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The Work Is Global

Nov 09, 2009 — Categories:

I don’t know how to work on anything but violence against women and children. I have no other skills. So it’s a good thing that I have a job where I get paid to do the one thing I know how to do.

I don’t know how to work on anything but violence against women and children. I have no other skills. So it’s a good thing that I have a job where I get paid to do the one thing I know how to do.

Since founding FaithTrust Institute in 1977, I have had the privilege of focusing my energies and my passion to end violence against women and children. Many people assume this is because I am a survivor of abuse. I have never been raped, molested or abused by a partner. I am only a survivor of the everyday indignities and public bodily violations that virtually all women share.

When I was in seminary, listening to women’s stories, and reflecting on my own extended family stories, I just had a strong reaction that it is not right that women be subjected to physical and sexual violence done by men. It makes me angry that we live with this reality all the time. So I continue to do my part to change the cultural norms that accept that violence against women and girls is just the way things are.

I just returned from Norway where I had the opportunity to work with leaders of the Norwegian Lutheran Church and Diakonia, a parachurch organization of deacons. I was very impressed with the work there on sexual abuse by clergy. Their work has paralleled ours for the past 20 years.

They have a strong theoretical base and theological foundation. They have done some very interesting research on incidence, components of erotic attraction and behavior by clergy towards congregants, and elements of investigation and intervention in cases. They seem to be facing very similar circumstances to those of the faith groups in the U.S. and very similar institutional challenges. They have been addressing the abuse of children of missionaries serving abroad as have several U.S. denominations.They have found some of our early resource materials and Not In My Church, now in translation, to be useful tools.

I met with the staff of the Church’s Resource Centre Against Violence and Sexual Abuse in Oslo. The Centre was begun in 1996 by the church as a resource to victims and survivors of sexual abuse of all kinds. It came about as a result of early activism by the Norwegian Association of Female Theologians and others who pushed the church to a real recognition of the needs of church members. It now serves as a vital resource for women and men.

So it was very exciting to spend a week working with these colleagues to see how the work continues and parallels that of FaithTrust Institute. We have much to share and learn together.

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
FaithTrust Institute

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