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Affirmative practice of healing in the Nordic Region.

In Norway, the Lutheran Church together with the YWCA and the Diaconic Institution Lovisenberg, have established a Foundation to run a center for abused women. The Resource Center against Violence and Sexual Abuse was started five years ago and its aim is to carry out the diaconal function of the Church in meeting the victims of violence and sexual abuse".

The Foundation is financed by the founding members and has four employees: a pastor, a diaconic worker, a psychologist and a theologian, all experienced in counseling and working with persons traumatized by violence. The center functions in two ways:

As a Place for Meeting and Discussion

Persons who have been victims of violence demonstrate different kinds of symptoms. These depend on the beginning of abuse, its duration and the gravity of the abuse. The younger the person is in the beginning of the abuse, the longer it lasts, and with more serious consequences. Some develop changes in personality, others become marginalized and traumatized. Victims lose their confidence and trust on other people and withdraw from social or/and family life with a feeling of shame. The most severe consequences are suffered by the victims, who have been abused by trusted persons, who are very close to them.

It is thus extremely important to meet the victims in a highly professional manner in order to initiate the process of healing. The victim must be given a new understanding of life and of the incident, and she needs to learn that there is a link between her problems and her bad feeling and the evil acts she has been exposed to. This requires a lot of sensitivity and professional skill and the helper/therapist needs to know different techniques to facilitate the discussion. The goal is to give the victim new perspectives and possibilities for personal development, and to restore her trust in other human beings and to God to bring about healing at a personal level.

As a Place for Developing New Skills and Approaches in the Church

The Center helps the Church to increase her knowledge about violence and its consequences and her ability in dealing with the victims of violence. The church of Norway has admitted that concerning violence and victims of violence, it has not had very much to contribute or to offer to the victims. The traditional pastoral and diaconal methods have not been able to face violence as a reality within the Church and to Church employees. It is also involved in the research projects about violence and its influence in individuals and in society.

The Center continues working with people who are, or have been victims of violence and emphasizes three dimensions in its work for healing:

* To take a stand against violence--to take a stand with/for the victim

* To be attentive and watchful--and to give care and attention

* To look for better knowledge and information--to transmit it further.

REV. REETTA LESKINEN

Diaconia Polytechnic, Jarvenpaa, Finland

Regional Coordinator, WICAS
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Title Annotation:Lutheran Church, YWCA and Diaconic Institution Lovisenberg establish Resource Center against Violence and Sexual Abuse
Author:Leskinen, Reetta
Publication:Women Magazine
Geographic Code:4EXNO
Date:Jul 1, 2003
Words:495
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