Introduction

According to Amnesty International worldwide one in three females – nearly one billion – are beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in their lifetime. If we think specifically about the United States, most studies suggest that one in four females is sexually abused by the age of eighteen. Rape, one of the most underreported of all crimes, is believed to happen to one in five women in the US. About 5 million domestic abuse victimizations occur each year among U.S. women ages eighteen and older.

And this happens to children and it happens in Christian communities. One study found that 38% of women in the United States were molested as children under the age of eighteen. That same study found that between 9% and 16% of males in the United States were molested before their 18th birthday. With 75 million children in the United States, this translates to almost 15 million children who will be sexually victimized over the next 18 years. Perhaps most tragically, the evils of child sexual abuse are quite prevalent within the Christian community. An older survey conducted by Christian Ministry Resources found that child abuse allegations made against American churches averaged approximately 70 per week.

In this section, we will provide resources to help individual Christians and congregations and denominations understand the scope of this problem and what must be done by all of us in responding to the problem.