The Association of Adventist Women has put together an interfaith sexual abuse conference in light of the #MeToo movement, public allegations against members of the Catholic church and allegations against Justice Brett Kavanaugh earlier this month.
The conference, “Unveiling: Women, Faith and Sexual Abuse,” held at Riverside’s Convention Center Oct. 26 and 27 will address sexual abuse wtihin religious communities.
Dr. Lourdes Morales-Gudmundsson, AAW president and professor at La Sierra University, said this is the first time the organization has held an inter- faith conference in which they could talk about an issue that they all have in common.
“We extended the invitation to all these women across the religious spectrum and the answer was always, ‘Yes, we want to talk about this problem across the boundaries of faith communities,’” Morales-Gudmundsson said.
The conference will feature women from diverse religious viewpoints with discussion top- ics such as “Hideous, Shocking and Vile: Who are the Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse?” presented by Dr. Barbara Hernandez, marriage and family therapist and professor of psychology at Loma Linda University. Hernandez’s presentation will lay out a balanced approach to identifying possible sexual abuse risks in various groups.
“People tend to either minimize sexual abuse perpetrators because they are upstanding members of society or they view sexual abusers as 100 percent irredeemable,” Hernandez said. “But there are a number of contributing factors to the perpetration of sexual abuse and the type of victims they target.”
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center states one in five women and one in 71 men in the United States will experience sexual abuse at some point in their lives. One in three women and one in six men will experience some form of sexual violence in their life.
“I am always concerned with how survivors of sexual abuse process their abuse and the role of religious beliefs in recovering from it,” Hernandez said. “Understanding what abuse means in a religious and cultural con- text helps us know how to help.”
Bretaña Burgos, senior psychology and sociology double major, said all religions should talk about sexual assault.
“This is an important topic to talk about regardless of religion,” Burgos said. “This is a topic that could save a life.”
Students are welcome to bring their student ID and get into the conference for free.