Monday, March 28, 2005

Vox Takes Aim At Abusers

I've been waiting for the The Witches' Voice to announce this week's essay topic. I was told that it would address the issues of abusers in our midst.

The topic is broader than I thought it would be. After talking with them, I thought they would address the issue of sexual predators more directly (especially in Covens) and touch on the issues of recovery from sexual abuse among Pagans. However, that could release a cave of very destructive dragons, which could harm Vox. I can't blame them for showing caution. In fact, I have to admire them for showing such good judgment. They know the sorts of loonies who are out there and what sorts of wild claims they could make even better than I do, and they have to tread carefully.

Would I have done it differently. Yes. Would it have been more effective? I don't know. Maybe not.

It's a difficult call.

The Editors at Vox have side stepped a deep and persistent problem: What do we do about the people who lie and claim to be victims in order to get attention?

Questions That Come To Mind:

* Sending warnings about known abusers, and helping others to heal is now done very privately. It is a matter of trust between Pagan Organizors, individuals, groups and Covens, but it only works if
a) we know one another well and
b) we communicate well.
It doesn't work when the abuser leaves town for places unknow.
Should this way of doing things change? If so, how?

* How do we best help survivors of abuse, especially sexual and physical abuse, share their experience, strength and hope?

* How do we aid Pagan groups to guard against further abuse?

* How do we do this work while protecting both the privacy of victims and the rights of the accused?

* How are Pagan Covens, and clergy (both formal and informal) at risk for legal action by those abused when in their care?

The Witches' Voice has brought this topic for discussion in the most public and well respected forum that we have, which is very brave of them. As things currently stand, far too many Pagans are in denial about these issues.

Certain organizers have been trying to tell the truth about this for a long time, now. If that means airing our dirty laundry in public, so be it. If it means doing this one small step at a time, fine. As long as we move forward.

So, "Bravo "Vox!" for doing this. Whenever we've needed people to lead the way and be a voice for sanity, they have been there for us.

I also like their idea of adding information and resources culled from these essays into their White Pages. The important thing is that this information be easy for Pagans to find in the future. The Witches' Voice website is both vast and deep, and information can get hidden there (even with all their care in construction). I will keep a look out for these referrals and link to them from several of our pages and I'll advise others to do the same.

There may yet be another way and another (safer?) forum in which to deal with this issue. Something more private and thus, more protected and fair. I've got some ideas, but I'll need to think on it more.

I will also take time today and let some people know about this essay topic. At FCE we've been talking and thinking and writing about this issue for quite a while now. The question is: Will one of our staff write a piece about this for the Voice on this occasion, and if so, who?



Call for Essays:

Abuse and Abusers

Abusers come in all sizes, shapes, colors, genders, and religions. Our communities are not immune from the predations of people who will harm others to fulfill their own needs and desires. Unfortunately, when a community discovers an abuser in its midst, the tendency can be to sweep the problem under the rug. The question we ask this season is: How should we handle cases of abuse -- physical, sexual, emotional, and spiritual -- within our community? PLEASE NOTE: Due to legal and ethical issues we cannot accept any essay that refers to specific incidents, even hypothetical ones. The essays should focus on the future -- ideas and resources for handling situations of abuse when they are discovered, and how to work to prevent those situations, not on past incidents.

We will be culling ideas and resources from these essays for a page that will be available in our "White Pages" section. When you submit your essay, please let us know if we may quote from it on this page. The deadline for this topic is April 30th., but we will post the essays as we receive them.

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