Addressing sexual abuse in faith communities can be particularly challenging given some of the cultural barriers, the stigmatization and blaming of survivors, and the social and emotional consequences that many survivors face by coming forward.
While it is easy for many in the community to pass the onus of justice on to law enforcement, the reality is that often is just not enough. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), nearly 70% of sexual assault goes unreported. Research indicates that this percentage is even higher in communities of color. Only 3% of sex offenders ever spend a night in jail. Taking these alarming statistics into consideration, how can we as community members support survivors and help them seek justice?
We can start by making a commitment to compassion. As beautifully and simply articulated in this brilliant khutbah by Sumaya Abubaker at the Women’s Mosque of America on April 24, 2015, we hear the story of a survivor and the challenges to addressing sexual assault and sexual abuse. “So who do we blame,” she asks, “if we can’t blame the survivors for the very transgressions committed against them? The heart of the matter is that truly what makes us unsafe, is the illusion of safety that we have created. And we built this illusion with our silence. The silencing of our survivors. The silence of those who should know better and the silence that we have created around the perpetrators. The silence at its very essence, is the absence of compassion. But it doesn’t have to be this way…..Compassion and justice are inextricably linked. without compassion there is no justice, and without justice there is no compassion.”
This khutbah is worth every minute of your time. Listen, reflect, and commit to working to build safer communities for those who have been silenced, for those who’s agency was stripped away from them when the great transgression was committed against them. While law enforcement has its own trajectory, we hold great responsibility to one another as human beings to protect them, keep them physically, emotionally, spiritually, and socially safe, and to empower them as they begin their journey of healing.
For previous khutbahs at the Women’s Mosque of America, please click here.