Healing or hurtful? the response of the church in Western Australia to the abused in their midst.

Cynthia K. Dixon


How the churches should respond to those of its Church members who have experienced abuse, physical, emotional or sexual, either in childhood or adulthood is examined through the analysis of qualitative questionnaire data from a sample of 830 church members in Western Australia representing 20 Christian denominations and groups. Interviews with 22 of the respondents who had experienced severe abuse provide a profile of these participants' experience of the churches' response to and outcomes of the disclosure of abuse, reflections on theological teaching, understanding and personal experience of forgiveness, repentance, and justice. with recommendations on the role of the church. Interview data from the Aboriginal participants completes the source of qualitative material. Recommendations for the church community are then generated within the framework of programs already established.

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