I’ve written before on the damage done when a community fails to respond to abuse in a justice oriented way. But here is a more succinct and apt quote by Miroslav Volf:
If no one remembers a misdeed or names it publically, it remains invisible. To the observer, its victim is not a victim and its perpetrator is not a perpetrator; both are misperceived because the suffering of the one and the violence of the other go unseen. A double injustice occurs—the first when the original deed is done and the second when it disappears. (italics mine)
Abuse victims sometimes tell us that the most significant damage to them is when community members (family, leaders, peers) fail to “see” or act justly when they hear of the abuse. It was bad enough to be sexually abused (yes, that is real damage too) but far worse to be told it didn’t happen or be told to take it for the sake of the larger community (e.g., you wouldn’t want to harm his reputation, destroy the family, cause others to fall away from Christ, etc.).
I saw this quote in the first pages of The Long Journey Home: Understanding and Ministering to the Sexually Abused, to be released soon by Resource Publications, an imprint of Wipf & Stock. I have the typeset PDF and the editor, Andrew Schmutzer, says the book will be released in August. This book (over 500 pages!) may become the place to turn for Christians seeking to understand the scourge of sexual abuse in all its ugly forms. Chapters are written by those who are expert in the social sciences, theology, and pastoral care. The line up is phenomenal. You can see the title page/table of contents (TOC Long Journey Home) to see the gamut of chapters and authors.