trauma

It's On Us, Too: An Open Letter to Theological Schools About Sexual Assault

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According to the Broken Silence survey (commissioned by Sojourners and IMA World Health), faith leaders play a key role in preventing and responding to such violence. Though a majority of respondents reported feeling ill-equipped to deal with issues of sexual and domestic violence in their congregations and communities, an overwhelming majority of faith leaders (81 percent) indicated that they would take appropriate action to reduce such violence if they had the training and resources to do so.

This gap is precisely why seminaries and divinity schools are essential to addressing domestic abuse and sexual assault. Your theological schools can and must take the lead on educating more faith leaders about sexual and gender-based violence.

Remembering Amiriyah

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This week marks 25 years since the horrific U.S. bombing of the Amiriyah shelter in Iraq. At least 408 women and children died.

As we consider what has helped fuel the rage and hostility of extremists like ISIS, we can point to concrete events like the bombing of Amiriyah. It clearly does not justify the evil done by ISIS, but it does help us explain it.

Weekly Wrap 12.11.15: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

This week's Wrap was guest curated by Sojourners contributor Adam Ericksen. Read along for his top stories and notes from the week!

There was a lot of negativity in the news this week, but mercy also filled the airwaves. In case you missed it, here’s a list of some merciful events from the week:

1. Pope Francis Opens the Door to ‘Year of Mercy’ in a Time of Fear

Sure, we have some differences, but we’re still crushing on the Pope. “To pass through the holy door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them.”

British Government Launches Sex Abuse Inquiry Focused on Churches and Politicians

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The British government is launching an independent five-year inquiry under the leadership of a prominent New Zealand-born jurist to examine whether private and public institutions, including churches, failed to protect children from sex abuse.

At a news conference in London on Nov. 27, Justice Lowell Goddard, who will head the inquiry, said the investigation would focus on high-profile allegations of child abuse involving current or former members of Parliament, senior civil servants, and government advisers.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby asked Goddard to investigate the Church of England first, saying that he would order his own inquiry if there was a lengthy delay, the Anglican Communion News Service reported.

How Not To Respond to Grief

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All of us are understandably sad about Paris — devastated. Many people have used striped profile pictures, candles, and flowers to express our collective solidarity. But in the wake of tragedy, almost half of the governors of the U.S. have responded with fear, announcing that they will do whatever they can to thwart the acceptance of Syrian refugees — from cutting funding for nonprofit resettlement agencies, to demanding religious screening tests.

If there’s one thing I learned from some of my friends who are refugees, it’s how to respond to grief. And there’s no one approach and they didn’t always get it right. But sometimes they did: Some refugees, in the shadow of shocking sadness, sang more than usual, prayed louder, invited more friends over for dinner, cooked their parent’s recipes. None of them responded with terrorism.

The Employment Barrier for Trafficking Survivors

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To leave the trafficked sex industry is to encounter many barriers. Among those is the need for employment opportunities and the opportunity to learn a trade while gaining skills to earn an independent income.

Consider this: A woman leaves a trafficker, through his arrest or her own personal escape. This trafficker created total dependence — someone who, amidst abuse and exploitation, provided for her. She usually had no control of this money, and gave over anything she made for his earnings. Her needs are met — but she is completely dependent on him for survival.

Then she is separated from her trafficker, and she has nothing: No income, usually a limited education, and at times minimal job skills to report on a resume. Her survival reflects her strengths and resources — but how does she capture resilience for prospective employers? What does she do when she carries a criminal record history?

One survivor described this experience to me, saying, “I look horrible on paper.”

Please, Do Not Let Paris Be Another 9/11

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Just like you, I was horrified when I learned of the terror attacks in Paris on Nov. 13. The scale, precision, and barbarity of these crimes are hard to fathom.

My first reaction was sadness for the victims and a desire for peace. My second was a sense of mild panic. If they can do this in Paris, they can certainly do it in my city!

My third reaction, one I’m not particularly proud of: I thought about how much I’d like to see the people responsible for these acts hunted down and destroyed.

I’ve been thinking a lot about 9/11 lately. I remember the way that we as a nation went through a similar three-step process. We went from shock and sympathy to fear and paranoia, and finally to the conviction that we must annihilate those who attacked us.

It all happened so quickly.

How to Listen to Trafficking Survivors

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Our initial vision included a basic goal of raising awareness and seeking to coordinate efforts for a unified response that would comprehensively address this form of modern-day slavery through prevention, awareness, action, and aftercare. But as our awareness efforts soon led many trafficking survivors to us, statistics and stories were replaced with personal, local faces that would need our help and in turn, would change our lives.

Interacting with trafficking survivors is a cross-cultural experience. Many of their stories are riddled with addiction, abuse, neglect, out-of-home placement, loss, rejection, and suffering. (And this does not even begin to address the culture of the commercial sex industry.) The language of “the life,” the rules of “the game”, and the many nuances of a relationship with a trafficker — whether known as daddy, boyfriend, boss, abuser, or lover — are only a few of the cultural differences for a woman coming out of the commercial sex industry.

As I sit with a woman who has secrets, stories, and experiences that are much different than my own, what can I offer? The world views her as dirty and as choosing this lifestyle. Others view her as to be pitied and a cause to be rescued. What does she need? What do we need to understand about women who have a history of prostitution or sex trafficking?

Recently I asked another woman this question. Separated from her trafficker for only two months, she had a fresh understanding.

Forgiving Someone Who Kills Your Loved One Seems Impossible. Until It Isn’t.

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The organization Journey of Hope: From Violence to Healing — co-founded in the early 1990s by Jaeger and fellow activist Bill Pelke — has toured 40 states nationwide and 16 countries overseas. Speakers include a woman whose father was stabbed to death in front of her and a man whose brother was executed by a Utah firing squad. 

The overarching goal of the U.S. movement is to end the death penalty. For some advocates, the mission ends there.

"They don't want to have the murderer over for Sunday dinner," as one advocate puts it. Not every story involves forgiveness.

But many do. In Tulsa, Okla., Edith Shoals, 67, is a victims' advocate for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and, on the side, organizes support groups for women whose children were murdered. In 1992, Shoals' daughter Lordette, an 18-year-old college student, called Shoals from a pay phone and was murdered in mid-conversation, shot in the back by a carjacker.

"Grieving's not a big enough word for what happens," says Shoals.

"But if you don't forgive, it eats you up from the inside out."

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