I am pleased to share a new online resource from Baylor University’s Diana R. Garland School of Social Work. In a follow-up to the school’s landmark 2009 study of clergy sexual misconduct, Baylor surveyed and/or interviewed 280 survivors in 2015 to learn more about how churches respond to complaints of clergy sexual abuse and misconduct. The research team, led by Dr. David Pooler, found that only 8% of survivors felt supported by their church after the abuse occurred, only 9% found their church process helpful, and only 7% of churches had policies in place to support complainants. Eighty percent of surveyed survivors agree that the abuse harmed their spiritual life. On the bright side, while only 35% of survivors say they have recovered, 78% feel that they are on the path to recovery. You can dig into those statistics here.
You can also find:
* A Best Practice Guide for church response, based on interviews with survivors
* A short article explaining why clergy shouldn’t try to counsel their congregants
* A summary of the 2009 Baylor study of clergy sexual misconduct by the late Diana Garland: how prevalent it is, how it happens, and how churches can prevent it.
… and much more, by exploring Baylor’s home page for clergy sexual abuse research.
Please share widely.
We have lost a great leader in this fight. Last night, Diana Garland lost her battle with pancreatic cancer.
Among Dr. Garland’s many accomplishments:
* As the Dean of Baylor University’s School of Social Work, she led its growth from a two-professor department to one of the leading social work schools in the nation. In 2008, Garland led the landmark Baylor University study on clergy sexual misconduct.
* She wrote When Wolves Wear Shepherds’ Clothing, one of the very best essays about the experience of CSM survivors.
* She was a powerful force behind the launch of Baylor’s upcoming study of church response to CSM. (The survey is now closed. I’ll share results of the study — led by Dr. David Pooler — as soon as they are published.)
I never met Diana Garland in person, but the few times we spoke I was struck with her warmth, intelligence, commitment, and generosity of spirit. She never made me feel like “just another survivor.” She made me feel like an important part of the effort. I grieve her death, but mostly I thank God for her life. My healing — and the healing of many survivors — is more complete because of Diana Garland.
In April, Baylor University renamed the school of social work. It is now the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work.
You can read more about Dr. Garland’s work at Baylor here.
Please keep Diana Garland’s family and colleagues in prayer.
Fellow survivors: if you haven’t yet participated in the Baylor University study of church response to clergy sexual misconduct, please do so today. The deadline has been extended for a few more days. Baylor is looking for female survivors over 18 who were at least 16 when the abuse took place. The survey is totally anonymous. Participants may choose to be interviewed about their experience, but this is completely optional.
You can read more about this study here.
You can take the survey here.
Thanks to all who have participated, and thanks to all who will take the survey this week. The Baylor study will help churches respond to clergy sexual misconduct in a way that promotes healing for all.
Please read this important letter from Dr. David Pooler of Baylor University, which issued the landmark study on clergy sexual abuse in 2009. Baylor is now studying how churches respond when victims report sexual abuse or misconduct by religious leaders. You may have already received an invitation to participate in the survey through The Hope of Survivors. If you are a woman over 18, and you experienced clergy sexual abuse at age 16 or after, I hope you will participate in the survey. Your experience could help many others. Although the study is limited to adult women, the results may lead to healthier outcomes for all victims and survivors.
Here is Dr. Pooler’s letter:
Your experience as a survivor of clergy sexual misconduct matters to us. This is an invitation to participate in a national study conducted by Baylor University so we can better understand these experiences. This important project is funded by Hope of Survivors and the Grant Me the Wisdom Foundation. It is hoped that this research will provide information about how churches and denominations can better respond to people who have been abused by a church leader.
If you are a woman who is 18 years or older and the abuse occurred at age 16 or after in your life, we want you to participate. There are questions about you, your church, and the ways your church did or did not support you. Below is the link to an anonymous Internet survey. We are not asking for information that can personally identify you. Your involvement in this research is critically important. Thank you in advance for considering this opportunity. Please note: This survey could take up to 30 minutes, so please set aside some dedicated time to work on it. We hope that you will benefit from knowing that your responses will help generate new knowledge and awareness around this important issue.
To take the survey click the following link:
Feel free to forward or share this link with other survivors.
David Pooler, Ph.D., LCSW
Associate Dean For Baccalaureate Studies
School of Social Work
Update, May 26, 2016: This study is now closed. Dr. Pooler and his team are analyzing the results and will present their findings this fall. I’ll post a link here as soon as I receive it.