“Not in my church”: when sexual abuse affects the congregation
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionDiaconia. Journal for the Study of Christian Social Practice. 2018, 9 (1), 53-72. https://doi.org/10.13109/diac.2018.9.1.53
This article discusses the self-understanding, role, and position of the congregation when a spiritual leader and trusted person are accused of sexual abuse. Basis to discuss three different positions (meaning the congregation as bystander, injured and upright) is to apply mainly a theological and psychological perspective to illuminate the understanding of these congregational positions. The three positions are revealed on the basis of analysis of empirical material. The research question to discuss is how can congregations handle sexual misconduct committed by their spiritual leader in a healthy and empowering way for their members? The aim is to explore a means inwhich the congregation canmove from being a bystander and a victim, to become a healing and empowering community for the offended and the offender, but also for the members of the fellowship. The three positions are also discussed as a possible procedural description depending on how the congregation deals with the challenges created among members by the accusations against their spiritual leader.