SNAP Mission Statement
Our most powerful tool is the light of truth.
Through our actions, we bring healing, prevention and justice.
SNAP is an independent, confidential network of survivors of institutional sexual abuse and their supporters who work to:
Protect the vulnerable:
We expose predators and those who shield them.
Heal the wounded:
We share our stories and empower others to confront the truth. Together, we find healthy ways to recover.
Expose the truth:
We educate ourselves and our communities about the effects of abuse. We speak in a unified voice to bring about change by exposing the malignant actions of abusive religious ministers, suspected abusers, priests we suspect of being suspected abusers, and the church officials who shield them or are tangentially related to them in any way.
In order to achieve this mission, SNAP will:
- Build a continually expanding world-wide network of chapters united under the SNAP banner and website.
- Recruit and train a flourishing team of staff, volunteers, leaders and activists who will form an insurmountable force for recovery and change
- Expose predators across the globe and ensure that they are never placed in positions where they can abuse again
- Work for justice, both criminal and civil, in the cases of abuse and cover-up
- Reform archaic, predator-friendly laws that endanger children
- Hold church institutions answerable for enabling abuse and shielding predators
History of SNAP
SNAP all began with one person. Barbara Blaine founded SNAP in 1988 after years of pain, depression and shame. She was abused as an 8th grade child by a Toledo, Ohio priest who taught in the catholic school she attended. Years later, her pleas for help from Toledo’s bishop fell on deaf ears. Barbara realized that survivors of clergy abuse could help each other and, by mid 1988, she had built a network of about two dozen victims. By early 1989 several survivors had struck up friendships, held regular telephone conversations and exchanged letters. In 1991, the very first SNAP Meeting was held at the Holiday Inn, Chicago.
At a subsequent meeting in San Francisco in 1992, Barbara met David Clohessy, a survivor who was abused by a priest in Jefferson City Missouri. David had repressed the memory of his abuse for years before becoming a quintessential member of SNAP and a lifelong colleague and friend to Barbara. SNAP was already a growing and well-established organization when Barbara and David began to notice specific patterns in the way church officials had responded when abuse was disclosed to them. Rarely, if ever, did a church official admit to knowing of other survivors. They made empty promises such as a written apology or no longer permitting a predator to work in ministry. So, in November 1992, SNAP members travelled to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington D.C. At first, bishops refused to see them. Finally, only three agreed to meet with SNAP members and to listen to their stories. The bishops said they would take what they learned “under consideration.” The following spring, in New Orleans, not a single bishop came to one of SNAP’s designated listening sessions. The media, however, did. In November 1993, SNAP leaders from several cities travelled to Chicago to hold the organizations first ever national press conference. When, in 2002, the Boston Globe ran 850 stories about pedophile priests, the sheer numbers of victims coming forward to SNAP asking for support was overwhelming. SNAP took on a small staff to help manage the constant influx of requests and, in 2003, SNAP opened its national office in Chicago.
Today SNAP is the largest, oldest and most active self-help group for clergy sex abuse victims, whether assaulted by ministers, priests, nuns or rabbis. SNAP is a confidential, safe place for wounded men and women to be heard, supported and healed. SNAP works tirelessly to achieve two goals: to heal the wounded and to protect the vulnerable. The organization has more than 10,000 members and support groups meet in over 60 cities across the U.S. and the world.
Biographies of SNAP Directors are available here:
For more information, contact the SNAP National Office.