This post serves as an index to posts in the forthcoming series, “A Cultural Geography of Survivor Communities,” and to previous posts appearing in the futuristguy category of “Trends in Survivor Communities.” I have been working on some segments in the cultural geography for over six months, and hope to have most of the series posted before the end of 2018. The trends articles were posted as early as 2012, but often with observations and analysis going back to as early as the mid-1970s.
These are based on my personal experiences far more than theoretical research. As such, they are idiosyncratic — what I have observed, analyzed, and interpreted — rather than synthesizing the research of others. Still, I hope these resources will help those inside and outside the range of abuse/violence survivor communities to better understand some of the dimensions and dynamics involved.
~ brad/futuristguy, December 4, 2018
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“A Cultural Geography of Survivor Communities”
© 2018 Brad Sargent
Links to be added as articles in the series are posted. Also, I may end up changing (without notice) post content descriptions, adding new posts, or splitting a planned post between the background/theory and the real-world outplaying of it. I won’t know until I’m in the middle of them.
Introduction. This post shares some of my background related to archiving, cultural geography, and futuring, and how these disciplines come together in developing this series. In this cultural geography of abuse/violence survivor communities, I will attempt to capture the contours of topics and trends that I have worked in and around, some of them for over 40 years.
Part 1 – A Paradigm Profile and Cultural GPS of the Christian Wing(s) of the #MeToo Movement. This two-part article is the most technical in the series, but foundational to all else in analyzing this movement’s paradigm, problems, and possibilities.
Part 1A applies aspects of paradigm profiling, subcultural emergence, and social transformation tracking to the punk rock subculture and “emerging ministry movement.” This gives us a robust historical example as a framework to consider what brings people together into movements, and how things tend to change over time in it.
Part 1B applies these frameworks to give an initial profile for the Christian version of the #MeToo movement. I base this description primarily on my own personal experiences, online interactions, and other sources. It includes my initial analysis of key elements of common ground that unify this movement. I also identify issues where there are considerable doctrinal differences that may have the power to fragment the movement if participants choose strict conformity over stepped collaboration.
Part 2 – Confirmation Bias Much? When it comes to concepts about “systemic abuse,” what’s on our radar? How did those ideas and indicators get there? If we don’t detail our presuppositions when describing a situation we see as “abusive,” does that invalidate our conclusions? Are we only allowed to critique public figures or situation if we personally know them?
What’s on our discernment radar about abuse, and conflicts we have with other advocates over concepts, become especially relevant in the current #MeToo environment. There, individual and institutional abuse is being called out – but Christian figures are often behind the curve in understanding what this social movement means for the Church and survivors.
This post summarizes the common ground of #MeToo as a movement, and suggests basic reasons for conflicts among factions when it comes to the Christian version of it. It also include a series of questions that help reveal what’s on our radar about systemic abuse/violence, and where we may have problem-causing gaps.
Part 3 – Abuse Survivor Storying Systems. In this post, I describe key changes I’ve seen since beginning in 2007 to track how abuse survivors have been sharing their personal accounts of victimization, push-back, and recovery. It includes storying opportunities for abuse survivors, provided by six sources:
(1) in-person sharing,
(2) “survivor blogs,”
(3) social media platforms and campaigns,
(4) conventional media/news sources,
(5) conferences, and
(6) independent investigations.
If I receive permission from the parties involved, this post will also include an example of how one person’s sharing of their story created a pebble-in-the-pond effect that has already rippled out to reach at least two more rings of impact.
Part 4 – Investigations and Integrations. For nearly eight months, I’ve been trying to figure out a concept framework that helps organize what I’ve been learning about what constitutes an “independent investigation” into a situation of abuse. This is a significant concern in survivor communities, because not every person or organization that says they’re for “independent” investigations really are. And the results for abuse survivors who end up in some kind of non-independent investigation often find themselves with buyers remorse later.
My resulting framework looks at five different system integration points for investigations. It profiles the purpose, mission, values, and vision that each integration point naturally produces. It also considers what differences in paradigms can mean in terms of constructive or destructive impact for abuse survivors.
Part 5 – The Contours of “Watchblog” Communities. In a recently filed defamation lawsuit, James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel labeled the people he’s suing as “attack bloggers.” Are they really just attacking him for reasons of revenge – or are they simply attempting to reveal individual and institutional actions that have harmed people whom the church should have helped, and shine a light on the ideologies that drove them?
Blogs have become a significant source of investigative information for survivor communities. So, they have sometimes been called “watchblogs.” But are all sites that engage in exposés of reported abuses actually survivor-friendly? What are the contours of blogging among survivor communities – along with subcategories and the distinctives of each? How does blogging relate to various types of abuse, and what are important patterns and trends that we see among them? This post maps out contours of the wider watchblog communities.
Part 6 – Pursuing a “Truth Before Reconciliation” Process – and Identifying Shortcomings of Reliance on Arbitration, Conciliation, and/or Mediation. Not all aspects of so-called “investigations” are geared to serve survivors by finding the truth and rectifying the abuse. Some processes seek to silence the victims. Others effectively limit liability to the individuals and/or organizations accused of perpetrating and perpetuating abuse. Some supposed reconciliation processes ultimately fail the system of people involved by not preventing future abuse. This post offers several frameworks to observe, analyze, and interpret how dependent or independent an investigation is. This includes considering conflicts of interest, theological misinterpretations, and net effects on victims and perpetrators of various elements used by investigative agencies.
Part 7 – Evaluating Christian Agencies That Deal with Abuse Investigations, Arbitration, Conciliation, and/or Mediation. In the past few years, we’ve seen an increase in abuse survivors who refuse involvement in investigations or negotiations with reportedly abusive individuals and institutions that required arbitration, conciliation, and/or mediation services as a gateway to “reconciliation.” The previous post in this series laid out a framework for evaluating the inputs and impact of these various approaches to “making things right.” With that comprehensive framework in place for evaluating how independent an investigative method is, it makes sense to apply this to the organizations and networks that purport to conduct investigations into abuse. This should help people understand why so many in survivor communities have seen GRACE as setting the high bar for all truly independent investigative agencies – and why they reject attempts to use other processes and organizations that serve the hiring institutions instead of the abuse survivors. [NOTE: I will probably not be able to post this article until 2019, as I may be producing it with a team or at least with behind-the-scenes peer review.]
Part 8 – Some Analysis on the Current “Collective” of the Christian #MeToo Movement. Background history and sources of conflict in three evident layers in the movement to date: The Courage Conference, #ChurchToo, and GC2 Summit.
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- I may edit or add to posts, and will note that if changes make a substantial difference.
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Series on “Trends in Survivor Communities”
The following summaries and links are for posts that appear in futuristguy blog category on Trends in Survivor Communities. These formed the base for interpreting the contours and interiors of various survivor communities I have been involved with or have otherwise observed.
Trends in Spiritual Abuse Survivor Communities (2012-2016)
Spiritual Abuse Awareness Month: Emerging Issues, 2012 (January 31, 2012). For a few years now, January has been designated as “Spiritual Abuse Awareness” month. So, I wanted to post a list of “barometer” readings of recent events in the “spiritual abuse survivors’ community,” plus suggest emerging issues that help us identify indications of change in the cultural atmosphere on issues of spiritual abuse. This post considers changes to the number of support and resource networks for survivors of spiritual abuse. It also looks at four emerging issues of note:
- De-Churched Christians.
- No virtual pass for abusive actions by leaders.
- More “citizen journalist” reports with detailed documentation of alleged spiritual abuse.
- Expanding the concept of accountability to “system partners” that enable abusive behavior by celebrity Christians.
“Hangover Unholiness” Left by Malignant Ministers: Spiritual Abuse Recovery Questions for 2013 (January 29, 2013). I’ve been blogging on spiritual abuse the past five years, mostly on analyzing dynamics of “malignant ministers,” spiritually abusive organizational structures, and toxic cultures they create. Some of my writing has been on personal recovery issues, and it seems some new dimensions on this topic are on line for me to explore this year. Much of my practical synthesis of materials comes out of questions raised by personal experiences, and this year’s writings incorporate those, plus what I’ve been learning from the experiences of others.
For 2013, it seems my focus may be shifting to writing about organizational and systemic questions dealing with the aftermath of years of intact cultures of toxicity, and how to dismantle them – if they can even be salvaged. And what unique issues will be faced by multiple generations when they have been immersed in these abusive environments of faulty doctrines (e.g., authoritarianism, patriarchalism, legalism, perfectionism), and the organizational structures that institutionalized those anti-biblical rules?
Spiritual Abuse Survivors: The “Community” Becomes a ”Movement.” (January 31, 2013). If you read my post on ““Hangover Unholiness” Left by Malignant Ministers: Spiritual Abuse Recovery Questions for 2013,” you may not have caught the comment that came in from my friend Linda of Kingdomgrace. She’s been a pioneer blogger in the spiritual abuse survivors community, and I appreciate her big-picture perspective on healing for individuals and how this works out in systems. Here’s what she said: “Brad, Really good questions. It seems detox has mostly been addressed at the personal level. You are doing important work identifying systemic issues at the organizational level. I think there is also a social-cultural aspect of detox that exists beyond the organization having to do with social identity, relationships, group think, etc. Your questions reminded me of how complex this issue is and how comprehensive approaches to healing must be.” My reply covers some things I’ve been thinking about for a while on the impact of toxic systems dynamics, and I felt it was important enough to highlight in a follow-up post to the one on “Hangover Unholiness.”
Trends, Turning Points, and Tipping Points in Spiritual Abuse Survivor Communities (2014). Part 1: Setting the Stage (November 30, 2014). Part 1 introduces the overall framework I use for analyzing developments in abuse survivor communities:
- Trends – general patterns in beliefs, actions, and consequences.
- Turning points – noticeable course corrections for the better, or changes for the worse.
- Tipping points – passing the threshold for sustaining a trajectory in the long run.
Trends, Turning Points, and Tipping Points in Spiritual Abuse Survivor Communities (2014). Part 2: New Observations, Analysis, Interpretations (November 30, 2014). Part 2 shares a series of specifics in those three categories.
- Trends – survivors from different types of abuse connecting; and public apologies by people culpable for or complicit in abuse.
- Turning points – wiser crowd-sourcing of information; getting better at navigating legal issues involved in confronting abuse; and increased emphasis on prevention practices and starting healthier systems.
- Tipping points – interpreting from a systems mindset.
Spiritual Abuse Survivor Communities ~ 10 Trend Projections and Predictions for 2016-2020 (January 1, 2016). These trends and related predictions are in no particular order other than in when they came to mind.
- Four core false doctrines [word of faith, health-and-wealth/prosperity gospel, shepherding movement, Eternal Subordination of the Son], and three core toxic systems [authoritarianism, monetarism, patriarchalism].
- Networking is moving toward more collaborative action.
- Increased calling out of abusers plus their commenders, defenders, and enablers.
- Implosion of the Southern Baptist Convention and other ministry associations.
- Lawsuits against allegedly abusive religious non-profit boards, staffs, and membership.
- Child abuse prevention training.
- Organizational evaluation and certification for preventing spiritual abuse.
- IRS regulations and investigations on religious non-profits will change.
- Abuse survivor specialists in academic, practitioner, and ministry fields.
- Advances in trauma psychology and research.
Spiritual Sounding Board: The Legacy That a Defamation Lawsuit Left to the Survivor Community (February 22, 2016). Who would’ve thought that a pastor’s defamation lawsuit that seemed meant to intimidate and destroy former congregants, instead had the opposite impact? It sparked resources to comfort and edify spiritual abuse survivors. This post marks the four-year anniversary of the beginning of the lawsuit by Charles O’Neal and Beaverton Grace Bible Church (BGBC) against Julie Anne Smith and four other defendants. In that time, Julie Anne’s Spiritual Sounding Board blog has become a beacon for survivors of spiritual abuse and other types of abuse/violence. She has posted 920 articles in 169 categories with nearly 1000 tags to help in search processes, and tallied nearly 1 million views on the home page.
Survivor Blogging Trends 2017
Survivor Blogging Trends 2017: Part One – Past Articles (2012-2016) on Trends in Spiritual Abuse Survivor Communities (May 1, 2017). Part One in this series lays out the plan for blogging in 2017 about recent trends in survivor communities, plus gives summaries for each of the previous trend posts from 2012 through 2016.
Survivor Blogging Trends 2017: Part Two – Survivor Blogs Aren’t the Same as Discernment Blogs (May 1, 2017). Part Two looks at two issues I’m seeing as coming into the foreground.
- First, how critics of survivor bloggers seem to conflate them with discernment blogs when they’re not, and some thoughts on sources of conflict they have with survivor blogs.
- Second, things known probably just by those who host survivor blogs and write for them, about the reflection and restraint that goes on behind the scenes. [Teamwork, women and men working as colleagues, input from other survivor bloggers to serve as peer review/input panel, and some of the behind-the-scenes processes that go into discerning if and when to publish articles.]
Survivor Blogging Trends 2017: Part Three – Positive Trends in Survivor Blog Communities (May 9, 2017). Overviews four constructive trends that have emerged:
- Building of working relationships with news agencies.
- Accessing research/recovery materials through cross-listing, mega-link lists, indexing, archiving, categories, and tags.
- Increasing numbers of people conducting academic-level research, curricula, and trainings.
- Deeper discussions about systemic elements and issues that perpetuate abuse, including theologies, church polities, organizational insiders and outsiders who enable abusers, and toxic organizational strategies and structures.
Survivor Blogging Trends 2017: Part Four – Challenge #1 – We’re Working Mostly in Words (May 25, 2017). We abuse survivors tend to have a lot of issues to address in our thinking, feelings, and actions. Participating in survivor blog threads doesn’t automatically fill in all gaps in our understanding, or correct any flaws in our paradigm – even if it does offer us a community of people who get it about the trauma we’ve gone through. Many social media types are tough to use in talking about abuse survival and recovery, because they’re mostly just words in print. When the meaning of the words is ambiguous, “The 40/60 Rule” helps us understand why social media is stressful. According to that rule, only 40% of intended meaning comes from (1) the words themselves, and the other 60% comes from the larger context, which includes (2) tone of voice, (3) facial expression, and (4) overall body language. Since most social media works only in writing, that lends itself to conflicts beyond the content of the words themselves, such as dealing with “tone policing.”
Survivor Blogging Trends 2017: Part Four – Challenge #2 – Natural Limits of Crowd-Sourced Fact Gathering (November 2, 2017). In survivor blogging, a lot of the writers I know invest time in “due diligence.” They’re seeking to get their information straight – collecting as many facts and observations as possible so they can sort through what’s relevant to patterns that indicate abuse. As I see it, there can be a problem involving this critical thinking equation. It’s about the limits of crowd-sourcing additional facts, and discussing them. When a comment thread has reached the limit of factual information available, that creates a sort of threshold for when a thread tends to go off-topic and and gets more unproductive on the original topic. The ultimate impact can be a problem: The post (or the whole blog) loses readers who get frustrated with irrelevant comments and opinions, emotional reactions to the situations, and/or speculations. How could/should blog owners deal with this to keep comments on-topic and productive?
Survivor Blogging Background, Trends, and Analysis 2018
Forty Years of Trends Leading to #MeToo, #ChurchToo, and #SBCToo (September 5, 2018). This post begins with historical background on the #MeToo, #ChurchToo, and #SBCToo movements and hashtag campaigns. It then compiles a series of comments I made using futurist concepts and techniques on a post at The Wartburg Watch in June 2018 about the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the impact of abuse survivor movements.
- The STEEPER tool for the order things tend to change in for different social-cultural domains.
- Tipping points for change, and how deep-level change takes place through paradigm shifts.
- The big question of whether #MeToo and #ChurchToo are long-term drivers of change that will last 50 years or more, or just mere fads that will lose steam within a few years.
- Trends and movements of the last 40 years that set the stage for #MeToo.
Reflections on The Courage Conference 2018 (October 25, 2018). I attended the third annual Courage Conference, October 20-21. This post shares some observations and trends about survivor communities (on resources, gender equity, and racial diversity), plus some thoughts on how to process patterns and track social change. The section on processing patterns provides the base for much of the rest of this series.
GC2 and Questions to Evaluate Our Expertise on Systemic Abuse and Sexual Violence (November 17, 2018). 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. I wrote it in response to a critical question posed by Wade Mullen, in a thread about the December 13, 2018, GC2 Summit on Responding to Sexual Violence.