Monday Aug 14, 2023

Gymnast & Dr. Nassar Abuse Survivor Addresses Sexual Abuse in Churches

Empowering Survivors and Shining Light: Addressing Abuse in Churches


  • Guest: Rachel Denhollander - attorney, author, advocate, educator.
  • Role in exposing sexual abuse, notably Dr. Larry Nassar's abuse in USA Gymnastics.
  • Highlighting the importance of discussing abuse in religious contexts.

Rachel's Background:

  • Pursuit of justice against Dr. Larry Nassar.
  • Over 300 survivors, including Olympic medalists, came forward.
  • Book "What's a Girl Worth?" recounts her journey and exposes the truth.
  • Collaboration on "" for educating church leaders on abuse and trauma.

Importance of Speaking Up:

  • Debunking the misconception about survivors' reluctance to speak up.
  • The lack of safe avenues for disclosing abuse.
  • Community responses and institutional support as empowering factors.
  • Role of media coverage in enabling survivors to share their stories.

The Role of Church Leaders:

  • Creating safe spaces for survivors within religious communities.
  • Misunderstandings within the church about unity, authority, justice, and forgiveness.
  • Theological views hindering appropriate responses to abuse.
  • Need for education among church leaders about abuse dynamics and trauma.

Value and Worth:

  • Discussion on devaluation of women's worth and expectations of suffering.
  • Motivation behind Rachel's books "What's a Girl Worth?" and "What's a Little Girl Worth?"
  • Initiating conversations with children about identity, value, and speaking out against abuse.

Personal Experience:

  • Insights from Rachel's memoir revealing challenges of speaking out against abuse.
  • Unveiling legal processes, abuse dynamics, and survivor trauma.
  • Acknowledging the privilege and difficulties of supporting survivors.

Progress in Churches:

  • Positive changes in churches' responses to abuse survivors.
  • Establishing support systems, offering resources, and standing with survivors.
  • Understanding the hurdles survivors face in seeking justice.

Highlighting the Positive:

  1. Intentionality and Learning: Pastors seeking knowledge about trauma despite lack of formal training.
  2. Engaging Difficult Topics: Addressing abuse, oppression, and trauma in sermons to foster communication.
  3. Empowering Survivors: Creating safe spaces for sharing stories, fostering healing and support.
  4. Practical Support: Providing legal fees, counseling, resources, and tangible assistance.
  5. Championing Transparency: Standing against silencing tactics, supporting survivors' public speaking.
  6. Advocacy and Legislation: Pastors engaging in legislative efforts to criminalize clergy abuse.

Final Words of Wisdom:

  • For Survivors: Worth is not defined by others' actions, find hope in the existence of light.
  • For Supporters: Stand with the vulnerable, embodying Christ's love and care.
  • Closing Prayer: A heartfelt prayer for comfort, advocacy, and justice for survivors.


Sign up for Leslie's free webinar on August 17th! It's titled,

“I'm Not Okay When You're Not Okay: Defining My Problem, Your Problem, and Our Problem.”

Leslie will even answer your questions - live! Register at 


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