Sexual abuse is an uncomfortable topic to discuss. It seems to be even more uncomfortable when we think of the discussion within a church setting. For many of us, myself included, it is difficult to fathom how such painful and destructive experiences can occur in a church, but they can and do. And I assure you it is much more comfortable to discuss prevention of sexual abuse than to suffer the physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences of abuse that can occur by doing nothing.
Do you know what “grooming” means? Maybe I’m different than most, but I had not really paid attention to this term and certainly did not understand it until I began the role of staff counselor with a regional Rape Crisis Center and Children’s Advocacy Center here in Texas.
Once I shifted gears in my brain from the usual definition (tidiness, tending to hygiene issues like brushing, combing, etc.) and applied this term to the context of sexual abuse, I was able to piece together an idea of what grooming meant in that context. The action of grooming, within a sexual abuse situation includes preparing or training someone for a particular purpose or activity. Had I not been thrust into uncomfortable conversations about abuse and/or behaviors of abusers, I’m not sure I would have heard the term, much less educated myself on what it meant.
I dare say many in our churches are like me. You may have heard the term before in a conversation or media story, but still not have a deeper level of understanding. It is possible some would have no idea why the term grooming would need to be discussed within the church setting… until you understand this:
There are ways to identify grooming behaviors and potentially prevent sexual abuse, but we have to engage in the discussion and educate ourselves for prevention to work.
Please take the first step to learn more by joining our MinistrySafe training at the Annual Meeting in Waco, Tuesday, November 15 from 1:30-4:00 p.m. During this training, ministers and leaders will receive helpful information on safeguards to put in place to protect the most vulnerable in your church.
Tentative MinistrySafe regional trainings dates are below and more information is coming soon.