The SNAP Conference in Washington DC

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.

More later.

2 thoughts on “The SNAP Conference in Washington DC”

  1. Thank you for being there Michael, and posting!!!

    My heart is with you all. While you all were meeting, the Diocese of Marquette had the usual response to victim outreach. They sent me a letter to bully me into silence. I never opened it, but sent it back.

    The church does not care! Not at all. Silence prevails. Lack in transparency is the New Gospel. There may be people who care who are spread here and here, but the Institution does not care, and the leaders do not care, and their employees do not care. IF THEY DID, they would rise up and scream for justice. They instead, are frozen in fear and worry, and doubt.

    As you met, victims in another diocese reflected on their diocese and BIshop. Being just short of one year, they pondered why they still were waiting for the outreach/follow-up that was issued by the Victim Advocate. While you all prepared to rally in D.C., I emailed the entire list of USCCB Victim Assistance Coordinators, whom by the way were at their yearly conference, and ONLY THREE REPLIED SO FAR. ONLY THREE MICHAEL.

    To the three Victim Assistance Coordinators, I thank you for your suggestions and blessings.

    Carry on Michael. Fight the good fight. Die a thousand deaths! Never give up. Never shut up.

    Text of request:

    August 5, 2009

    Dear Brothers and Sisters,

    Re: Ministerial Abuse Victims/Survivors in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Marquette

    Victim/survivors have been waiting for the diocese to follow-up one its invitational response to assist victims with further public support following 2008 survivor retreat held at Marygrove Retreat Center. This invitation was given to victims/survivors in this diocese in writing by the Victim Assistance Coordinator. This retreat was held following a wide-spread diocesan and parish outreach to victims/survivors of ministerial misconduct and abuse, both in print in the diocesan newspaper, parish bulletins and public media. This outreach was a parish centered assistance for all abuse survivors.

    A survivor group, “Mended Wings,” is composed of Catholics and independent of all other national survivor support groups, and meets in Marquette, MI.

    If you have or know of a retreat director or speaker whom can come and speak to this group on recovery and self care and the redemptive ministry found only through Jesus Christ please contact me or email me at Financial assistance is available for travel costs.

    Please pray for the Holy Spirit to fill this need.

    Thank you very much. God bless you.

    Kelly Mathews
    Coordinator, Mended Wings
    Marquette, MI

  2. Victims Assistance Coordinator positions need to be renamed to reflect what they actually are. They are Bishop’s Advocates. People should not reports abuse to the Diocese, they need to call the police, the District attorney or contact a private attorney for help. Call SNAP or go on their website to get advise and find resources. If you honestly believe that the church cares about correcting wrongs, you are, like me when I made my report, very naive.

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