SNAP Conference 25th Anniversary

SNAP-logoIn August 2014 I attended the 25th Anniversary of the Survivor’s Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have attended many conferences about sexual abuse but they were all by professional counselors and researchers for counselors. SNAP is run by survivors for survivors.

At the conference I found myself sitting in a huge room filled with people who had been abused as I had been as a child or had supporters. Everyone had their story.

Kerry, Lee, Barbara at SNAP conference

Kerry, Lee, Barbara at SNAP conference

A real surprise for me, (and they had both kept this a secret) was meeting Barb Anderson and Kerry Louderback Wood. Even though we were the only ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses there, everyone knew who we were.

While SNAP was originated by survivors of sexual abuse by priests, they have broadened that to include members of other religions that – rather than help survivors – actually protect the abusers.

The SNAP Mission Statement says:

Our most powerful tool is the light of truth.
Through our actions, we bring healing, prevention and justice.
SNAP is an independent, confidential network of survivors of religious sexual abuse and their supporters who work to:

Protect the vulnerable:
We expose predators and those who shield them. We build policies and practices within secular and religious organizations that protect children now and in the future.

Heal the wounded:
We share our stories and empower others to confront the truth. Together, we find healthy mechanisms for healing.

Prevent the abuse:
We educate ourselves and our communities about the effects of abuse. We speak in a unified voice to bring about change by exposing the malignant actions of abusive religious ministers and the church officials who shield them.

In order to achieve this mission, SNAP will:

  • Build a continually expanding world-wide network of chapters united under the SNAP banner and website.
  • Recruit and train a flourishing team of staff members, volunteers, leaders and activists who will form an insurmountable force for recovery and change
  • Expose predators across the globe and ensure that they are never placed in positions where they can abuse again
  • Demand and achieve legal justice, working with others to ensure criminal and civil success in all cases of religious abuse
  • Change laws or legal practices that obstruct justice or protect predators
  • Hold church institutions answerable for enabling abuse and shielding predators

True to their mission they have worked tirelessly to not only expose the sexual abuse problem within the Catholic Church but they now welcome people from many different groups. One night Bar, Kerry and I had dinner with two women from different religions. I was sitting beside one of the women and our stories were so similar it was as if we had the same mother and had both come from the same religion that chose to cover the abuse up.

Over the last 25 years Snap has been slowly building to widening their reach to help all those who have been abused within a religious group and then subsequently had the abuse covered up and often the victim being blamed for causing a problem by speaking out about it. But they have not let that stop them.

There have been setbacks but those didn’t stop them either. They have learned. They have had patience. They have had to sometimes even wait for a Pope or two to die or resign.

Advocates for Awareness of Watchtower Abuses can learn a great deal from the lessons that the people at SNAP can offer to us. My hope is that we can find projects to work on together that are mutually beneficial.

Posted on by September 6, 2014

About Lee Marsh

Ex-JW. DFed. A survivor of child sexual abuse, physical abuse and emotional abuse. Survivor of spousal abuse - sexual, emotional and financial. Survivor of sexual assault. And one last one - survivor of ethnic/political abuse. Left the first husband (JW) and lost my home. Left the second husband (never a JW) and lost my home. Wound up homeless for 9 months living out of one tiny room at the YMCA. But I still survive and thrive.


SNAP Conference 25th Anniversary — 5 Comments

  1. Be thankfull that you as so do more and more found out that this org was not what they claim to be and take advantage of good people butt i feel that the one that is really the only one deserving praise no longer allows them to get away with it more JW and ex find more and more things that don t add upp with the things they teach an show their true colours I myself eventough I m inactive sinds round 2000 just recently found the reasons why i had so much convlicting thoughts and feelings about my life and keeo on finding more and more I wish you strenght and love to keep on doing your good against this evil what shows on which side you are and where they really give service to they come from their father the eternal snake the beast immitating the creator and make overall good and kind minded people worship him and blind them with light and misleading them as result Keep it up , the almighty is not blind and he will not forget and let them get away with it , i know he will assit a cause that is just and help you where needed , i believe in his karakteristicks .You honour truth and justice by doing what you do a.Love and power wished to you from your brother ex JW you are not alone and there s lots of us keep focussing on your taskand dont give up i is a small and narrow road that leads to life , be thankfull you now see where it lies and nolonger walk on that wife one blessing and all of the almighty s strenght wisht to you from your brother feom Holland gr Richard

  2. Richard. Thank you for your comments. We have no intention of giving up. The Watchtower Society harms far too many people and keeps them enslaved by their harmful policies and practices.

  3. To My respected Sister Lee Marsh,
    I am a JW but though you are dis-fellowshipped I still respect you as my elder sister. I understand and feel your wounds as if it is paining me by various abuses you have undergone. I don’t know how to put the soothing medicine for the wounds you have in your heart. I don’t know whether you still have faith in Jehovah or not but I extend my heart felt affection because you are an afflicted one. May Jehovah help you. You went this way to find justice because you did not get proper justice through WTS and I understand that. Any way I agree that you need to break the WTS in such as way that the child abuse in the WTS must be totally eliminated. You must crush the present policies WTS on child abuse. I would be more happy if the child abuse happening inside congregation of JW must be dealt by the local police rather than by the bethel help desk. Please bring this change. If I would have been in your place I would have met you personally sorry I am in India. Anyway my brotherly love and affection will be on you always. I feel very painful for the tragic in your family life regarding your two failed marriages. I understand how many times you might have spent the nights without sleep and mental agony. Sometimes some good people get married to wrong people and that is what has happened in your case so also in my elder brother’s case. If I would have been there in your place I would have proposed you to my brother who is like minded like you (i am very sorry if this statement made you bad). One thing I want to tell you not every man will be like your husbands. By seeing all these things I learned how to treat my wife with great respect and love her always and keep her happy that is the way how Jehovah wants it to be but sadly only few men like me understand. I feel that you are indeed a good woman and I do respect you and I see the values in you and I don’t know why certain men don’t see that. They see a woman as something lowly. God created woman with equal abilities. Men should respect those abilities in a woman. Don’t lose your heart. These are the only soothing words I can give to you because we are separated by ocean of distance but not in our thoughts Reply me please
    Yours Younger brother Basavanna Dharwad

    • Thank you very much by your very kind comments. I know there are good and kind gentle men out there. My friends are married to them lol My mother taught me that I had to have a man to take care of me. I have learned instead to take care of and be kind to myself. If that means I live alone to do the work I want to help others who suffer and change these policies that need to be stopped I am okay with that. The work is important and that is where I place my attention now. I strive to be respectful of all Jehovah’s Witnesses. They do not make the policies. They are trained to follow them. For this I feel very sad. When there is injustice they need to have courage to speak out but they also need to know they will not be punished for doing the honorable thing.

      I have not lost heart. it is big and strong. It had to be. Respectfully Lee

  4. To
    My respected Elder Sister
    How are you sister? I am just remembering you. So I am sending the message of love and affection to people like you who are wounded at heart. Here I am not fine. I have got stress not anything from the congregation, but I don’t it it with in me what I should do please reply me.
    Yours Younger brother Basavanna Dharwad

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