In fact, that group of male survivors I referenced earlier, we’re writing a book called Naming Our Abuse: Men Doing the Write Thing. Using small one-page entries, we each talk about the stages of our journey, using the metaphor of a car wreck: (1) the wreck, (2) the accident report, (3) rehabilitation, and (4) learning to drive again. Men work better “shoulder to shoulder” than “face to face,” and will huddle in the comfort of a “man-cave” and read the most horrific stories imaginable. This is one way to get men to talk about their painful stories. Many of these men have been facing their abuse for years now, but putting it into story-form has proven a dynamic way of telling our stories…and crying, I might add!
Do these suggestions work in both large churches and smaller congregations?
Andrew Schmutzer: Absolutely! It’s not the size of the church, but the attitude of the leadership that matters. Leaders can communicate an openness with pain by admitting some of their own struggles. This creates a culture of emotional honesty that is willing to cry with one survivor or 200! But leaders must also realize, they are reticent to enter the pain of others when they’ve not faced their own places of brokenness. Leaders set the tone for naming and healing, size makes little difference.