Serving Victims' Spiritual Needs
When you reach out to faith-based communities, it is helpful to find common ground. For example, how do faith communities already address the needs of sexual assault victims in their congregations? Finding common ground and inviting faith leaders to collaborate on services for survivors of sexual assault provides a mutual avenue of education and training. Faith leaders may have innovative ideas of how to expand services to include a spiritual dimension. Likewise, you may help faith communities plan and design programs that fit within their current religious programming or may help them seek funding to provide additional services to their congregants.
For example, the Yakima Sexual Assault Unit in Yakima, Washington, initiated partnerships with faith-based organizations in its community.30 To create interest in the partnerships, the unit
- Determined which faith groups were located in the community in order to invite as many representatives as possible.
- Provided information to other community agencies about its plan because those agencies could receive referrals from the faith community participants.
- Sent invitations to all faith-based groups listed in the yellow pages of the telephone directory.
At the first meeting, participants identified a need for education and referral resources in the congregations and asked the unit to share its expertise and answer questions at the congregations' facilities. One church invited the unit to host a support group, and several others were willing to advertise community sexual assault services in their bulletins.