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Article

“It’s Almost Impossible to Speak about It”: Sexual Abuse, Forgiveness, and the Need for Restitution Rituals

1
Psychology, Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI), University of Gothenburg, 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden
2
Theology, Deptartment of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion, University of Gothenburg, 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden
3
Deptartment of Theology, Åbo Akademi University, 20500 Turku, Finland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Religions 2018, 9(12), 421; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120421
Received: 21 November 2018 / Revised: 12 December 2018 / Accepted: 14 December 2018 / Published: 18 December 2018
The focus of this research was on ways in which Christian congregations can address the concept of forgiveness when caring for victims of sexual abuse, and to make suggestions for a restitution mass as a possible way for congregations to work with these victims. Interviews with seven women and one man, who were victims of sexual abuse, were analyzed according to inductive thematic analysis. Our focus was on abuse that had occurred outside Church, i.e., not perpetrated by representatives for the Church. The informants described how attending services in Church could trigger their memories of sexual abuse, and they struggled to understand the concept of forgiveness; who they were to forgive and what made their forgiveness good enough. They expressed a need for the Church to offer them a safe space, rituals where their experiences would be acknowledged, and to meet with other victims of sexual abuse. We argue that representatives for the Church need to acquire knowledge about sexual abuse and its consequences before offering care. Further, the presence of victims of sexual abuse in a congregation demands that the congregation create appropriate conditions where the victim’s needs and concerns are put into focus. Addressing forgiveness and offering rituals must be done in such a way that it does not consolidate the victim’s feelings of exclusion, guilt, and shame. View Full-Text
Keywords: church; congregational care; Christian worship services; forgiveness; interview study; restitution ritual; sexual abuse; victims church; congregational care; Christian worship services; forgiveness; interview study; restitution ritual; sexual abuse; victims
MDPI and ACS Style

Rudolfsson, L.; Portin, F. “It’s Almost Impossible to Speak about It”: Sexual Abuse, Forgiveness, and the Need for Restitution Rituals. Religions 2018, 9, 421. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120421

AMA Style

Rudolfsson L, Portin F. “It’s Almost Impossible to Speak about It”: Sexual Abuse, Forgiveness, and the Need for Restitution Rituals. Religions. 2018; 9(12):421. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120421

Chicago/Turabian Style

Rudolfsson, Lisa, and Fredrik Portin. 2018. "“It’s Almost Impossible to Speak about It”: Sexual Abuse, Forgiveness, and the Need for Restitution Rituals" Religions 9, no. 12: 421. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120421

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