Rachael Denhollander: What Pastors Need to Know About Sexual Abuse

denhollander

Rachael Denhollander is a devoted Christ-follower, attorney and advocate. She was the first woman to speak out publicly after filing a report against USA gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, one of the most prolific sexual abusers in history. TIME magazine has named her one of their 100 most influential people, and Glamour magazine named her one of their women of the year. Rachael has received the Inspiration of the Year award from Sports Illustrated and is a joint recipient of ESPN’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Her new book is called, What Is a Girl Worth?: My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA GymnasticsRachael is married to Jacob and has four children.

Key Questions for Rachael Denhollander

-What led you to tackle the question, “What is a girl worth?” and what led you to speak out when you did?

-What does it say about our institutions, that they put those who have been abused in a position where they feel they must wait to tell anyone about their abuse?

-What advice would you give to ministry leaders regarding sexual abuse awareness in their congregations?

-What words of encouragement would you offer to people who are struggling with their faith as a result of surviving sexual abuse?

Key Quotes from Rachael Denhollander

“Because the abuse happened in a medical context, it took a little while before I really understood the extent of what had happened.”

“Really, what I was waiting for, for the next 16 years was just a chance to be believed.”

“Everyone has a community that they align with, that they identify with. Everyone has goals and visions for those communities, whether it’s, you know, the next championship title you’d like to see your university win, whether it’s religious or theological goals…what tends to happen when you see something that could potentially threaten that community is you don’t want it to be true. You want it to be different.”

“Everyone is willing to say child sexual abuse is horrible. We say that all the time. And a lot of times I think we feel it, and we mean it. But when it comes to our community–and we would have to deal with it when it would cost to deal with it–there’s an intrinsic desire to not have it be true.”

“The biggest biggest hurdle that we really have to overcome in how we respond to survivors of abuse is being willing to look at the truth and being willing to examine our own biases.”

“In church institutions, we frequently feel the pressure to make the gospel seem appealing. We feel the pressure to carry the reputation of the church, to protect Jesus’ reputation. And that’s not our weight to carry.”

“The gospel is not dependent on a particular figurehead or a particular denomination.”

“We can see very clearly from scripture: Jesus would speak the truth. Jesus would pursue justice. Jesus would, in all of His holiness, express His wrath against sin.”

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Jason Daye
As Director of Ministry Development for Outreach, Inc., Jason dedicates his time to encouraging and equipping churches, denominations and ministry organizations to develop their Kingdom effectiveness by creating a culture that is both incarnational and invitational. Jason lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with his beautiful wife and six children, where he enjoys hiking with his family, fighting rainbow trout, summiting 14ers and swapping stories with good friends. Connect with him on Twitter @jasondaye