Fighting Abuse in the Faith Community

Sarah McDugal talks about the how hard it is for women from many different churches and religions to come to terms with abusive situations, and the resources she is putting together to help them heal.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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this is an astounding statistic…in my church, with over 500 female, and probably close to 500 male, attendees, it means around 150 women, some of which i undoubtedly know, are experiencing sexual assault and domestic violence, while around 75 men, some of which i also undoubtedly know, are experiencing sexual assault…this is a massive problem…


This is exactly true — and precisely how we should interpret the statistics. “How many people in the pews around me every week, are living in some private terror that they are unsafe to disclose, or perhaps don’t even fully recognize?”

Thank you for sharing your thoughts!


so how should the average church member respond to all of this…how would we bring any of this up…are there signs a non-specialist can be on the look out for…

also, some of these situations sound like something city police should be called in to deal with…i’m not sure my church is eager to go down this road…but shouldn’t some of these perpetrators be arrested, and serve prison terms…

the other thing, do you think these statistics are universal, or are there areas where the numbers aren’t quite so dire…maybe not all churches in all areas have this kind of problem…

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Absolutely — many of these situations are actually illegal to be handled internally. In the USA, clergy and other leaders are considered mandatory reporters in many states, and the failure to report to law enforcement is a huge issue.

There are resources to guide untrained clergy and lay leaders through this process however, so they don’t have to do it blind. I have two books on this, as well as a sample policy for handling sexual misconduct - on my WILD website.

It’s important for pastors to recognize that DV and sexual predation isn’t their area of expertise, and to defer to professionals trained in these areas instead of playing God and trying to handle it all themselves, too.

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this is probably an area where women pastors would be more perceptive, and less likely to feel that they need to handle everything themselves…

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