Executive Director's April Message
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Abuse Awareness Month. I want to share with you key information about child sexual abuse from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. Child sexual abuse or child molestation is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation. Child sexual abuse includes rape, commercial sexual exploitation of children, exposure, fondling, voyeurism, sexual assault, and exposure. Child sexual abuse is considered a type of child maltreatment, which also includes physical and psychological abuse as well as forms of neglect.
(NSVRC). Child sexual abuse is difficult to talk about or acknowledge. Yet it happens every day, child sexual abuse affects thousands of young children and teens. One in nine girls and one in 53 boys under the age of 18 experie nce sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult, 82% of all victims under 18 are female, of all victims’ under 18, two out of three are ages 12 - 17. Child victims often know who their perpetrator is. Among cases of child sexual abuse reported to Law Enforcement 93% are known to the victim, 7% are strangers, 59% are acquaintances and 34% are family members. (RAINN). Grooming tactics are used to recruit children to establish a trusting relationship, by connecting with the child, sexual predators give them gifts, take them out, make them feel that they are important, giving children attention and affection they may be lacking. Many perpetrators will also use imitation tactics, threats for a child to stay quiet or threatening to harm the child or a member in the family. The people who committed these crimes are trusted by the children they harm and at times are respected people in the community.
Child sexual abuse is a crime, a sin and it’s underreported. What can you do to raise awareness? Talk to children about body safety, teach children the difference between okay and not okay touches, between good and bad secrets, empower them to say no when they don’t want to be touched. We can each do our part by believing and supporting the children in our lives; by reporting any and all suspected child sexual abuse to child protective services or to law enforcement.
Join us on Saturday, April 22, 2017 for the NYC Teen dating Violence Awareness Walkathon; hundreds of teens, children, schools community people will walk to say “NO’ to dating violence. If you are interested in volunteering please contact the office 718-238-5138.
Thank you for your continuous support and prayers,
Co-Founder & Executive Director
A Letter from Rev. Paul H. Knudsen
With each passing year the commitment of Bethlehem Lutheran Church to The Healing Center grows. Several years ago The Healing Center came to Bethlehem. It all began with some freed up office space and an offer to Antonia to move in. The next step was church council approval and then we rented the biggest Budget rental truck possible and moved The Healing Center to Bethlehem.
We committed to a mission agreement that includes the following verbiage: “Bethlehem Lutheran Church embraces The Healing Center. Together we will serve those who suffer in silence due to family violence. Through this partnership in ministry, we will journey in carrying out God’s mission of serving the poor and the marginalized, those who have been abused physically, sexually, mentally, emotionally, and verbally. We will share the good news of hope, peace and healing to victim survivors of family violence. As a community of faith sharing in God’s promise of healing, victim survivors of family violence through the mission of The Healing Center can find safety, hope and spiritual support at Bethlehem Lutheran Church.”
Bethlehem’s church council unanimously supported the decision to make our mission agreement with The Healing Center automatically renewable every year. Bottom line: The Healing Center has a permanent home at Bethlehem Lutheran Church. The Healing Center will never be asked to pay rent or utilities and Bethlehem will support The Healing Center financially and spiritually. Elaine Swiontak from Bethlehem’s church council was elected to the Healing Center’s Board of Directors, thus further establishing our commitment to this ministry. She will serve as The Healing Center’s liaison to the church. Bethlehem continues to annually celebrate Healing Center Sunday and we commission the Healing Center board and staff to carry out this critical mission. In 2013, in addition to our annual benevolence to the Healing Center, congregational members will have the opportunity to support The Healing Center directly with a monthly envelope included with our regular Sunday morning offering envelopes. Our connection to this ministry is growing stronger and stronger.
The above information is not meant to accentuate the goodness of Bethlehem. We actually consider ourselves blessed to be assisting in such a vital ministry to our community. We believe The Healing Center is truly carrying out the ministry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and we are the ones who benefit from this partnership. No words can express the feeling we get when we hear the stories of women expressing their pain and being heard and believed, women and children finding support and assistance, women freed from the bondage of abuse, women’s lives made whole again. This is what The Healing Center does and we are so grateful to be a part of this mission. We hear these stories and we yearn to do more.
Year after year we are amazed by The Healing Center staff, the Board of Directors and especially the incredible dedication and superior leadership of our Executive Director, Antonia Clemente. Without her, none of this work would get accomplished. The Healing Center will continue to serve more women and children and God’s work will continue to get done in a bold way. Bethlehem’s commitment will only grow and grow. This is our promise!
In His Service,
Rev. Paul H. Knudsen
Spiritual Adviser to The Healing Center
Other Healing Center files for download:
The Healing Center Annual Report (2010)
- Presented at the Annual Congregational Meeting of Bethlehem Lutheran Church on February 13, 2011
NYC Teen Dating Violence Awareness Walk REGISTRATION