The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released revised guidelines for Bishops and other local leaders regarding abuse. It follows mounting criticism of how church leaders address and respond to sexual assault, but these changes may not go far enough.
One Mormon therapist, Natasha Helfer Parker, said a big red flag for her is how these guidelines instruct Mormon leaders to counsel the abuse perpetrators. Leaders are instructed to help those committing the abuse to stop and repent of what they’ve done. Parker said they simply don’t have the training for that.
"I’ve been working as a therapist for 23 years, I’ve been a certified sex therapist for 7 years and I would not feel qualified to treat a sex offender, Parker told RadioWest on Tuesday.
Parker said the idea that someone can simply repent of this behavior is an uninformed approach.
Another part of the system that has raised questions is the LDS Church’s abuse helpline. It’s not for the abuse survivor, it’s for their church leader. Lindsay Hansen Park, the director of the Mormon magazine Sunstone, said he sees a flaw in this system.
“Often the problem of reporting to your bishop, and then the bishop going to a hotline, is there are cases where the bishops are the perpetrators," said Park.
Park said this provides another barrier for abuse survivors and can keep them from getting the help they desperately need.