|Rev. Dr. Traci West, Vicki Polin, Maria Taylor|
Monday, July 20, 2009
NOW's CALL TO CRIMINALIZE SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF ADULTS BY CLERGY
As many of you are aware, back in June, Vicki Polin, founder and CEO of The Awareness Center spoke on a panel at the National Organization for Women (NOW) national conference on the topic of clergy sexual abuse against adults. The organizer of our workshop just notified me that the resolution for NOW to support a call for action to criminalize sexual exploitation of adults by clergy passed out of committee and was adopted on Sunday as one of the 2009 NOW resolutions!
We are all asking that everyone to contact their state and local NOW chapters to work with them to achieve some of the goals outlined in the resolution. It is up to each and every one of us to make this resolution mean something. One of the primary goals is to continue our educational efforts, to continue to speak out and inform the wider public about the extent and impacts of this hidden form of sexual violence. Each of us can give presentations and workshops at NOW events at the state and local level, as well as continue to participate at the national level.
It is also recommend that everyone contact your local rape crisis center in your community or the coalition against sexual assault within your state and neighboring states to schedule workshops/presentations on this topic. We have a long road ahead, and every step counts. The list of all state coalitions is linked at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's website:
CALL TO CRIMINALIZE SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF WOMEN BY CLERGY
WHEREAS, the National Organization for Women (NOW) has fought hard to shatter societal silence regarding all forms of sexual violence; and
WHEREAS, public misunderstanding and lack of knowledge regarding adult victims of sexual exploitation by clergy have contributed to silencing the voices of these victims; and
WHEREAS, the overwhelming majority of victims of sexual exploitation by clergy are adults, predominately female congregants victimized by male clergy; and
WHEREAS, adult victims of clergy sexual exploitation are routinely blamed for this abuse and revictimized by the public, severely ostracized by their own congregations, and disbelieved by religious authority figures from whom they seek solace and protection, resulting in devastating social isolation and confusion; and
WHEREAS, in addition to coping with the physical and emotional impacts of sexual violation, victims of sexual exploitation by clergy often also suffer loss of faith, loss of religious tradition, loss of spouse, loss of employment within religious organizations or with faith-affiliated educational institutions, self-blame by the victim, and loss of support from family, congregation, and community;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NOW chapters be encouraged to participate in educational and advocacy campaigns to increase public awareness that the majority of victims of clergy sexual exploitation are adult women and that sexual violation by a spiritual leader has profound life-altering impacts; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW entities be encouraged to support state legislative campaigns for statutory reform, in particular to add clergy to the enumerated categories of professionals covered in fiduciary-duty laws in states having such laws, and for criminalization of sexual relations between similarly enumerated categories of professionals in states not having fiduciary-duty laws; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW disseminate information on the extent and impacts of clergy sexual exploitation of adult women, including legal avenues of redress and model legislation, on the NOW website and via other media outlets that NOW regularly utilizes for its advocacy campaigns.