Clergy roundtable: Start by believing

News | July 11, 2018

St. Paul Lutheran Church and Family Resources will host a session for area clergy on how to best respond when someone discloses sexual, physical, or emotional abuse.

Clergy Roundtable: Start by Believing will be held on Thursday, Aug. 16, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., at St. Paul Lutheran, 2136 Brady St., Davenport. Elaine Olson, a spiritual director and retired pastor; Alexandria Bruozis, Family Resources sexual abuse advocate; and Jessica Slover, Family Resources sexual abuse therapist, will present.

This interfaith roundtable is free, but religious leaders are asked to register online at

The hope is that clergy from all faith traditions will gain a better understanding of how to communicate with people who come to seek comfort and support in the face of abuse. It is clear that women, men, and children who disclose abuse are not always greeted with healthy responses that better lead to healing. An uninformed response can worsen trauma.

Olson will lead a discussion on spiritual aspects and obligations of caring for people who are abused. Bruozis and Slover will focus on the simple but powerful messages of the Start by Believing campaign. This is what a person should hear when they disclose:

  • “I’m sorry this happened. I am here for you.”
  • “You can tell me as much, or as little as you want.”
  • “It’s not your fault.”
  • “I’m glad you told me. I’m so proud of you.”
  • “What can I do to support you?”
  • “Do you want me to go with you to the hospital or police station?”
  • Even with the best of intentions, “why” questions can sound accusatory and make survivors blame themselves.

Questions? Contact Ann McGlynn, director of communication, St. Paul Lutheran, at or 563-326-3547.

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