You Can Make A Difference!
People often ask SNAP leaders "What specifically can I do to help?" Here are some quick and easy ways you can prevent future abuse, and help already wounded survivors to heal.
Always ask yourself "Does this make it easier for victims to find help and come forward?" because that's the fundamental question. Kids are safe, abusers are exposed and parents are warned ONLY when victims are able to report their crimes. If victims and witnesses stay silent, nothing changes.
1) Learn about "safe touch." Make sure your kids know about it. Encourage your school, athletic league, YWCA, and other youth groups to offer such prevention programs.
2) Report suspected abuse, no matter how vague it might seem or how long ago it might have happened.
3) Support legislative reform efforts that make it easier for victims to report crimes and pursue their abusers in court. Especially important are extending/eliminating the civil and criminal statutes of limitations.
4) Join one or more of the independent lay reform groups that are working tirelessly to make the church a healthier place and force some accountability from bishops.
5) Every chance you get, write and submit letters to the editor on this subject. Studies show letters are one of the most widely read parts of any newspaper. And as long as the issue is discussed in public, everyone learns and everyone benefits. See tips some tips here on writing letters to the editor.
6) Post comments on news articles and blogs about child sexual abuse in institutional settings. Posting comments is an excellent way to reach a wide audience. You don't have to be an expert, just write what you feel.
7) Follow us on twitter and like us on Facebook. You can retweet us or tag us in a post and our message will reach many more survivors and supporters. @SNAPnetwork
8) Find/create chances for survivors to speak publicly. When people hear about our experiences, they become more concerned. When we have a chance to be heard, we heal. Whether it's Catholic or non-Catholic, large or small, urge your organization to have a survivor come and speak.
9) Ask your pastor or others to print material about SNAP in church bulletins or publications. Victims come forward when they feel welcomed and know they'll be supported. That, in turn, makes the church safer for everyone.
10) Think back to former students, parishioners, and staff who may have lived near or worked around suspected abusers. It's hard to do, but discuss the abuse with them.
11) Remain vigilant. Complacency never protects kids. Only continued concern and awareness does.
12) Remain skeptical. Remember, many of the same church officials who once told us "We know of no abuse in this diocese" and "Fr. Mike's problem is an aberration" and "We would never transfer a molester" are now trying to tell us everything's OK. Judge church leaders on their deeds, not their words.
13) If you feel obliged to "support" an accused cleric, even if you feel the allegation is baseless, please do so privately. Publicly backing a suspected molester contributes to an intimidating climate that makes it harder for victims and witnesses to come forward. So pray for the accused, visit him/her, bring him/her food, and comfort him/her one-on-one. Remember, the victim and/or the victim's family may also be members of your parish and deserve the same Christian attitude during this very difficult time.
14) Donate to SNAP and ask your friends to do the same. Your donations help us to reach out to survivors, expose predators and protect kids. SNAP has won the Independent Charities Seal of Excellence which is awarded to the members of Independent Charities of America and Local Independent Charities of America that have, upon rigorous independent review, been able to certify, document, and demonstrate on an annual basis that they meet the highest standards of public accountability, program effectiveness, and cost effectiveness. These standards include those required by the US Government for inclusion in the Combined Federal Campaign, probably the most exclusive fund drive in the world. Of the 1,000,000 charities operating in the United States today, it is estimated that fewer than 50,000, or 5 percent, meet or exceed these standards, and, of those, fewer than 2,000 have been awarded this Seal. All donations are tax deductible, SNAP is a 501 (c) 3.
Donating to SNAP is a simple but very effective way to support survivors by helping us to form support groups, assure the helpline is answered and survivors find the resources they need for healing.
Your interest and support enables us to build SNAP's healing model as we deliver the programs and services that advance SNAP's Mission:
- to reach out to survivors of clergy sexual abuse;
- to provide in-person and online support groups;
- while serving as a clearinghouse for key information; and
- to prevent further abuse through public education and advocacy.
Donations can also be made by check and sent to:
P.O. Box 6416
Chicago, IL 60680
Please consider becoming a sustaining donor by making a monthly donation to SNAP either from your credit card or by check.
Did you know you can double or triple your donation at no extra cost to you? Simply ask your employer if they offer matching gifts for charitable donations. Many of them do and it is easy to sign up.