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Local Faith Leaders Take Steps to Build Safe Sanctuaries

Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands and area faith leaders fight to end sexual violence in our community and make sure that every survivor receives support and care.  

COLUMBIA, SC – Midlands pastors and other faith leaders will attend training on child sexual abuse prevention and trauma-informed care of survivors in pastoral counseling on Thursday, December 3 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The training will be held at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Columbia and is open to clergy and lay leaders from all faith traditions.

This training is offered at no cost to those working to build safe sanctuaries, due to support from the Parrish Family Foundation and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. It will include two components, both presented by Sexual Trauma Services expert staff: an evidence-based child abuse prevention program and guidance on healing hidden wounds of sexual violence through trauma-informed care.

Director of Therapy, Sherry Lewis, says, “Faith is huge part of the fabric of life of our community. When faith leaders are able to offer trauma-informed care and leadership to their parishioners, they are better able to meet the needs of all members of their flock – especially the one in four women and one in six men who are survivors of sexual violence.”

Experiencing sexual violence is a hidden wound for many survivors, but they may still struggle with how they see themselves, interact with others, and view the world around them – including their beliefs about spirituality and their faith community. Too often, survivors seeking counseling from Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands report that they were abused by someone they knew from their faith community, or that their faith leader didn’t know what to do when they sought help in pastoral counseling. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Dozens of faith leaders from faith traditions and communities across the Midlands have already come together in fellowship and and learning during previous sessions of this training. Others have brought education directly to their congregation, taking advantage of Sexual Trauma Services’ expert educators offering more than a dozen training topics to faith leaders. Interested community and faith groups can find more information online at https://www.stsm.org/get-training/education-programs-adults/faith-community.

Registration is required. Those interested in more information about this training can register online or contact Sarah Nevarez, Adult Education Coordinator, at aec@stsm.org.


About Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands

Sexual Trauma Services is a 501(c)3 private, nonprofit, United Way member agency headquartered in Columbia, SC. Formerly named Rape Crisis Network, Sexual Trauma Services serves Richland, Lexington, Newberry, Sumter, and Clarendon Counties. Sexual Trauma Services is committed to providing free support to survivors of sexual assault and abuse, including a 24-hour crisis hotline, hospital accompaniment, court accompaniment, personal advocacy, and individual and group counseling. In addition, Sexual Trauma Services works to educate the community to identify and prevent sexual violence. For more information or to donate online: www.stsm.org.

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