Restore Our Humanity, a Utah civil rights group, has announced a two-part initiative to assist those who have been sexually abused by member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). The ROH initiative intends to raise awareness of sexual abuse within the Mormon Church and provide assistance and support to survivors of Mormon sexual abuse. Additionally, ROH is asking church officials improve the faith’s policies related to abuse prevention and the response of ecclesiastical leaders to abuse allegations. The campaign is a result of 18 months of gathering data, speaking with victims across the country.
ROH founder Mark Lawrence held a news conference yesterday announcing the new effort.
“I’ve talked to more than 100 people,” Lawrence said. “They all go through the same thing. If they go to their LDS Church for help, the first thing they experience is victim shaming … which leads to ostracization and isolation.”
Lawrence also noted in his press conference that he expects more transparency and accountability on behalf of the Mormon Church.
“The membership has a right to know how much of their tithing money has been paid out to cover up abuse,” he said. “But primarily the church needs to change their policies and start believing victims when they come forward.”
ROH has already sent a letter to LDS leadership challenging their assertion that church policies are the “gold standard” in handling cases of sexual abuse. “That is not the case,” the ROH letter states. “A substantial number of survivors with whom we’ve talked detail the ways in which the church has enabled abusers. … We are contacting you to take action on sexual assault in the LDS Church before more innocent children and young adults are victimized.”
As a sexual abuse attorney who has represented dozens of LDS abuse survivors, I applaud ROH’s efforts in providing assistance to survivors as well as their efforts to make the Church of Latter Day Saints accountable for their policies and practices concerning the sexual abuse of children.