Change is a word that is often used in today's society, and something that a lot of people are calling for in many different aspects of life. Real change can not happen unless a person or a group of people is willing to admit that they were wrong, there is a problem, and that they need to be part of the solution. I seemed to have opened up a big "can of worms" so to speak with my last post and I'd like to BRIEFLY discuss what change could look like for churches, schools, and organizations that have been dealing with abuse in any form in a less than perfect way.
I want to be clear that this is not directed at anyone, nor is it me offering unsolicited advice to those who couldn't care less what I have to say. This is just my perspective as a "victim" of this kind of horror who knows what it is like to walk the tough road of healing. These are things that from either my perspective, or God's perspective or both that would help victims in the healing process.
The very first step I believe is to ADMIT there is a problem, and stop trying to hide and cover the problem. Here's the thing...many churches have hid the problem to "protect the name of Christ" and in so doing have done much more harm. Abuse in every form is a major problem that needs to be addressed and REPORTED!
The second step is to seek to rectify the wrongs that have been done. There are many ways that this can be done, and I'm not going to go into every one of them, but a basic start is to ask for forgiveness and sincerely apologize to those who have been hurt. This would include a public apology if for one reason or another the victim was "smeared" publicly. I believe this would include doing these actions even for a victim who for one reason or another seems to "not deserve it". Let me assure you that no matter what a victim does the abuse was NOT their fault. Different people react to pain differently, and it may be that the person who has hurt them seeking their forgiveness could change the lives of those who have been abused. Remember you can't see inside anyone's heart (I Samuel 16:7 ~ Man looks on the outside but God looks on the heart).
It is also ESSENTIAL that any person or organization REPORT any instance of abuse. It is up to the police not anyone else to determine the validity of the accusation.
After reviewing the empirical literature concerning the frequency of false allegations of sexual abuse, Mikkelsen, Gutheil, and Emens concluded: “False allegations of sexual abuse by children and adolescents are statistically uncommon, occurring at the rate of 2 to 10 percent of all cases.” Mikkelsen, E.J., T.G. Gutheil, and M Emens: False Sexual-Abuse Allegations by Children and Adolescents: Contextual Factors and Clinical Subtypes.American Journal of Psychotherapy 46: 556-70, 1992.
Another study showed that children tend to minimize or deny abuse, not exaggerate it. (Check this site for more info) In order for victims to feel safe, and to protect others from becoming potential victims reporting MUST happen.
This is just a start...Part 2 will look at other essential steps to take...