Human rights, Social inclusion

Do not allow sexual abuse within the Church

Creating a culture of responsibility towards the survivors of sexual abuse and setting up effective mechanisms of prevention in the Slovenian Church.

Creators

Who is behind this?

Ingrid Eržen

THAT’S ENOUGH Institute of advocacy for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy in Slovenia

https://dovolj.je/?lang=en

Slovenia

Idea

Idea pitch

It’s time to remove all kinds of abuse from our parishes, church schools and other Catholic communities! It is necessary to create a safe space for abuse survivors to speak and be heard, and for the crime to be punished. We want to empower individuals, families, and communities to actively compel the Church to ensure zero tolerance and zero cover-up.

Where will your project idea take place?

Church communities in Slovenian countryside (parishes, orders, groups, schools, and kindergartens).

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

The widely spread fear that an uncovering of sexual abuse will collapse people’s trust in the Church. This results in ignorant obedience to Church leaders, an inability to face this painful topic, and ultimately denial of the issue. If there are any survivors willing to acknowledge the abuse, they face secondary victimization - the attack from the community. Some parishioners and even some Christian academics are convinced that forgiving the perpetrator is the right course of action. They expect this of survivors with a sentiment of ‘no one is without sin’ and ‘not forgiving is a sin as well’. Others are either afraid or disinterested and prefer to distance themselves from the Church instead. The lives of young people are being destroyed, and no one being held accountable.

Who are you doing it for?

It’s crucial to reach those people who care about what is happening in their local Church. They need to be made aware and empowered to demand fair and transparent treatment of their fellow parishioners - to allow them to understand that this action is not destructive towards the Church as a religious community. And that the actions of the clergy must be judged through reason, values, and legal norms of our society.
We wish to reach also those people, who have been victims of sexual abuse, and their friends and family, to help them carry this burden responsibly.
And finally, to reach children and youth who could potentially experience this abuse. To help them understand the warning signs and build their assertiveness so that in case of inappropriate treatment they can react immediately.

How do you plan to get there?

Our approach is based on building connections between survivors of abuse, who are often silenced, and those in the position to help them. We will use the method of raising awareness through testimonials of people with the experience of abuse. This process will be carried out on micro and macro scales-from empowering individuals to communal awareness and action. We will contact target groups personally, through visits and online channels. The goal is to reach a critical mass of interested people in different places that could learn to create a safe space in their communities where survivors can speak up. This way, people in different areas can begin to pressure decision-makers. Activities: Visiting abuse survivors and their families to help and support them;Organizing specialized lectures on the topic of recognizing potential signs of sexual abuse in children and youth;Create and maintain personal connections with individuals in various parishes or municipalities who help us organize events for groups in their communities with testimonials about experiencing and healing from sexual abuse;Organizing meet-ups for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy and thus beginning to create a mutually supportive environment;Renovate our website to become an information center where people can turn to for help and join the closed support group;Create documentary video content;Publish literature

What are the expected results?

There will be an open dialogue among intellectuals, different academics and professionals, aware members of the Church, policy-makers, and local as well as national government representatives that will lead to the creation of an independent committee tasked with researching sexual abuse allegations in the Slovenian Church. Consequently, Church governance will begin to take responsibility for the abuse that has happened under their supervision. Legal proceedings in civil and Church courts will reach their conclusions. And most importantly, the Church will change its approach to the survivors of sexual abuse by clergy, issue a formal public apology and create prevention policies going forward. The Slovenian church will become a safe space for children, youth, and all people.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

The knowledge of the modus operandi of the Church and the culture within it will increase the awareness of dangers that threaten children and youth in Church institutions. Aware citizens will find it easier to demand a safe environment from their local priests, bishops, and Church representatives. If they should require help or support, they will be able to access it.
The knowledge about the depth of trauma caused by sexual abuse as well as the consequent trauma of not being believed will encourage destigmatization of survivors and begin a conversation around this topic. Parents will find it easier to spot potential signs of abuse in their children, because of the knowledge that help is accessible - children and youth will also be able to tell their parents about any abuse they encounter

Why is this idea important to you?

Our idea grew out of compassion for those who struggle from clerical abuse. This has to be stopped, since the Church’s mission is to bring life and joy to people, not suffering. A priest who experienced sexual abuse started to raise awareness two years ago, soon joined by other supporters. Recently the institute Dovolj.Je was established, which currently consists of 8 volunteers of different professions. We are looking to expand and establish a permanent team of professionals. The plan is to educate at least one person at the Centre for Child Protection of the Gregorian University, and to join other such groups around the world (ECA Global).

€ 35000,-

Total budget

€ 35000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

travel and accommodation costs (visiting survivors) 2000 EUR
educational and accommodation costs (special studies for at least one person) 6000 EUR
event costs (lectures, rental costs) 2000 EUR
video production cost (recording and production, graphic processing, logistic) 9000 EUR
publishing (translating, ...) 5000 eur
IT and technical equipment costs 2000
social media work 4000 EUR
personnel cost 4000 EUR
office expenses 1000 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

How do others face the closed clerical environment that enables abuse of all kinds? How did they go about creating an independent committee for uncovering this abuse? Who initiated it?

Team

Ine

Idea created on April 14, 2021
Last edit on April 21, 2021

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