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The possible goodness of Godliness – Ministers' reflections on sexual abuse

Conference paper
Authors Lisa Rudolfsson
Inga Tidefors
Published in The 19th WAS World Congress for Sexual Health. Sexual Health & Rights: AGlobal Challenge. Abstract Book. s. 199
Publication year 2009
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Subject categories Psychology, Psychology of religion

Abstract

Introduction During times of crises and personal distress, Christian people turn to their ministers and congregations for support, comfort, and help in understanding what has happened to them. Thus, Christian congregations may function as an important actor in caring for victims of sexual abuse. The aim of this study was partly to investigate the readiness within the Church of Sweden to care for victims of sexual abuse, partly to identify needs for future work with these questions. Method Questionnaire data was collected from ministers working in the Church of Sweden. Thereafter, some aspects were studied further using focus group interviews with ministers. Results A vast majority of the respondents had met victims of sexual abuse. They reported an interest of learning more about how to disclose sexual abuse and how to care for the victims. There was a perceived lack of forums for discussing sexual abuse and lack of central directives and guidance. The vow of silence was perceived as restraining ministers from reporting to local authorities when realizing that a minor is being sexually abused. Conclusion Due to the serious consequences of sexual abuse, the ministers’ authoritative position, the professional secrecy, and the lack of central directives these questions need to be further studied. Cooperation between professions must be encouraged and an accepting attitude towards engaging in discussions about sexual abuse in the Church of Sweden needs to be further promoted.

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