Sex abuse report: Bob Jones University fosters culture of victim-blaming

Intercourse abuse victims at the conservative Christian Bob Jones University encounter a victim-blaming culture that discourages reporting abuse, in accordance to an independent report released on Thursday by a non-profit that fights sex abuse in the church.

Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Setting (Grace) published the scathing 300-page report, which specifics the experiences of existing and former students, employees, and other folks who have dealt with students’ intercourse abuse claims –such as pastors, counselors, and family members.

The report, which BJU commissioned Grace to generate, said the findings “support a feasible conclusion” that childhood survivors of intercourse abuse could not contemplate the school a risk-free location to disclose such experiences or look for support. A lot more than 60% of respondents who identified as victims characterized the “general mindset at BJU towards victims as one particular of blame and disparagement”.

BJU, which was founded in 1927 by Christian evangelist Robert Jones, has its college students sign a “covenant” to indicate their intention to abide by the university’s policies, which contain requiring that students abstain from premarital sex, strive towards a modest physical appearance, and be subject to curfews.

In November 2012, BJU’s board of trustees asked Grace to investigate the school in response to complaints about the its policies and procedures for managing abuse claims made by men and women abused even though attending the college or earlier. It terminated the contract in late January, then reinstated it in late February. The investigation concluded in June, and Grace mentioned that it was an crucial phase in improving how the college responds to intercourse abuse.

The report was produced by a crew of Grace investigators, which includes psychological health experts with experience in little one abuse, youngster abuse prosecutors, and clergy members. The investigators designed an on the web survey, then carried out 116 interviews, about half of which had been with men and women who self-identified as victims of sexual abuse. The others interviewed were workers members, pastors, counselors, former students, and other people who have dealt with sex abuse claims created by college students.

BJU released a four-page summary of the report on Thursday. The university explained it questioned some of the methodology of the report, but that the themes and suggestions it offers are in the long run worthwhile.

“Bob Jones University is committed to generating needed, substantive adjustments to far better reflect our values and demonstrate victims the enjoy of Jesus Christ. These alterations will consider deliberate imagined and planning and time to apply. We inquire for persistence as we work with victims and other current and former college students and get the necessary methods above the coming weeks, months, and many years to achieve these ambitions.”

School president Steve Pettit is set to appoint a committee to assessment the report above the up coming couple of days.

Because the school receives Title IX funding, it is needed to report abuse claims below the Clery Act. The report, however, indicates that the university does not inspire personal reporting to the police.

In Grace’s survey, the 66 folks who reported abuse were asked about the school’s stance towards the victim producing an abuse report. Of these, only five had been encouraged to make a report. Fourteen participants described BJU as “discouraging” the report, and, most damningly, 17 participants stated that they have been directed by BJU personnel not to make a police report. 4 did not know and 26 defined the school’s stance as “other”.

These findings correlate with the messages that had been presented on campus and at meetings this kind of as the necessary chapels students attended. 1 survey participant wrote: “Victims heard, regularly, from chapel speakers and faculty/employees, that abusers need to be forgiven, that they bore the sin of bitterness, and that they must not report abusers.”

Whilst BJU officials have explained they really do not believe sex abuse can be justified, the report concluded that blaming and shaming messages found their way to college students. A single participant noted the use of Biblical language in shifting blame onto victims: “If a lady is raped she have to have done something to provoke it. It was Often made to be the woman’s fault. We had been ‘stumbling blocks’ to the guys.”

Grace also criticized the school’s dress code, which it explained sends an institutional message that victims could be responsible for the abuse they suffered. It mentioned this does “not only exonerate perpetrators for their actions, but these messages also fail to show really like and compassion to individuals who necessary Christ a lot more than ever.”

Grace also mentioned that symptoms of trauma, or, in some instances, PTSD, had been regarded as sinful behaviour. This was not constrained to personal counseling sessions among survivors of sexual abuse and college counselors it was also characteristic of materials taught in psychology lessons.

Some mentioned they had left counseling sessions with school counselors feeling accountable and feeling as if they had been punished by God. One of these counselors, Dr Jim Berg, advised investigators that the “revivalist flavor” of the college “does generate an eagerness to carry genuine answers to a person. And so that is stronger in my mind than having to make certain that I am pacing myself at the same pace that they are going.”

“My situation was not this extended, drawn-out partnership where men and women can unfold issues. For a single thing, I am a guy, and secondly, my time is restricted,” Berg mentioned. “But also my investigative method – almost certainly I jumped into things faster and possibly produced someone uncomfortable.”

Grace issued a complete record of suggestions for BJU, which includes offering a public apology, reviewing files of men and women who reported a criminal sexual offense to determine which disclosures have to be reported to law enforcement, and providing tuition assistance to students who did not full degrees soon after struggling trauma.

Dani Kelley, a former BJU student who is a sex abuse survivor and a critic of the school, explained she is not assured that the university could alter its approaches. She has never approached the college about her previous abuse simply because of her worries about how she would be treated.

She is specifically concerned about Grace’s recommendation that the school get in touch with victims. “Not only would this require BJU reinserting themselves in the lives of individuals they harm, I simply don’t believe in them to be humble, caring, compassionate, or repentant adequate for such a meeting to do any great,” Kelley advised the Guardian in an electronic mail.

“The language that BJU has used all along about this investigation and individuals it has hurt has been distancing and minimizing, such as their pre-emptive response to the report that they published yesterday, in which they admitted that ‘some’ men and women may have ‘felt’ like they did not receive the aid they needed,” Kelley stated. “That type of language and mindset does nothing at all to inspire self-confidence in the university’s willingness to restore their problems.”

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