RESTORE OUR HUMANITY TAKES ON SYSTEMIC CHILD ABUSE WITHIN LDS CHURCH AND BSA: Survivors around the globe offered support and resources
by Lauren Elise McNamara
Members of the 501c4 human rights organization Restore Our Humanity and their peers within the academic community have for years noticed some startling trends. There is a child abuse problem in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and within Boy Scouts of America. In Utah, and in other States with large LDS populations, there is evidence of a culture of non-reporting and of protecting perpetrators. This has kept justice from being served and has impeded the rights of survivors by preventing access to counseling, treatment, and to due process.
It is the firm belief of Restore Our Humanity (ROH) and its supporters that the time has come for these trends to be faced and corrected and for the survivors of abuse to be offered healing. It is for this reason that ROH has begun a comprehensive program to provide resources to survivors of child abuse, especially childhood sexual abuse. ROH is seeking to assist survivors of abuse whose perpetrators were representative of the LDS Church or BSA or whose abuse was covered up or kept from authorities or due process in any way by representatives of these organizations. Survivors or individuals representing minor children who are survivors can register their experiences with ROH at restoreourhumanity.org by clicking on the yellow “Survivors of Sexual Abuse” button and filling out the form on the corresponding page or by calling the Survivor Hotline at 801-215-9748. Doing so in no way commits the survivor to participation in any of Restore Our Humanity’s programs only lets ROH know that the survivor is interested in learning more as programs are made available; at which point the survivor may choose to participate in any/all or none of the programs offered. Anonymity, unless the survivor chooses to go public with their story, is of utmost priority.
Restore Our Humanity has retained the pro bono consultative service of lawyer Matthew Long of Rowley, Chapman & Barney, Ltd., a firm located in Arizona (Matt Long is featured here speaking about child sex abuse cases with Mormon Stories Podcast host John Dehlin). Long and his team will be providing comprehensive legal support to survivors in order to help them better understand their rights as survivors and if necessary choose the best path of support and possible litigation consistent with pursuing those rights. It is the goal of ROH that any services offered or litigation pursued may be done at no cost to the survivors.
In addition to legal support ROH is consulting with national support groups, trauma care professionals and other experts in the field to put together resources for survivors for the duration of this program and beyond. Volunteers, especially in the healing arts professions and especially those with trauma and/or child abuse experience, are being recruited now. Individuals interesting is volunteering are asked to contact Volunteer Coordinator Karen Crist at Karen@restoreourhumanity.org. The next volunteer informational meeting will be held Saturday February 27th, at the Salt Lake City Public Library at 1pm MST. If you are not able to make the event, please contact Karen for more.
Finally ROH is looking for the media's help in urging victims of abuse to come forward and is teaming with media and documentarians nationwide to offer survivors, who feel ready, the opportunity to share their stories with the world.
It is the hope of ROH that through believing first, then providing survivors with whatever resources they need, that the cycles of child abuse that have gone on in the LDS Church and in BSA for far too long can be addressed. Restore Our Humanity invites members and leaders of both communities, who have shown such great compassion and commitment to community activism in the past, to join ROH in this endeavor, to encourage their loved ones who have suffered to come forward for help, to love those survivors in their communities through this often difficult process of healing and to themselves commit to bravely confronting this difficult issue head on. Together we can finally offer voice, justice, and healing to survivors and we can do the hard work so that our communities become safer for our children.