GC2 and Questions to Evaluate Our Expertise on Systemic Abuse and Sexual Violence

This article was originally posted as a thread in my Twitter feed. I have edited it to remove abbreviations, embed links, and add bracketed words for understandability. Otherwise, it is the same as posted there.

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THREAD: QUESTIONS TO EVALUATE OUR EXPERTISE ON SYSTEMIC ABUSE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE. This is in response to a critical question posed by Wade Mullen, in a thread about the December 13th GC2 Summit on Responding to Sexual Violence.

While I wish GC2 well on their efforts, I did post concerns. The past few days, new articles have promoted GC2. Meanwhile, many abuse survivors, advocates, and activists have reiterated concerns about GC2 individual, institutional, and ideological issues.

Rather than deal with those [concerns of other survivors and myself] directly, I’d like to post a series of questions on our experiences as survivors, and investigating sources and consequences of systemic abuse and sexual violence. I think these capture major issues we should know after a year of #MeToo and #ChurchToo.

See what you think about abuse/recovery/repair expertise we need.

How do you define “systems”?

How do you define “systemic abuse”?

What markers distinguish between “systemic abuse” and “historic/societal oppression”?

What do these characteristics have to do with sexual violence?

Spiritual abuse of power can amplify sexual abuse. Describe some doctrinal elements that abuse survivors say have been used to condition them for abuse? Directly silence them after they’ve been victimized? Indirectly silence them by influencing others to shame and/or shun them?

Describe some “impression management” and “image repair” tactics typically used by institutions to deflect responsibility and avoid accountability.

When these techniques are used to the further harm of victims, who holds culpability for them? Who might be complicit in their use?

What are key differences between “independent investigations” into a reportedly abusive individual or institution, and “dependent investigations”?

What do these differences have to do with survivors’ level of trust for the hiring institution? The investigators hired? The findings?

Name some agencies that abuse survivors have identified as independent investigators versus dependent investigators. Which ones do they seem to trust the most, and why? Which ones do they seem not to trust as much, and why?

Many abuse survivors fight against an institution’s preconditions for arbitration, conciliation, and/or mediation. What in these methods of supposed “reconciliation” do survivors find unacceptable? What biblical bases are there for “truth-finding first, then reconciliation”?

(A) Name some “broadband” survivor blogs that post personal narratives of survivors; accounts of toxic institutions from a range of theological streams, denominations, and organizational methods (polities); and analysis of theological elements that damage disciples.

(B) Same, sites that deal with leaders, organizational elements, theological dynamics of a specific situation. (Example: Recovering Grace and Bill Gothard/IBLP.)

What are some patterns A+B have identified for leaders disqualified from ministry? Toxic institutions? Harmful theologies?

How do we define a “safe” organization?

What comprehensive plan – or stages and steps – can our organization (team, ministry, church, non-profit, social enterprise) undertake to create an environment that is safe and sustainable, for both those who serve and those being served?

I have many other questions. But, I think this set covers major issues that have emerged over the past year.

After reflecting on them, how knowledgeable do you feel you are about systemic abuse and sexual violence? What gaps do you sense? How will you seek to address them?


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