place. When people respond to a blog I have authored, I do get an immediate email alert. Forum discussions, however, may not come to my attention until someone sends me a message or when I have the opportunity to view the page and notice that there has been some activity. Thanks so much for your understanding.

Hi Shawn, I will most certainly cover a wide variety of resources in upcoming blogs. I was pleased to attend a session sponsored by my classis that featured a guest speaker and researcher from the Rave Project. So I decided to highlight this topic this week, and that is why I have featured the Rave Project website. If you have suggestions for other resources, I welcome you to post them! Sometimes people post other resources in response to a blog. Thanks

Hello Rachel: Thanks for sharing and for looking to promote the topic in your upcoming blog.  For those of us who are not that computer savvy…. I take it this is not your blog site?  If so, where do we go to read your blog and guest blogger writings?

I believe input in this from both you and Bonnie will help keep the thread alive but I fear I am less hopeful when it comes to the question the topic asked and which was reiterated by the Poster.  I believe our silence and refusal to attempt an answer is in fact, our answer.  That being no, we are not doing anything in our Churches for male victimization.  I suspect the shame I feel typing that answer is the same others experience and this is why the question has not been answered.  I would love to be corrected on this.

Personally I find the struggle in society as a victim/Survivor to locate services to be discouraging but I have to admit, the fight to be acknowledged within the Christian community is even more difficult.  Fighting myths, stereo-types, inaccurate information, agenda movements and sexism are not issues male victim/Survivors should be fighting within the body of Christ. 

I pray the veils be lifted from each of us and we begin to see the needs of people hurting first before we see the gender of the person.  I truly believe this is how Christ would act.

Remain blessed;

Shawn 

 

Welcome Alicia:

I hope your expereince with Safe Church is one which brings you to a new and broadened understanding of Church.

 

Remain Blessed;

Shawn

Another great topic which needs discussion.  Do you think it is possible to broaden your resourses to include a resourse for male victims of domestic violence.   The RAVE Project does speak to male victimization but only those in same sex partnerships.  For hethrosexual men in the Christian community.... what resourses do you suggest?

 

Thanks

Shawn

Thanks for a great posting.

Hi Everyone - Thank you for this lively discussion! I just wanted to let you know that I will be featuring this topic in an upcoming blog with a guest blogger to give this topic more attention and to raise awareness in our church communities. Thanks everyone for sharing your perspectives.

Thanks for your thoughts Bonnie. Indeed, the CDC is a credible source, but as a male survivor, it is not affirming nor adequately forthcoming about the abuse rates of boys/males. Please understand how difficult this kind of rhetoric can be for male survivors who are overwhelmingly castigated in the abuse literature as "he" (= the abuser).

Further, such sites have nothing to offer for the practical and theological concerns of churches who are called to address this in a redemptive manner as well. Only the Church is talking about real forgivenss, restoration, and reconciliation, in addition to facing the horror of the data.

I'm also working with 1in6.org. and GRACE.org. These should be consulted as well. Few sites focus on the needs of male survivors. So, again I ask, where are the ministries in our churches addressing male sexual abuse?

Again, thanks for your thoughts, Bonnie.

Andrew

Rachel,

Thanks for any time you can give. I can completely identify with your frenetic schedule! Thanks also for your gracious response. To all fellow writers, please be gracious in your comments. Some times we who are survivors can be curt and suspicious of others--let's be aware of that. 

Thanks for your ministry in holding up this issue, Rachel.

Blessings, Andrew

I am glad you weighted in on the topic Bonnie for two reasons.  Certainly I think it is important that the Guide and Director speak to the topic if the time allowed but also and more importantly, I think you and Rachel commenting will help keep the thread active.

Stay blessed

"I am curious why we are not hearing from the Director of Safe Church Ministry Bonnie Nicholas or the Safe Church Guide Rachel Boehm on this issue.  Is it not directly speaking to the susposed failings and/or needs for improvement within the Safe Church Ministry?"

Actually, I just was alerted to this conversation taking place. Although I post a weekly blog and try to stay on top of any feedback I receive, many of us who are guides or bloggers have other occupations and responsibilities that may prevent us from checking the Network pages throughout the day. So please understand that our silence was not due to lack of concern for the issue. Even now, at the end of a long work day and after attending to other family responsibilities, I have not had time to read the trail sufficiently to make an informed comment on it, but I wanted to take a moment to encourage you to continue to raise issues of importance to you. Thank you for your understanding.

Greetings, I was just made aware of this conversation, and admit that I have not read every word. I wanted to write a response with the little time that I have right now.

I'm very happy to hear about survivors (male or female) making connections with one another - there is support there that simply is not available anywhere else. When you discover that you are not alone,  that someone else can understand in a way that most people (thankfully) simply can't; it's a wonderful thing. And I've seen the Lord powerfully work in support groups to bring healing and transformation.

I would love to see churches providing these safe places where people can be open about what has happened to them and how they are feeling about it. Small support groups are a perfect opportunity for that, and a good opportunity for churches to help meet a critical need. Often times professional help is also required and should be encouraged. As helpful as professional help can be, from my personal experience, there is nothing quite the same as a support group of other survivors - It's a beautiful gift to those who participate.

I've led many support groups with survivors over the years - which eventually led me to write "Bethesda: Come to the Water", a bible study guide for women who are hurting. It can be ordered from Faith Alive http://www.faithaliveresources.org/Products/151098/bethesda-come-to-the-...
 Perhaps there are similar resources for men's groups?

I have missed leading those groups in the busyness of my current position. My focus has shifted a bit to education and prevention - to prevent abuse before it happens seems the best strategy to me. If we can prevent even one child from experiencing the deep pain of abuse; that is good work. The Circle of Grace Program currently being promoted is the best tool that I'm aware of for abuse prevention in churches. It transcends gender stereotypes and emphasizes the infinite value of each and every person, and God's presence with each of us always in our 'circle of grace'.

Blessings to you and your work with survivors.

PS - Even with a focus on prevention, we must realize that our churches are filled with people who have been hurt by abuse and we need to respond well, with compassion, with justice, and with opportunities for healing for all parties. Studies show that the incidence of abuse in churches is not that much different than the general population. I always recommend using the most reliable statistics available - In the US, I like to use Center for Disease control stats (http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/) as these tend to be more comprehensive and less skewed than those published by organizations that have a specific agenda.

I would not have thought that Bonnie would need to be notified or a request made to her personally to comment on a topic concerning Safe Church which she is the Director of.  I also believe it only reasonable to think Rachel would comment on the topic rather than let the thread die off.   It is again a topic which I believe speaks to the Safe Church Ministry and their commenting as they have in other topics on Safe Church would help keep the topic running.  It is a legitimate comment.

I also feel asking why a Pastor does not feel safe enough in a Christian web site to speak without creating an anonymous profile is legitimate.  We as Christians are doing something terribly wrong if Christians do not feel safe with other Christians and certainly if a Pastor has to hide behind anonymity.

Has anyone even alerted Bonnie to the fact that this discussion is happening? Or asked for a comment? I would never have expected her to weigh in on this unless there were some way that she were personally being notified/invited.

As to the anonymous pastor, is that on a different thread? Perhaps I have no need to know the context of that statement. But I can imagine a pastor posting political and personal thoughts anonymously if he/she served a congregation that would be offended by even having their pastor ask the question. You still want to have the dialogue with people who are willing to go there but not if it is going to be detrimental to other parts of your ife and/or ministry.

I am curious why we are not hearing from the Director of Safe Church Ministry Bonnie Nicholas or the Safe Church Guide Rachel Boehm on this issue.  Is it not directly speaking to the susposed failings and/or needs for improvement within the Safe Church Ministry? 

I also need help understanding why a Pastor would choose to create an anonymous profile and name on a Christian web site? This in truth I find very disturbing.

Blessings;

Shawn

Thanks for sharing your story with us, and what you've going through in your healing journey. As I've noted, I sense your pain and frustration. Now...to redeem it for the sake of Christ's body.

When Christian leaders normalize the discussion of sexual abuse, through sensitive sermons, teaching classes, leadership training, seminars, printing literature, placing quality books in a library, it only reinforces what we know in church work--survivors often approach their church leader(s) first. A risk assessment must be done to determine when/if that person needs more specialized help.

Let's continue to bring healing to abused men (and women). I meet with my male Support Group I lead tonight, called CHAI (Courageous Healing of Abuse and Isolation). ~ Andrew

I really like your analogy here Andrew.   "Pastors are first responders" who better to be the first responder  "" "

We need a "Like button" as on Facebook.... ha ha  I want to like this comment from you. 

Thanks for your response to my comment Calvin.  I did not mean for my comment to be taken so literal actually.  I took for granted that others reading would be able to read into it that I was writing/speaking with a generality.  I did not mean my comments to be seen as a “letter of the law but rather, the spirit of the law”.  I apologise that my comment offended you in any manner as it is not my intention to offend anyone.    I have been told to read and re read Matthew many times for my tongue!

To answer your question “How is anyone supposed to respond to such a question without getting defensive” I don’t expect that the person will not get defensive.  I know when I am confronted I immediately become defensive and I expect this of most people; it is simply my humanness reacting.  This does not mean I need others not to confront me.  How would I grow or learn if I am never challenged.  The fact is I need others to confront and teach me regardless of whether or not I may get angry.  What is more important the fear that I may get upset if you confront me or to leave me in my untruth?  I don't know Christ to have shied away from telling people the truth and neither should we with one another.  We are to sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron and we can not do that if we can not be honest with one another or if we allow our fear of the persons possible reaction to keep us from bringing the truth to him/her..

I smiled when I read your comment that you thought my goals lofty.  I don't see them as lofty at all Calvin and in fact, I  more often than not feel like I fail Christ miserably in my limited goals.  What you see as lofty I see as doing the bare minimum. 

I believe my goals and expectations are often blended but I don’t believe that my expectation on a church who represents the body of Christ is too high or unattainable.  I don’t believe God would have put it on my heart if He were not going to make it happen.  I am just anxious for the body of Christ to listen and act.  I know that sounds arrogant but I want you and other readers to know that I write it in "truth of my expereince" not in arrogance.  I write it as a boldness for the men who are suffering silently in the pews because they do not fit the mold of what we have decided they should fit into.  I write it for my brother who died a victim at his own hand because we would not listen to his cries for help as a victim and instead told him to go deal with his anger.  I write it for my mother who died an untreated sex offender because she too did not fit the image we as a society and as a Christian community promote.  I write it for the countless other men and women who are nolonger with us because they could not live in their pain and silence.  I write it because I believe it with the same conviction that I believe Christ Jesus is the living son of God. 

My truth is not an attack on the church or a ptting of anyone or any thing aginst the other.  It is merely my statement of truth as I experience it.  I respect that your truth may not be experienced the same as mine is for me and I uphold your right to experience the same situation as I have differently.  I am just glad that you came back into the conversation and I will be conscious not to speak in such generalities. 

I admire and appreciate your efforts to reach out to others one by one.  God has called each of us to do His will but He has called us to do so in different manners.  The hand working with the wrist.

Remain blessed

Shawn

One more quick thing. The main reason that I got into this discussion was to try and help you to get it moving. I heard some of the frustration in your original post and thought that if I responded, a discussion might get started. It sure did!

As I said, I may not understand the experience of survivors in other congregations. I'm a bit surprised by the responses you detail. Not that I doubt that they were given; I just don't understand what is going on in someone's mind when they would respond to allegations/reports of abuse in that way. I recently preached a series on Tamar and was told by a social worker that in many churches, this is an issue that is not normally talked about. I don't get that, given the number of people in our churches and around the world who are, like Tamar, living "desolate" lives.

I'm also the one who made the comment about the need for good listeners, btw.

I haven't seen any groups for victims of sexual abuse anywhere, including in churches. So I haven't seen any started by one person talking to another. But as an administratively challenged pastor, I don't think it terms of starting groups as much as I think in terms of putting people together. It is easier for me to have two people make a connection than it is to find someone to lead a group, find people (who haven't talked about their abuse) to attend the group and find material for them to study. I would rather see two people helping each other right now than hope for a group of 8-12 who are helping each other in the future. One more disclaimer: as a raving introvert, if I get into a group like that, I will probably just listen anyway.

I hear your pain, Andrew. I think what I am trying to say is that I simply have different goals and methodologies and hopes for how to bring about change. What I'm wondering (and I don't use that rhetorically - I really am asking the question) is whether some of the pain in the churches response for you is that you had your hopes set higher than I have mine. As a leader, I need to know not only how I would perceive my response. I also want to understand how others would receive my response.

[name?] I don't know if you're a survior, but there are experiences of pain, ignoring overtures, denying stories, avoiding testimonies, avoiding teaching and sermons, minimizing trauma, etc. It is not pitting anything against the church, it's calling the church to account for its history of innapropriate choices and added trauma that has often been placed on victims. 

Church leaders are called to lead, pastors are "first responders"--but many victims, male and female, feel like firemen blamed for the fire. Like the previoius person's comments about quality listening as a requirement for Support Group leaders, survivors have not been adequately heard. 

I'd like to know: could you name any churches or programs that have started Support Groups for male survivors by one person talking to another?

If you're not a survivor, you have the opportunity to be the Samaritan who crosses the road to help a crisis you know nothing about, but brother, be sure you're also willing to listen to the expressions of pain from us as survivors who are working in the church to change it. ~Andrew

I'm a little disappointed in some of the comments which seem to be pitting groups against the church. Granted, I haven't spent much time in churches or other settings where it would be inappropriate for a man to talk about his abuse. But I am always leary of the "us vs. them" mentality. For example, "How do you tell a Pastor or a person who has been a church going Christian for 40 years that twe need to invite Christ back into the church and begin to emulate him?" When has Christ left the church? And how is anyone supposed to respond to such a question without getting defensive?

Perhaps that is because my goals are less lofty than yours. When I read, "Maybe the only thing more messy than facing one's sexual abuse is trying to get 'systems', religious and otherwise, to face their role in the propogation of stereotypes that many men have to dig through.", I think, "But I just want to help the guy sitting next to me...not the whole system. I believe change comes in churches much as cancer enters a body - a little bit at a time. If you are willing to talk about your experience and you are able to help another talk about their experience, gradually you will have enough people who are open about their experiences that it would be almost impossible to make it abnormal to not openly admit your hurts.

I think the main qualifications are:

- the ability to invite - you have to get the people there to have the group before it matters what the person can do in the group. I think a good facilitator will be a person who is good at seeing needs in others and the courage to make the personal invitation.

- the ability to follow-up with people - once there, some will not want to come back...for whatever reason. The 'tator needs to be one who notices when people are gone and is willing to go seek them out.

- the ability to listen - 'tators don't need to have answers for questions as much as they have to be able to ask the questions that will get others to answer. If a 'tator sees himself as someone who must lead by their knowledge, the group will be centered around him and dependent on him. If he sees himself as someone who gives the members of the group easy opportunities to enter into the conversation, everyone will eventually learn that skill just by observation.

- a willingness to learn - there will be those who come to the group who will be able to teach the 'tator as well as be taught by the 'tator. Further, there will be questions that are asked that will require research in order for an answer to be found. The 'tator must be willing to say, "I don't know." without ending the conversation AND be willing to look for "answers" when the group is not together.

I think you get the point. The main qualification for a facilitator is that they have good people skills.

Thank you Andrew for your suggestions and insights on how to create a group.   Gratefully here in the Peel Region we do have a programs (such as it is ) for males who have been victimize and while it nolonger requires the male victim/Survivor to undergo offender based treatment; the program is still overwhelmingly gender biased in its content.  IE: The reality of Female Offenders is still not recognised in literature or programming despite the knowledge that fully one third of all sex offences against children are committed by females according to the Badgley Report on Sexual Offences Against Children and Youths 1984, the only Royal Commission National Study in Canada on the topic.

Along with this Government sponsored program for male victim/Survivors there are many more off site groups which are facilitated by male Survivors who utilise the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.  While this may not be the preferred path it is practical and it has proven itself to be beneficial and greatly appreciated by the men.  

Ideally the body of Christ would actively include male victims and their needs into the programming within the church but recognising that this may not happen for some time as we challenge religiosity and prejudice; I believe it is important that we recognise and support the efforts of organizations like Celebrate Recovery.  I personally believe are actively bringing Christ centred healing to many victims of violence and are doing so when many within the body of Christ are openly against their efforts.  Lastly there are Christ centred cell groups active in outreach to male victim/Survivors which has a recovery based on Christian forgiveness that is proving very positive.

The concern I have for my community is the same concern I have for every city and town where the body of Christ is represented in an organised church system.  That concern is for the teachings of Christ to be alive in the actions of the congregation.   I firmly believe that a non-judgmental and hope filled body of Christ is the first need of all victims of violence regardless of gender.  I accept that the dynamics in recovery differ in male and female victim/Survivors but I also know that God chose to create us differently and as a result, He understands those dynamics and our individual needs in addressing them.   

I am confident in this belief due to my own personal experience with Christ as the lead in my recovery as well as from my experience of working with other male victim/Survivors who chose to recognise Christ as their healer.  I have been changed and I have witnessed the change in other men and women who chose to give their lives fully to Christ and this included their hurts, shames and fears along with their honest desire to change and/or to be changed. Having a community of Christian men and women who want my recovery as much as I do is the first step to becoming useful to Christ and that is in my experience the cornerstone to recovery; being transformed so as to become useful to Christ. 

This being said, my question to anyone following this discussion is how do we bring the concerns of men and their needs to the leadership which is often blinded by the worldly concerns of the congregation such as: the need for a more eye pleasing carpeting or the tempo in the choice of music.  How do we teach the need to prioritize without alienating the leadership and congregation?  Scripture gives us instruction on how to address those who are falling away from the body but in practice, how do you tell a Pastor or a person who has been a church going Christian for 40 years that twe need to invite Christ back into the church and begin to emulate him?

Stay blessed;

Shawn

Greetings,

I think the question is an important one. But let's acknowledge something here--men's support groups basically don't exist. Rather sad! I lead one because I started it and I needed the fellowship and encouragement from fellow-survivors. So here's some thoughts:

> Find the backing of a church that "gets it", and the Support Group can operate alongside other similar groups.

> Require every male survivor to be in (or to have been in) counseling in addition to the Support Group. Counseling and Support Groups have different goals.

> Don't look for the "right" curriculum to run the group--let honesty, brotherly love, and Christian integrity run the group, discussing the issues the men need at the pace they need. The leader must understand this, and when to gently nudge the discussion on to other issues.

> Find some quality books, chapters, or video material to use, but Celebrate Recovery, in my opinion, is not up to the task of for SA groups. 

> For guys, you should have a fellow survivor as a leader; it's necessary to social and psychological "connection."

> Be willing to go at the pace of the collective needs. I don't believe the "12-step" model (at least time wise) is realistic. Think of a male Support Group as an on-going brotherhood of accountability and deep fellowship.

> Be willing to exercise "tough love" with each other. I think most male survivors are too afraid to talk about their shame, anger, and even how they also perpetrated on others. These are not easy discussions! So, male survivors tend to address the SYMPTOMS (e.g. anger, codependency, pornography, etc.) rather than the root CAUSE--their sexual abuse.

> A leader must be willing to be vulnerable at the level of his own pain, and lead in this expression of vulnerability. There is such a crushed child in male survivors, and each child must be handled with utter care. 

> Leaders should attend regular training sessions on various aspects of SA and healing. While the leader need not be a trained counselor per se, they will be lacking in vital theory that is essential to know. Issues like: trauma, family systems, male fears and social stigmas, and triggers a leader must know and be fairly on top of. 

> Leaders must be willing to face the "good cop vs- bad cop" reaction from survivors. Some survivors will always test the loyality of others, so they throw "bombs" out to see if you will leave them, too. It can be gut-renching.

> Find some quality web sites (and discussion groups) that can help with ideas, resources, and even offer speakers.

> Be willing work to host a conference on SA in your own church or via a number of churches--this has to be named. Be willing to give your own story before other standard men's groups that many churches have. Remember, about 1 in 5 have had some kind of abuse, but they need someone to follow in a healing journey. Older men, in particular, have suffered in silence (and God knows what else they may have done to cope!)

This is a set of ideas to begin with. I would seriously recommend any Support Group leader read the material in The Long Journey Home, a book also just listed on 1in6.org. This combines the theological and pastoral aspects that standard clinical discussions almost entirely avoid. In addition, there are discussion questions to every chapter, written prayers to help survivors, a massive glossary, bibliography, and a list of web-based resources. I had the joy of editing it, and I learned a ton!

Blessings brother. ~Andrew

Andrew or Calvin would either of you like to share what you believe are the qualifications necessary to lead men's support group? 

For the men who are following this discussion I suggest the book “Boys Cry Too” by a friend John Mark Clubb.  It is a story about his journey of forgiveness of his offenders and the redemption and forgiveness for himself as a Survivor of childhood sexual assault.  John’s story of forgiveness, his struggle to live today as a father, husband and friend to others are why I would suggest this read for others who may be ready to look at their hurts.  .

Possible triggers in reading Johns book are: homosexuality, alcohol & drugs, adultery, physical and sexual assault.

I do not believe a man who is just coming to the stage of opening up about his hurts is ready to facilitate a group for other men.  Christ did not begin to teach as an infant when he came into the world, Bill W & Dr. Bob did not start Alcoholics Anomymous while still drinking, and a Pastor does not learn to preach the word without having first read it.  We need to expereince recovery in order to teach others about how God walked us through it..

This being said, I certainly do not believe that you need a Phd for God to work through you any more than you need to be a Theologian to know God.  It is a matter of knowing who you are in Christ Jesus that is important.  Humility, honestly, courage, integrity, and a constant desire to walk with the Lord are what matter.

Degrees are admirable and I have a healthy respect for men and women who choose to further their education.  There is always a place for knowledge at any table where there is humility.  My concern with both church and society today is that we distinguish and esteem men and women based on the extent of their education rather than the fruit of their actions.   This is acceptable for the world but as Christians we have a road map in the bible on how we are to live and even more specific, we have a living example of how  we are to conduct ourselves as shown in 1 Peter 2:21 “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”

Learned knowledge is needed but the knowledge which comes from having experienced a similar issue and a commitment to living a life of Christ-likeness are truly what mattered to me in my recovery.   

Pages