I arrived yesterday afternoon to the Hyatt in Crystal City for the SNAP 2009 Conference. The theme is “Coming of Age! Prevention, Healing and Justice” This is the 21 anniversary of the founding of SNAP, so the “Coming of Age” theme is prevalent as the group declares a maturity and expansion beyond just the universe of Catholic victims of sexual crimes. (Last night I learned that the word “assault” does not cut it, more later.)
Not without hiccups, I arrived at registration to find that my name was not on the list of attendees. I guess I signed up to early! That issue quickly resolved I headed in and sat with a table of complete strangers. If you know me, this is not the kind of thing I generally do.
The first presentation was meant to get the crowd warmed up for the slate of speakers. That first Speaker was Barbara Blaine who gave a presentation on the development of SNAP from a small group of Mid West survivors to an organization growing to other faith and secular groups while transcending international borders.
Second up was Victor Vieth discussing the five obstacles keeping us from significantly reducing child abuse in the United States. (More on that very soon, I promise).
The final speaker of the evening was a very interesting woman named Wendy Murphy. She gave a discussion entitled “Redressing Problematic Language in Sexual Violence Narrative to Fight Eroticism, Victim Blaming and Harmless and Vague Terms in Social and Legal Discourse. An attorney and law professor from Massachusetts, Ms. Murphy was animated and direct. I thought her presentation was thought provoking and enlightening. I was amazed to later find several participants who were not as enthusiastic with her discussion. She may have been a little on the shocking side to some, but considering the audience in the room, what can be more shocking?
What may be the most useful point of the conference is meeting and networking. SNAP is, after all, a network. I think it time that the network re-energizes the base of the organization and gets the dialogue going strong so that we can move on to the changes that need to be made in society to protect children and vulnerable adults.
A quick side note, Kim Fischer is here making a documentary. She has made a few very good short documentaries on the subject of the sexual battery in the Catholic Church. I am looking forward to seeing what she comes up with out of this conference. Check out her website to see some of her work.