Resources for Better Understanding, Preventing and Responding to Sexual Abuse

The links and phone numbers below are a sample of what’s available for better understanding, preventing, and responding to sexual abuse in a church setting. The intent is to help individuals who may not be good at googling get a head start on their research.

Disclaimer: Though most of these are well-recognized sources of information, the resources here are gathered, not necessarily recommended. If you’re aware of additional or better resources, do please let us know in the comments (or, if you’re too shy, the contact form).

National Get-Help Hotlines for Victims

Sample Local Resources for Helping Victims (Wisconsin)

Resources similar to these are probably available in your city, county, or state.

Resources for Understanding Sex Crimes, Legal Issues

Church Awareness/Procedures Training

Resources for Church Policy Development

Resources for Counseling Victims

Resources for Employee and Volunteer Screening

Resources for Researching the Scope of the Problem

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Bert Perry's picture

www.netgrace.org

Come on, Aaron, Tchividjian has actually put hundreds of abusers in jail.  He knows his stuff.  Just because there is a huge disagreement between him and your alma mater does NOT excuse leaving him off the list.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

T Howard's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

www.netgrace.org

Come on, Aaron, Tchividjian has actually put hundreds of abusers in jail.  He knows his stuff.  Just because there is a huge disagreement between him and your alma mater does NOT excuse leaving him off the list.

I'm not a BJU grad, but one thing i have not appreciated about Grace and Tchividjian is that they come across as, "if you don't follow all of our recommendations, you really aren't committed to doing what is right." Two of their recommendations in the BJU case were over-the-top, IMHO: BJU to build an abuse survivor memorial and for BJU to abandon a biblical counseling approach. 

Bert Perry's picture

Tom, one thing to note is that a chief complaint about how BJU handled things was that they tended to blame the victims instead of the perpetrators.  It is as if Dinah was told "what were you thinking going to visit the Schechemites", or Tamar was told "what were you thinking doing a nice thing for your half-brother?". 

If that's a Biblical approach, I want nothing to do with it.  Read the report; the claims are very clear, and it's moreover something that was very apparent at ABWE, in some of Paige Patterson's "counseling" of rape victims, the Tina Anderson/Chuck Phelps case in New Hampshire, and more.  Noteworthy here is that a big impetus for the BJU GRACE report was the Anderson/Phelps case and how she was forced to repent in front of the whole church for being raped.  It's a very real sickness that you can find all over in our circles--a hideous example is some of what Bill Gothard endorsed.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

T Howard's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Tom, one thing to note is that a chief complaint about how BJU handled things was that they tended to blame the victims instead of the perpetrators.  It is as if Dinah was told "what were you thinking going to visit the Schechemites", or Tamar was told "what were you thinking doing a nice thing for your half-brother?". 

If that's a Biblical approach, I want nothing to do with it. 

I haven't read the report since it first came out, but if I remember correctly, Grace recommended BJU remove the counseling textbooks BJU used in its counseling classes. I don't remember the report saying BJU blamed the abuse victims.

Jay's picture

Rather than rehash the entire BJU / GRACE discussion, can we just agree to add GRACE to the list of available resources and let it stand as another potential recommendation?

For those who are interested or new to the discussion, you can refer to these threads:

STATEMENT FROM BJU’S PRESIDENT ON THE GRACE REPORT

AN EVALUATION OF THE BJU GRACE REPORT

POINTS OF FAILURE - ANOTHER LOOK AT THE BJU GRACE REPORT

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Bert Perry's picture

Tom, the blaming was not in response to the report.  It was said to be a very common occurrence when a student came to counselors over a period of decades.   The report discusses this at great length, really.  Same basic thing as went on with Chuck Phelps, really, and same basic thing as happened with Donn Ketcham at ABWE, where Ketcham's victims were sent home, but not their victimizer.

That's why GRACE recommended that the counseling methods be changed--they were tending to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel in terms of the seriousness of the sins involved.  The fact that BJU didn't change anything will, in my view, tend to set them up for repeated occurrences.  As Deming said, "your system is perfectly designed to give you exactly the results you're getting."

There is a lot of latitude in figuring out how to fix this, but really for our whole movement's sake, we've got to figure out how to make it more likely that a counselor will see the big picture instead of getting bogged down in small infractions of the student code and the like.  The kind of thing that was noted in the report was that any investigation of the perpetrator of sexual assault would end as it was found that the victim had been out past curfew, in an unapproved place, or some such thing.  That's the same kind of thing as was seen with Patterson and Ketcham. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I have intentionally not put the effort into including organizations focused on investigating past alleged offenses. I'm not saying these don't have their place, but there's a tendency for all the energy to get pulled into what may or may not have happened years ago. It's very failure focused.

What I wanted to do with these couple of posts is focus on what all the ministries that aren't dealing with scandals can do to 

  • Avoid failure
  • Enhance their reputations as organizations that are actively avoiding failure

...in short, success/solution focused.

JNoël's picture

Personally, while I find all of this useful in various ways, I'm more interested in moving on from this 21st century sin-du-jour. Is it sin? Yup. Are the consequences worse than other sins? No doubt. But everyone keeps finding ways to capitalize on it. The media and society have chosen to make sex crimes the most important thing in our time. But, like cigarettes, it really isn't - it's just the popular evil.

The list of resources is helpful. Many (most?) will only go there once something bad happens to them, at which point it will likely be too late to get educated on the proper response. But I think we're all missing something big - a Spirit-filled Christian will respond to the situation correctly, even if the public doesn't think the response was correct. Incorrectly handled abuse in a church only occurs at the hands of leaders who are walking in the flesh. Favoritism, pride, and slothfulness are sins that can cause anyone to respond incorrectly. I'm sure others could be named, too.

So go ahead and get educated, by all means; it is a good thing to know the laws of the land so our responses our as helpful and legal as possible. But pray for your pastors every day, know how to biblically confront one who responds sinfully to a case of abuse, and don't stop loving the victim (or the pastor), regardless the circumstances.

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg (1720-1768)

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I think the topic of sexual abuse in churches and ministries is going to hover in the top-tier news on and off for a long time. It has already, and it will probably increase. One reason is that there is a widening gulf between biblical sexual ethics and our cultural norms. Widening and also more intense as traditional ethics are increasingly associated with hate and bigotry. With that comes a certain amount of eagerness to unearth hypocrisy in service of the narrative. ... not that there aren't real problems. There are. I'm saying there will be increasing scrutiny. This means it will be more important than ever that we have our houses in order.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I may be kicking a hornet's nest a bit on this, but maybe the topic of victim blaming has cooled off enough now for some movement toward a more rational perspective. In particular, some of what is denounced as victim-blaming (no idea how much, but I've seen examples, especially in criticism of biblical counseling) is actually victim-empowering. 

Read this for an example and some context https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/does-kamala-harris-think-women-sho...

Certainly potential victims should be told the truth about what they have the power to do to make themselves less vulnerable. For those who are already victims, the situation is more sensitive. There should eventually be a right time to say "You have the power to not let this define you/serve as the centerpiece of your identity for the rest of your life." (Just as true for men as for women... and just as true for other kinds of victimization as for sexual victimization.)

Bert Perry's picture

Aaron, per French, Harris' position is definitely dangerous, as she basically argues (with a lot of others) that warning people of likely dangers is somehow equivalent to blaming people for their own assaults.  It simply does not follow.

However, that's simply not what was described in the GRACE report of BJU, or the PII report of ABWE, or what Tina Anderson was forced to do by Chuck Phelps.  In those cases, either victims were punished for small infractions of school/mission/church rules while perpetrators went largely unpunished, or in certain cases were actually blamed for their own rape.  

More or less, it boils to how you define "victim blaming".   Harris says that if you tell any person how to avoid being a victim of crime, it's victim blaming.  Not so.  Actual victim blaming is when one tells actual crime victims that they are partially or fully responsible for their own victimization because they didn't heed wisdom on how to avoid being a victim.  It's a big, important distinction.

A word picture of this:

Harris definition: warning people not to drive near bar closing time blames the victims of drunk drivers for their own injuries.

My definition: telling a person who was hit by a drunk driver near closing time that he's at fault for getting hit.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I don't think I disagree with any of that (maybe I should read it again?) 

I don't think anybody is denying that some errors of the sort you allude to in paragraph 2 happened. And lots of apologizing.

You wrote...

Harris definition: warning people not to drive near bar closing time blames the victims of drunk drivers for their own injuries.

My definition: telling a person who was hit by a drunk driver near closing time that he's at fault for getting hit.  

I think you're right, and the analogy is useful.

What if the guy who got hit went out of his way to drive by that bar knowing that people get hit there all the time? Kind of foolish. It would be mean to point that out to him when he's recovering in the hospital. It might be mean *not* to point that out to him later, when he's driving again. (Assuming he doesn't seem to have figured it out already.)

So sometimes the line gets very fine between "blaming" and helping people learn and grow. And yes, sometimes people who are trying to be helpful end up on the wrong side of it. Sometimes deep into the wrong side of it.

I'm in favor of giving mental health professionals, and biblical counselors, and even politicians (sometimes... doubts about Harris!) credit for good intentions. 

Bert Perry's picture

Aaron, for not picking a fight.  :^)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I'll overlook it this time.

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