Although sexual violence has fallen by half in the last two decades, the wide-ranging nature of the problem remains significant: around every two minutes in any given day, an American endures some sort of sexual assault.1 While the World Health Organization labels intimate partner violence as a significant threat to human rights globally, in the U.S. context a groundswell of attention has emerged following a significant celebrity elevation of the topic in the public consciousness. As data and analysis follow the #MeToo movement, we are aware of the church as an initial place where survivors turn to share their stories and seek help.
It is in this context IMA World Health and Sojourners set out to explore how perceptions of gender based violence have evolved among Protestant pastors in the U.S. On behalf of the We Will Speak Out coalition and campaign, of which both organizations are members, this new study builds on the research previously conducted in 2014. Then, in perhaps the first study of its kind, Protestant pastors were surveyed about their perceptions and responses to domestic and sexual violence in their communities. In this update, we consider how – and even if – those perceptions have evolved in light of the #MeToo movement. We also consider the perceptions and pervasiveness of the #churchtoo movement, which aims to reveal Protestant church communities are not immune to harassment, sexual, physical and other kinds of abuse.