Dimensions and Stages Toward System Solutions for Systemic Abuse


SUMMARY: I continue to refine recommendations and resources for practical processes to deal with “systemic abuse.” This page shares my five-part approach that was current as of May 2019, and some preliminary resources which go into detail.
  • 1. Authorize independent investigation.
  • 2. Identify problems.
  • 3. Lament.
  • 4. Develop and implement action plans.
  • 5. Continual monitoring/revising.

While this repeats some of the material found on the Evaluations and Recommendations page, it has some differences worth working through.

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SOURCE NOTES: This was originally posted as a Twitter Moment on May 4, 2019, entitled, Dimensions and Stages Toward System Solutions for Systemic Abuse.

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Dimensions and Stages Toward System Solutions for Systemic Abuse

THREAD: Dimensions and stages in working toward system solutions for systemic abuse–my current approach as of May 2019.

  1. Authorize independent investigation; describe system.
  2. Identify problems.
  3. Lament.
  4. Develop and implement action plans.
  5. Continual monitoring/revising.

First, AUTHORIZE a truly independent investigation for fact-finding, analysis, and description of the entire system as it has been and currently is, including corrupted elements and interconnections in it.

Why must we conduct this step of investigation first? Do we know what “systems” are? If we don’t have an accurate, comprehensive description of our system and where the problematic people, points, and paradigms are in it, can we ever legitimately say we’ve dealt with systemic abuse? The following slides give a short tutorial on key terms.

*RESOURCE #1* October 16, 2015, Religion News Service article by Boz Tchividjian—Are abuse survivors best served when institutions investigate themselves? Authorizing agency is NOT in control of the: investigator, process, findings, or final report.

Second, IDENTIFY where there are issues/situations involving:

  • Individual perpetrators and their perpetuators.
  • Institutional parts that promote, enable, conceal abusers.
  • Ideological planks that excuse abuse, silence victims, deflect accountability.

Why do we need to consider all three layers simultaneously? Because a system is more than just people. Removing abusers doesn’t fix processes and procedures that let them in, in the first place, or fix faulty beliefs or values they infused into it.

*RESOURCE #2* A sequence of essential concept frameworks for identifying core elements of systemic abuse. Includes definitions or summary quotes on concept frameworks, visual representation, and a few key details.

Third, LAMENT. Sit in silence with the impact. Absorb the emotional, physical, spiritual realities trauma caused for people directly victimized, and for their networks of family, friends, co-parishioners. Hear their narratives; understand the consequences abuse in our system wrought.

Why wait — why not just get going? There will be strong temptation — and maybe pressure — to launch into quick fixes. That may help us to feel more comfortable in a bad situation, or look activist to repair our image. But how can we exit well unless we’ve entered in deeply?

Fourth, DEVELOP AND IMPLEMENT APPROPRIATE ACTION PLANS for multiple system layers. * Past situations need reconciliation and possibly reparations. * Present cases need interventions and remediation. * Future needs prevention: policies, trainings, watchdogs.

*RESOURCE #3* Systems and Systemic Abuse. Basics About Systems. Systemic Abuse. Transforming a Corrupted System – Lens #1: Repentance and Remediation. “Spotlight”: An Example of Research for Repentance and Reparations.

*RESOURCE #4* Transforming Corrupted Systems – Lens #2: Humility and Conciliation. Examples Involving Personal and/or Systemic Repentance and Remediation. Addendum: Complex Situations, Possibilities for Transformation, and the Realities of Ambivalences.

*RESOURCE #5* How Do Abusive Systems Get Going and Maintain Momentum? The “Pyramid of Abuse” Shows Us the Who and the How. (This focuses on categories of individuals involved in abusive systems, and what level of culpability or complicity they hold.)

*RESOURCE #6* Responsibility for Spiritual Abuse. This article focuses in Part 3 on how to develop comprehensive “remediation plan” to deal with abuse in an organization. It includes sections on “Dealing with Toxic Leaders Who Need Healing and Sick Organizational Systems That Need Repairing.”

Fifth, CONTINUAL MONITORING PLUS REVISING of system plans, resources, & personnel. “Dealing with” systemic abuse is about sustainability for the long haul. So, ongoing evaluation is needed, as long as the system lasts — and to help ensure that it is becomes safer and so does last.

Again, the core issue will be whether we “get it” about systems or not. If we do, we’ll know that systems morph over time, as any of its elements are altered. So, addressing systemic abuse is never a one-off, one-time event — but an ongoing, watchers-on-the-wall process. Selah.

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