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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Lawson

End It Now: A Call to Action

The “END IT NOW” initiative stands as a beacon of hope and a call to action within the church community, addressing the critical issue of abuse prevention and survivor support. With nearly 60% of survivors seeking solace and support from their church community, the Carolina Conference has set an ambitious goal: to appoint at least one advocate in every church. Leading the charge to educate and inform are Erica Smith, the assistant director of Women’s Ministries at the North American Division, and Rene Drumm, a senior research professor of sociology and adjunct professor at Andrews University.

Advocates are not merely volunteers but the voice of the voiceless, certified ambassadors. Their mission is to disseminate vital information, raise awareness about available resources, and guide those affected towards local support systems. Those who attend at least three sessions this week will be certified ambassadors with the “End It Now Manual” and a certificate from the North American Division. To become full advocates, further training and sessions are required.

“END IT NOW” also seeks to educate on the nature of abuse, which Erica Smith and Rene Drumm describe as “a pattern of behavior aimed at manipulation and control.” The program prioritizes the needs of victim-survivors, offering resources and support. According to various studies, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is close to the national average when it comes to experiencing abuse.

A staggering 90% of abusers identified within the SDA community are church members, often holding positions of power such as elders, deacons, school board members, pastors, and teachers. Their status and charisma can facilitate abuse, creating a facade of trust that leads victims to doubt their own experiences. All too often, the church will discredit a victim and not believe their testimony.

The session closed with the first part of Karen’s narrative, whose story underscores the complexity of abuse within a seemingly trustworthy environment. Her story and countless others highlight the urgent need for initiatives like “END IT NOW” to foster a culture of awareness, prevention, and healing within the church community and beyond. If you’d like to learn more about what you can do to raise awareness about this critical need, please attend the next END IT NOW session at the Lambuth Inn International Room at 2 p.m.


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