Church-related Abuse Research & Education Services

Lead contact: Marjo Mitsutomi

Upcoming Events

Seminar on Revealing Sexual Abuse in the Church
Ashburn, Virginia
October 11-12, 2019
Learn More


Recent Events

Symposium on sexual harassment and abuse in the church

Tampere, Finland
August 30-31, 2018
Learn More


Talinn, Estonia
September 6, 2018
Learn More

Redlands, California
November 8, 2018
Slides

#turvallinenseurakunta #tryggförsamling #safechurch

 

Our homepage addressed questions [What, Why, and Who] for The Sisu Advantage.  The remaining questions [Where, When, and How] are addressed below for the Center.  Personal experiences during my formative years, and lessons learned therefrom, have guided the creation of this Center.

Marjo Mitsutomi 

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From Where … does this Center find its passion?

What’s wrong with me?  I asked myself that question each time I had been assaulted by an older, respected, close,  Christian man I trusted. I was sure it was my fault. I felt guilty and alone. For decades I hid the secret from everyone. I was a Christian. An excellent student. An accomplished pianist. A missionary. A Ph.D. A minister’s wife. A professor. A pilot. A social reformer. Rather well-known in my circles. Yet, nobody knew. Nobody could have guessed my secret shame, which made me feel something was really wrong with me.  But, I knew. Otherwise, why would I have been the repeated target of sexual offense by these different confessing Christian ministers and leaders? Something was seriously wrong with me. That is what I thought. You can read how it happened here.

This is not a confession. I am done with those. This is a mandate to address the #metoo phenomenon in the #churchtoo.  A house of worship is a place where we expect to be the safest (#safechurch). It starts by spreading awareness and strengthens with everyone watching out for everyone else. If we believe in the beauty of man and woman having been created equal, we must harness that beauty well before it even develops into full consciousness. Sexuality needs to be addressed in factual ways that allow young, developing bodies and souls to comprehend what is happening inside of them, before it happens to them. They need to know that nothing is wrong with them at any point in their lives and they can be open about what is happening with some trustworthy adult, who is nonjudgmental. They must know that they will be believed regardless of who violates their boundaries or causes confusing feelings and sensations. Just because potential violators happen to carry the label “Christian” doesn’t mean that they have integrity or that they are harmless. I know I was told not to get in the cars of strangers. My mom didn’t warn me about my pastor!  Most importantly, sexual harassment and abuse in the church could happen to any of us at any age, if we are vulnerable enough, under someone’s power trip, being groomed or in their grip already. There are evil doers behind the pulpit or sitting in the pews with us who, when given the opportunity, will exploit us through their particular style of sexual and spiritual violence. So, there is nothing wrong – really – with either me or you. There is something very, very wrong with the abusers and the system that protects them. This Center was created to combat that system.”

— Marjo

When … can I attend an EVENT?

  • We offer occasional events open for the public.  See schedule at EVENTS page.
  • We offer private events for organizations and groups, upon request.
  • We are delighted to speak on these matters to church congregations
  • We also are delighted to speak to, or meet privately with, church leadership
  • We welcome suggestions regarding creation or participation in other events.

How … can we mutually BENEFIT?

  • We offer consulting expertise to organizations, agencies, groups and individuals
  • We offer events open to the public, and arrange private events upon request:
    • Conferences
    • Seminars
    • Workshops
  • By September 1, 2019 we will post online chapters of our book, in English
  • By September 1, 2019 we will unveil a new blog: mitsuMusings.  It will:
    • Address a relevant recently-released study, report, or news story
    • Add at least one new entry each week
    • Include a public feedback link
    • Offer a private link for you to suggest data 
  • You support our efforts by becoming engaged with the materials and events
  • You could support our cause by making a tax-deductible contribution HERE.

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There are multiple types of abuse (Typology) as well as multiple common settings (Contexts). For 2019 we continue the focus from last year on abuses experienced by women in Christian contexts. We are interested in the causes and consequences of this apparently prevalent but type of abuse and are seeking preventive and restorative paths forward.

Church-related sexual abuse, reported or not, are prevalent both in the United States and abroad. In 2018 we participated in a documentary film on the topic and offered workshops and conferences on this theme in the USA, Finland, and Estonia. We also initiated, edited, and heavily contributed to a book of readings on church-related sexual abuse.  The book recently was released in Finnish, and an English version is planned for release in 2020.