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Guide for Responding to Sexual Harassment or Abuse in Congregations


This is the first time I've seen a guide for churches addressing sexual harassment and abuse that isn't only focused on that which occurs between clergy/pastoral staff and congregants, or child safety policies (focused on adult volunteers and children or youth).


This guide addresses any types of sexual harassment and abuse that can occur or be revealed within a congregational setting.


From the introduction, "Why was this guide created?"

"While churches are meant be safe places of worship, refuge, community and connection, we know that churches are comprised of imperfect human beings, and that situations of sexual harassment and harm occur with more frequency than most realize. With the rise of the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movement, more individuals are starting to speak about experiences of sexual harm in their lives, including in the life of the church. That said, those harmed still face many barriers when it comes to disclosing uncomfortable or violating experiences, especially within church settings. These barriers are often due to fear — fear of not being believed, of hurting the person who acted harmfully, of creating division and conflict, of an investigation, or of retaliation (to name a few). Most often, those violated just want the situation to stop and for the impact to go away.


"This resource is informed by the principles of survivor-centred care, recognizing that when the

needs of those harmed are prioritized there is a greater likelihood that healing will take place and

less of a likelihood that a formal, investigative process will need to occur. Adjudicative processes

that mimic justice system proceedings are rarely restorative for either party and continue to be a

barrier for reporting. While formal investigations are necessary in certain situations (e.g. clergy

sexual misconduct), this guide explores various ways to support individuals reporting sexual harm, offering intervention strategies in cases where the harm-doer is a fellow congregant."


I strongly recommend downloading and reviewing this free and comprehensive guide with your congregational leadership.


In Christ's peace,

Sandy

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