The Complex Reasons Sexual Assaults Go Unreported


The heated national debate about sexual misconduct has cast a spotlight on victims’ reluctance to report assault.

The issue has been at the center of some of the most high-profile cases in the #MeToo era. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center, a Harrisburg, Pa., nonprofit, reviewed studies by the U.S. Department of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as academic legal research, and found only 5% to 20% of sexual-assault victims report attacks to law enforcement. Read More


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#metoo campaign highlights the need for churches to receive additional training

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Suomen teologinen opisto (Finnish theological institute) on 30-31.8 will organize a #turvallinenseurakunta symposium (#safechurch), the goal of which is to prepare and offer tools for building safe churches. Abuse victims keep it their secret often throughout their lives that they have experienced sexual trauma. The Christian framework may add to the victim’s burden, misconstrue the victim’s perceptions of what happened … Read More

The Hope of Survivors


Denomination: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

Does the organization have a clergy sexual abuse policy in place? If yes, where can this policy be found (provide URL, mailing address if a copy must be requested, etc.)?
The ELCA does have a policy for clergy sexual abuse but each one of our synods creates their own policy. One would need to contact the synod for a copy. Victims can contact the synod office where the abuse occurred. The synod bishop is the person with whom a victim can begin a report.

How/where can victims or members of the congregation find out about the policy and proper procedures for reporting abuse? Is there a specific person or office to contact?
Safeplace (http://www.elca.org/Growing-In-Faith/Vocation/Rostered-Leadership/Leadership-Support/Safe-Place.aspx) and Safehaven (http://archive.elca.org/init/safehaven) are our sites for finding information regarding abuse and how to report it.

Does your organization’s policy include the abuse of vulnerable adults, as well as children?
Each individual ELCA congregation is responsible for creating its safe church policy. Our website offers guidelines and we do provide in-services to help but the responsibility is with the leadership in our congregations.


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SNAP: Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests


Footnotes

1. More than 6,000 priests and 100,000 victims
The U.S. bishops have reported receiving allegations of abuse by 6,115 priests in 1950-2011, or 5.6% of the 109,694 U.S. priests active since 1950. (http://www.bishop-accountability.org/AtAGlance/data.htm)
Experts at the Vatican summit in February, 2012 state that there are more than 100,000 victims in the USA alone. (http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/vatican-abuse-summit-22-billion-and-100000-victims-us-alone)

2. Admission from bishops that priests and bishops sexually abuse children:
Statement from Preamble of Charter for the protection of children and young people, US Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Since 2002, the Church in the United States has experienced a crisis without precedent in our times. The sexual abuse of children and young people by some deacons, priests, and bishops, and the ways in which these crimes and sins were addressed, have caused enormous pain, anger, and confusion.” (http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/upload/Charter-for-the-Protection-of-Children-and-Young-People-revised-2011.pdf )


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Callisto: Tech to combat sexual assault [Callisto]


The Problem

As we’ve seen from #MeToo, sexual harassment and assault are far too common and often never reported. Many sexual perpetrators are repeat offenders, but it is hard for victims to learn whether or not they’re the only one. Knowing that you’re not alone tends to change a lot – the way you frame your experience, your motivation to take action, the probability that taking action will lead to risk for yourself or protection for your community.

It’s time that we change the equation – by giving victims the options and information and support they need, by allowing them to disclose in their own time and in their own way, and by safely connecting victims of the same perpetrator together to validate each other’s experience and take action. We believe that by empowering victims of sexual harassment and assault, we can support their wellbeing and change the culture of sexual violence that has persisted for far too long.

Our Solution

Callisto is a non-profit organization that develops technology to combat sexual assault and harassment. Our online systems are designed to detect repeat perpetrators and to empower victims to make the reporting (or not reporting) decision right for them.


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U.N. Case Law Database on Sexual Assault [UN]


850. The Appeals Chamber notes that the definition and elements of sexual assault have been discussed, in various degrees of detail, by several trial chambers.[1] Trial chambers have held that sexual assault is broader than rape and encompasses “all serious abuses of a sexual nature inflicted upon the physical and moral integrity of a person by means of coercion, threat of force or intimidation in a way that is humiliating and degrading for the victim’s dignity”.[2] The Appeals Chamber notes that the Milutinović et al. Trial Chamber, after a thorough analysis, identified the elements of sexual assault as follows:

(a) The physical perpetrator commits an act of a sexual nature on another; this includes requiring that other person to perform such an act.
(b) That act infringes the victim’s physical integrity or amounts to an outrage to the victim’s personal dignity.
(c) The victim does not consent to the act.
(d) The physical perpetrator intentionally commits the act.
(e) The physical perpetrator is aware that the act occurred without the consent of the victim.[3]

851. This definition was adopted by the Trial Chamber in the present case.[4] While the Appeals Chamber is satisfied that this definition correctly reflects the elements of sexual assault (other than rape), it finds that some further elaboration is useful.


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How Common is Sexual Assault in the United States? The Answer Depends On Who You Ask [Center for Data Innovation]


By Joshua New

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Defense, Education and Justice oversee at least 10 different efforts to collect data about sexual violence—producing widely varying statistics that, on the surface, appear to measure the same thing. As a result, policymakers and the public simply do not have reliable, easy-to-understand data about sexual assault, which can have serious consequences for the effectiveness and accountability of the criminal justice system and hinder efforts to combat sexual assault. Federal agencies and Congress should take action to ensure that the public and policymakers alike can better understand this data and put it to good use in the fight against sexual assault.

After reviewing 10 different data collection efforts, GAO found that federal agencies use 23 different terms to describe an incident of sexual violence. These terms often overlap and different initiatives sometimes apply or define these terms differently. For example, the Department of Education collects data about crime on college campuses and defines certain incidents of sexual violence as “rape,” whereas HHS defines those same incidents as either “rape,” “sexual coercion,” or “assault-sexual.” Similarly, the Department of Education classifies nonpenetrative contact as “fondling,” whereas HHS describes it either as “assault-sexual” or “unwanted sexual contact.” Furthermore, the Department of Education does not collect any statistics about certain types of sexual assault, such as when a victim was made to penetrate someone else. These types of conflicting and overlapping definitions make it difficult to answer relatively simple questions, such as “how many sexual assaults occur on college campuses?”


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