When in crisis or extreme need, people will turn to you, their Pastor or Minister because you are familiar or safe for them. You married their children, performed their baptisms, given them communion, and buried their dead. It would stand to reason, a victim of Incest would feel that their Pastor or Minister is a safe place to talk. Spiritual Leaders are held in high esteem since they serve, advise, and guide their congregants through traumatic and sensitive incidents.
Helping your congregants deal with Incest and Sexual Assault can be difficult; DON’T FALL SHORT!
Incest is a very TABOO subject. Due to the repulsive, offensive nature of Incest, people don’t or won’t discuss it; or the issue is ignored, as though it didn’t happen. Speaking about incest makes most people very uncomfortable. This is due to the reality of family members (usually girls) being abused by their own flesh and blood, who are supposed to love and protect them.
GUESTIMATION: Statistically speaking – 1 in 6-8 females in your congregation have been, or is currently being molested or sexually assaulted.
Incest is a National problem. Almost a third of America’s population has experienced some form of sexual abuse. With initial contact occurring before children have reached puberty during their formative years (ages 5 to 12):
- which affects their emotional stability,
- their identity,
- their beliefs, and
- social skills,
This population of America needs help to become whole. During the formative years, you as their Spiritual Leader can make an impact. Some of the abused population may attend churches, while the abuse is occurring. Church and Fellowship provides temporary relief from their situation at home.
Unfortunately, in order to protect their families, NOT to expose their shame, to try to MASK carrying the stigma of the incident, and to protect any future they may have, MANY women, men, teenage, boys and girls will not speak about what happened to them. Some will not speak, out of fear of being punished, or being blamed for the incident. Unless this is an immediate issue, your congregants may not voluntarily come forward. Instead they will display disruptive behavior, become withdrawn, and may not be able to explain why; but this is their cry for help.
Truly learning how to minister to these specific congregants takes time, patience and strength to understand the family dynamics, and how it affects the family in addition to the person that’s been victimized. Further, it’s also very, very important to realize when professional intervention is needed for everyone concerned. Yet There Is Hope!
Imagine helping a Congregant heal or make a positive change. You’re mending a family, building a future leader, a victorious testimony, and a means to Growing Your Church.