A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Diane Langberg interviewed about domestic and sexual abuse, by The Mortification of Spin

Dr Diane Langberg was interviewed recently on The Mortification of Spin, which is a podcast produced by Carl Trueman, Todd Pruitt and the new member of their team Aimee Byrd (aka The Housewife Theologian). Click here for the interview. The title they have given the interview makes it look like it is only about child sexual abuse, but it also deals with domestic abuse.

Unfortunately you can’t leave comments at the Mortification of Spin site which is part of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (though they will be making comments possible in the future I’m told), but you presently can submit comments at Aimee Byrd’s post about the interview.

Here is my condensed transcript of the interview. I’d like to hear readers’ responses to it. The questions the interviewing team asked are in bold font. The answers Diane gave are in plain font.

What are the most common mistakes that leaders make when handling domestic abuse in the church?

1. Disbelief. 2. Desire to protect the God-ordained institutions — what is it going to do to the church? We stop there.

How can we raise awareness in the leadership and the congregation?

Statistics: One in four women experience domestic abuse at some time in their lives. One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before age 18. Sexual abuse is the most underreported crime.

Pastors need to talk about these issues from the pulpit.

What is the right first response for a pastor or leader to an accusation of spousal abuse or child sexual abuse?

With a woman reporting spousal abuse, ask her, “Are you and your children physically safe? ” If not, then action needs to be taken for safety. Apart from that, what you need to do is listen! And what you really want to do is hear the story. Ask her to tell you the story. Invite a wife or an elder in the church to be part of that. Invite couples in the church to read and learn about abuse and become equipped.

With child sexual abuse: report it! You are not equipped to investigate it or to ask the child about it.
If someone tells you they are concerned that a child may be being abused or that an adult is behaving inappropriately, ask the concerned person ‘What have you seen? Why are you concerned?”

What practical measures can the church take to safeguard against child sexual abuse in the church?

Look at policies and procedures from organizations that specialize in this subject– e.g. G.R.A.C.E.

Is talking to churches’ insurance companies relevant for developing church policies against child sexual abuse?

You want more in a church policy than what insurance companies suggest. Insurance companies are typically only concerned that the church not be sued. But a church policy should be more complex and person-caring than just that.

Carl Trueman then said that they had a lot of positive response to their previous podcasts on domestic abuse [links below], but many women took exception to the comment that he and Todd Pruitt made in those previous podcasts that it is sometimes difficult in a he said/she said situation to know who is telling the truth. He asked Diane Langberg:
Are you saying that it is very rare that the person making the allegation is making a false report?

I have only had two false allegations in my 40 years of doing this work.

How can we help the victims feel more comfortable with us and with members of the church and help them to trust God?

Ask her what help she needs — it may be a small group of supporters who can help her in crises.

What do you do with the child sexual abuser who has done their jail time? How does the church love that person and at the same time not be naive and incompetent in continuing to protect the children in the church?

Some church have done ‘bring the church to the person’ rather than the person to the church. That is, have a small group from the church who are willing to come and ‘be church’ with the offender on a regular basis. But if the offender does attend the church services, never let them go anywhere without someone with them. If you take the church to the offender, and if the pervert is in treatment, and if the church officials have access to the treating professional, then that is reasonable. If an offender refuses these conditions, then you know he is playing games.

How do you respond to the inevitable accusation from that person or from someone close to them:  “You don’t believe that God can change him!”?

God isn’t the one you are supervising! The man is the one you are supervising! That is WHY you want to be involved in his life.

The sign of repentance is that you are so afraid that you will hurt children, that you want to protect children more than you want anything else in your life.

Can a victim move on after having been sexually abused?
Yes, it’s a slow process; it depends on how prolonged and complex the abuse was.  Langberg calls the counseling she does ‘A front row seat to redemption.’ Change is slow. It takes years. You cannot brutalize a child and expect the child to grow normally, any more than you can twist up a sapling and expect it to be a straight tree. And if you try to do the repair fast, you will break it!

On a daily basis you face the worst aspects of human depravity. How do you remain positive?

Most of the people I have seen have suffered at the hands of so-called believers. Wicked ungodly people are one thing; but wicked who name the name of Christ are another!

God has used me in their lives, but he has used them in my life equally. He has used them to teach me in deep ways about His cross and who He is; and He has asked me in these areas to watch with him. The watching is hard. But the with him is glorious.

* * * *

Note from Barb Roberts:
Here are the previous two MOS podcasts on domestic abuse:

1. MOS podcast 24 July 2013, titled What Is The Church To Do? — Truemann and Pruitt discuss ‘Spousal Abuse’.
[I wrote a post about this podcast under the heading Carl Trueman and Todd Pruitt believe that abuse is grounds for divorce.]

2. MOS podcast 16 Oct 2013,  titled Not So Subtle — Trueman and Pruitt discuss with Aimee Byrd  ‘Verbal Abuse in Marriage’.
You can comment on this at the teaser post which Aimee has at her site here.

7 Comments

  1. Ann

    Dianne Langberg is in my estimation the most outstanding authority in this area of sexual and domestic abuse in churches, a wonderful example of a mature and balanced approach to this highly controversial subject.

  2. thepersistentwidow

    Wow! Diane Langberg really is outstanding. It is time for the church powers that be to start listening to sound reason for a change. I hope that we will be hearing a lot more from her in these venues. This was a great interview.

  3. Lacie

    Church leaders need this information. I reported to a pastor a 50 year old divorced man planting a kiss on the cheek of a 14 year old girl in the church foyer in plain sight. The response was “it is good the parents are friends with___ and I wonder how much is it his Latino culture.” Not a good answer IMO.

    • The response was “it is good the parents are friends with___ . . .”

      Boy that pastor needs to learn about the characteristics of child predators! Doesn’t he know that they befriend the parents of their targets? Doesn’t he know that the vast majority of parents of kids who got sexually abused by a non-family member say that the person who abused their child was a close family friend and someone they trusted a lot — the person they LAST suspected would abuse their child!

      That pastor needs to read The Socially Skilled Child Molester by Carla Van Dam [affiliate link]

  4. Annie

    “I have only had two false allegations in my 40 years of doing this work.”

    The experience of Diane is supported by other research. With such low rates of false allegations, why is the concern (about the allegation being false) often the first reaction of any pastor to whom abuse is disclosed? What does that say about the knowledge of church leaders regarding child or spousal abuse, and what the church has been brainwashed with?

    • With such low rates of false allegations, why is the concern (about the allegation being false) often the first reaction of any pastor to whom abuse is disclosed?

      Let me hazard a few guesses. The pastors don’t know that the rate of false allegations is so low, because they have never been trained in this area. They have received their knowledge about abuse (child sexual abuse and domestic abuse) from the media, the seminaries and biblical counseling people who themselves don’t know enough about it but who make out that they are equipped to train pastors in this area. And from — worst of all — the abusers. And the abusers of course are feigning victimhood and craftily conveying that their victims are making false allegations . . .

      Bancroft talks about how abusers work hard at keeping the myths about domestic abuse alive. They spread these myths in many ways, thru many channels, with *statistics* (invented, or rubberized) to back them up, and way too many people both lay and the professional believe these myths.

  5. Anonymous

    Thank you for this post. Diane Langberg is a shining light in the ‘counseling world’. I have listened to other presentations and she always honours God.

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