Ending the abuse and betrayal of religious child maltreatment

Ending the abuse and betrayal of religious child maltreatment

Religious institutions continue to perpetuate child sexual abuse. Ongoing abuse further undermines any claims to moral authority by religious leaders. Now that religious groups are being forced to disclose this collusion, we must do our part to end religious child maltreatment, abuse and betrayal.

Stories of clergy sexual abuse are all too familiar to those of us whose lives have been devastated by such crimes. And we feel further betrayed by the institutional leaders and their followers who continue to protect abusers and turned their backs on victims.

Here are just a few examples:

  • It has been a decade since the Archdiocese of Los Angeles settled a class action lawsuit, avoiding court proceedings wherein graphic details of clergy sexual abuse and cover up would be public.
  • This June, the findings of a Pennsylvania grand jury related to child abuse allegations in 6 Catholic dioceses will be released.
  • In Chile, a court has determined that “a series of absolutely reprehensible acts” have occurred in the Catholic church that involved “unacceptable abuses of power, of conscience and sexual abuse.”

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My abuse weaponized me against my body. Until my body won.

My abuse weaponized me against my body. Until my body won.

Bethany Brittain, a former board member of the CFFP, talks about how the physical and emotional abuse of her childhood affected her relationship with her body and, ultimately, her health.

When I was 13, I declared war on my body. It wasn’t hard to do. It was quite natural even. There were dysfunctional events and forces in my past that had groomed me for that moment. I had received physical discipline from the time I was 6 months old. My family had unhealthy standards for female “modesty.” Physical and emotional boundaries that were essential for mental health were nonexistent.

Meanwhile, outside of my household, I saw many visuals that defined for me what the “ideal” body looked like. Most transmitted a plastic look found in your average Barbie doll. My wobbles and bulges were proof that my body wasn’t anything near ideal.

It all got to be too much. And so I took the only option I thought I had: I decided my body was something to be despised and declared war.

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Looking Forward: A Message from CFFP President Jaime Romo

Looking Forward: A Message from CFFP President Jaime Romo

It’s about time we begin to turn the world around
It’s about time we start to make it the dream we’ve always known
It’s about time we start to live the family of man
It’s about time, it’s about changes and it’s about time
It’s about peace and it’s about plenty and it’s about time
It’s about you and me together and it’s about time

 

As we look forward to 2018 and our continued efforts to fulfill our mission, these lyrics from a 1983 John Denver song ring true today. It’s about time to not only name abuses that happen when people misuse religious authority, but to gather our voices, our vision, and our shared strengths to transform the practices of maltreatment of vulnerable individuals, particularly children.

The Child-Friendly Faith Project began with a clear vision to educate and raise awareness of religious child maltreatment or RCM. Over the years, we have organized conferences, developed educational resources, and have been called on to support survivors. As we have grown, we have lent support to change legislation in Idaho that protected child medical neglect under the guise of “religious freedom.” And we have had the privilege of supporting those who grew up in, and were abused at, Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. Read More »

What is Religious Child Maltreatment?

What is Religious Child Maltreatment?

baby

 

When I began writing my book, Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment, the term religious child maltreatment or RCM did not exist (and numerous searches proved that Google had never heard of it.)

This dearth of information indicated that there hadn’t been much study on the negative impacts of religious practices and beliefs. And when I began asking people about it, I learned that talking about the subject often made people uncomfortable and sometimes defensive. Read More »

CFFP Conference 2013: A first of its kind event!

CFFP Conference 2013: A first of its kind event!

wideshot of conferenceOur November 8th conference was an amazing opportunity. We were joined by an audience that consisted of people who work in various fields from religious education to social work to law enforcement. We came together to hear about religious and cultural child maltreatment and what can be done to better protect children from abuse and neglect enabled by ideology and ignorance. The speakers represented a who’s-who of experts who have devoted their lives to these important issues. We heard some late-breaking news about a problematic community in Idaho, and the whole event was watched remotely by an audience who tuned in to a live feed.

Want to watch videos from the conference? Click here.

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More than she could bear

More than she could bear

This blog post was originally published via Religious Child Maltreatment

By now you’ve probably heard about the case of Nina Koistinen. She’s the 36-year-old mother from Phoenix who has been charged with first-degree murder, after she confessed to suffocating her newborn baby, Maya. Koistinen reportedly told authorities that she killed Maya six days after giving birth to her, because she “had too many kids already” and was jealous of the attention her husband was giving the baby.

It was her husband, Bradley Koistinen, who found the lifeless infant and alerted authorities. At his wife’s initial court appearance, he explained that his wife was suffering from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression. “We have tried for years and years to manage it,” he said. He also noted that his wife of fifteen years “has been the greatest mother” who “has never hurt any of our kids.” Read more