Sexual abuse in the Church: in Alsace, a helpline provided by France Victimes

The Five days a week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., victims of sexual abuse committed within the framework of the Church in Alsace can now call a dedicated number. At the end of the line, listeners from the SOS association aide aux habitants-France Victimes 67.

→ READ. In the wake of the Sauvé report, the necessary overhaul of the victims’ listening cells

Of the thirty-five employees of the association, four (two psychologists and two jurists) devote themselves in turn to this listening unit. This partnership agreement is the result of contacts established for more than two years with the diocese of Strasbourg, whose archbishop, Mgr Luc Ravel, is particularly involved in the response to the scandal of sexual abuse in the Church.

Direct caller handling

Since the submission of the report of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (Ciase), a national telephone number dedicated to these abuses,, was born on October 18 from an agreement signed between the Conference of Bishops of France, the Conference of Men and Women Religious in France (Corref) and France Victimes. This national structure does not, however, take care of the follow-up of callers over time. It refers them to local associations capable of providing them with legal, psychological and social assistance.

The originality in Strasbourg is that the local branch of France Victimes deals directly with callers. The call to the listening cell number may be followed by an immediate exchange or by making an appointment within 48 hours, for a face-to-face interview, or if necessary by videoconference or by telephone.

Independence of the diocese

“We will determine the person’s needs with the person, follow them over time and refer them to the psychotrauma center of the hospital if necessary, accompany them to file a complaint, even to reconnect with the Church and obtain an apology … This, in complete independence of the diocese and without giving it back the identity of the victims, explains André Laurent, president of SOS aide aux habitants-France Victimes 67. However, if the victims are currently minors, we will report to the courts and, if the perpetrator is still active, we will let the diocese know. “ If the victims are adults today, the association can also report the facts to justice, but with their agreement.

The listeners will follow Friday, January 14 a three-hour training course on abuse committed within the framework of the Church, provided by Sister Susannah Kelly, episcopal delegate in charge of the fight against sexual abuse. “It is a question of helping them to understand the confusion and the feeling of guilt in which will be the people attacked in an ecclesial framework, confusion close to that felt by the victims of incest”, explains the latter.

Dealing with the current liberation of speech

Based on the estimate of Ciase according to which only 3 to 4% of the victims have come forward, the diocese hopes to face the current liberation of speech. “Sixty-four new testimonies have reached us since the Sauvé report, including some concerning recent events, ie four new victims declared per week. I had underestimated this first wave, recognizes Bishop Ravel. Each new case is a minimum of two to three hours of listening to start, then a follow-up to imagine. Our in-house skills are lacking, despite a certain expertise. “

→ TESTIMONIALS. Sexual abuse in the Church: the word is only beginning to be released

Callers can continue to call the diocese directly if they wish. The latter, however, will let them know the local number of France Victimes, as well as to parishes and Church movements. “It was necessary to provide an entrance door completely independent of the Church, in particular for those who slammed the door”, underlines Bishop Ravel, who specifies that they will thus be able to register “In a process of compensation”. Before the establishment of this number, ten people had themselves contacted the association to seek help as victims of sexual abuse in the Church in Alsace.


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