After receiving  a disclosure of sexual abuse  

A Guide for Pastors - protocols and Pastoral Care.

  In 1993, early in my ministry in my new parish,

I received a disclosure

over time I received multiple disclosures.

    more of this later

simply to mention I write out of my live experience

 and my trust in the Lord ( Prov 3 v 6)

and my transferable skills in anthropology ( the study of culture )

                                            and sociology  ( the study of power  - the use and abuse of power

                                                                                                              and power structures)


   over time I have some interaction of criminologists


     I pioneered Mandatory Reporting and have written about how Mandatory Reporting could be better implimented

    I wrote several Issues Papers to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to child sexual abuse

        from memory three were published.


     Then as Pastor's we have a Duty of care  with office bearers and in consultation with the Police

        and the Safe Church Committee to protect the members of our church

 and working with sexual assault counselors and trauma release therapists, as required,


to provide trauma informed Pastoral care.

to stay with the congregation

 and be compassionate towards survivors and vicariously traumatised members of the congregation.

  and be there for the family and friends  of survivors who are vicariously traumatised. 


     there is much more to write and more to research

    welcome to the introduction.




the disapointments

Whilst I have sought to outline processes for Pastors

much of what I have written presupposes that others will be supportive

sadly this is not always the case.

  The Pastor

   has a role,

   a central role


  in this complex

  interdisciplinary matter.


The Congregation may be split between:

  • those who follow safe church procedures
  • those who are supportive and appreciative
  • those in denial - it's too aweful
  • those who support the alleged abuser / the accused.

remember in a congregation which is around one hundred years old

 Pastors have come and gone but families pass on from generation

    to generation.

    friendships between members may have lasted decades.


  In my parish in the sixties there were 200-300 members.

by 1993 there were only 19 the Sunday before I arrived.

    at least six were enablers

        ( friends or relatives of the alleged abuser)

   The Elders knew but refused to do anything

      until  two external elders were appointed to assist.

   there were conceillors.


these days most denominations

      have a Professional Standards Unit.

 I had no such resource.

I have listed responses members may have




The community

responses from the community will vary.

A collegue said in country towns  a Pastor may face such

    opposition from the town he or she may need to leave.

leaving in silence is no longer acceptable

  the allegations must be reported.


Denominations have an obligation to relocate a Pastor

     to a safecommunity

and appoint an interium Pastor to work through the issues.


I was fortunate to be in a multicultural community

    who was supportive

as were other Clergy.


certain persons in the community were unhelpful.


sometimes systems fail    as I found


 take it to the Lord in prayer


The exposure of rampant sexual abuse

 by Roman Catholic Priests

has brought churches into disrepute.


a collegue said my story was like

   "Postman bites dog"


My denomination produced a document of protrocols

which stated my obligation to Mandatory Report

and promised I would not be victimised.

  What I got was:

  • conceilment
  • abondondment
  • marginalisation

Sometimes we simply have to do what is right

trusting God to be our provider

and our source of strength.


What should happen

What we should be able to expect when the system works

and when all parties are Safe Churches / Child Protection focused:

  • The Professional Standards Staff receive and pass on disclosures
  • The Professional Standards Staff advise and are supportive
  • The Parish Elder and Deacons and Office bearers are supportive
  • The Police start an investigation
  • Denominational leadership is supportive
  • Collegues are supportive


  • Victims and witnesses come forward and make statements to the Police
  • Sexual assault services provide support