In the 2015 movie Spotlight there is a line that states ‘this was spiritual abuse’. There was recognition that abuse experienced within religious contexts could include coercive control with a religious rationale or justification. However, it was a little understood and under researched form of harm. In a cultural context of the silencing of survivors, there was a necessity to hear the reality of survivor’s experiences. To make a difference to identification, policy and practice this work needed to be underpinned with survivor focused evidenced based research. This was never a task that could, or should, be conducted by an academic psychologist working alone. Working in partnership with survivors, advocates and agencies stories of spiritual abuse emerged providing an evidence base as to how to respond well to disclosures, the training needed and how this should be developed.

The lecture will discuss the journey of this work and the challenges encountered. It will also include research conducted into other forms of harm and disclosures of abuse experienced in religious contexts. There will be consideration of power and positionality, asking questions about where power is held and by whom. It will consider trauma-informed creative approaches to research.

The lecture will consider how silencing works to keep stories of harm hidden but also to keep good practice in responding well and safeguarding from being identified and shared. The voice of survivors will be central throughout. The work has illustrated that to respond well and to prevent harm, there is a need to listen and hear stories of harm and to work towards creating healthier safer communities for the future.

Tea and coffee will be served from 6pm and a complimentary drink will be available afterwards.

You can attend this event in-person or online.

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