Before joining Disciples Church Extension Fund, I was a professional advocate for those (mostly women) who have experienced domestic violence and sexual assault.

It was extremely frustrating to me that 98% of the time, there were no repercussions for the perpetrators of these crimes, and if there were repercussions, it was usually a slap on the wrist. Honestly, it was so frustrating that I burned out in only two and a half years (the average length of time for someone to be in that field, by the way). 

This month, I thought I’d help answer the question, “What do I say if someone tells me they have experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault?” (These same things are what to say when someone discloses domestic violence as well.)

There are three things to lead with:

  1. I believe you.
  2. It’s not your fault. 
  3. You’re not alone.

Here is a link to an article on RAINN’s (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) website that goes into more detail about what to say and how to give support. (For resources, such as Rape Crisis Centers, visit ICESAHT’s (Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking) website.)

The women and others who have been advocating for victims, better laws, and better law compliance, some for decades, have my deepest respect and admiration. Please lift them up in your prayers.

–  Michelle DeFields-Gambrel, Services Support Manager and a member of Disciples Church Extension Fund’s Anti-Racism/Pro-Reconciliation team

This post initially appeared in the April 2023 issue of the New Church Know-It-All, New Church Ministry’s newsletter. For more content from the ministry on how you can support survivors of sexual assault, please visit our blog.

Additional resources:

American rape crisis centers and local organizations outside of Indiana
Sexual assault centres, crisis lines, and support services in Canada

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