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Newly updated resource helps churches understand sexual abuse
June 17, 2011
Sexual abuse by church leaders is a topic many would rather avoid, said Elsie Goerzen, program coordinator for MCC British Columbia’s Abuse Response and Prevention Program. However, for those who have experienced abuse in this way, the effects can be devastating.
“Understanding sexual abuse by a church leader or caregiver” grew out of a desire to respond to the difficulties faced by survivors and churches in the aftermath of sexual abuse by a church leader. The booklet was first published in 2003.
Sexual abuse is often misunderstood and misnamed. Often, it is the victims who are blamed, rather than their perpetrators.
“Sometimes, especially in the past, this type of abuse was viewed as an ‘affair,’” said Linda Gehman Peachey, director of women’s advocacy for MCC U.S. “People need to understand that it is professional misconduct and the violation of someone in a vulnerable or less powerful position.
“If the church is to address such misconduct and work at prevention, we must be clear about what it is.”
The booklet starts with the Biblical text as its foundation and provides a clear definition of what constitutes sexual abuse by a church leader or caregiver. It includes a composite story of actual abuse experiences, gives tools to help individuals and groups understand some of the dynamics of sexual abuse, and provides a list of suggested resources for further study.
“The knowledge and understanding this booklet provides could spare so much grief in the church,” says Goerzen.
“Understanding sexual abuse by a church leader or caregiver” is available free as a booklet by calling your nearest MCC office in Canada at 1-888-622-6337, or MCC U.S. at 1-888-563-4676, or by downloading it at http://bit.ly/lxwByo. More information can also be found at abuse.mcc.org.
Mennonite Central Committee: Relief, development and peace in the name of Christ
“Understanding sexual abuse by a church leader or caregiver” and other resources on abuse are available from the following MCC programs:
MCC British Columbia – Abuse Response and Prevention Program
MCC Manitoba – Voices for Non-Violence Program
MCC Ontario – Sexual Misconduct and Abuse Response Resource Team
MCC U.S. – Women’s Advocacy Program
Canada: Elsie Goerzen, MCC British Columbia Abuse Response and Prevention Program
U.S.: Linda Gehman Peachey, Women’s Advocacy Program