The following article was published in the November 2016 Star.

Abuse. It comes in so many forms. It usually happens in private but not always. There are horrific public events such as gang rape. Typically, though, the abuse happens in isolation to protect the abuser.

Sexual assault against women has entered the very public arena of the presidential election. I do not know the depth of the pain of sexual abuse. I am a pastor who has listened, cared and walked with women through the healing process.

As much as I cared, until now I never fully understood how many women are in the process of recovery or the depth of their pain.

There is slang for male genitalia. No man likes to be equated with those words. But it has become clear that they don’t deeply wound a man like the crass slurs using women’s genitalia when they are hurled by a man at a woman. The injury is deep and profound. It is abuse that sends a child of God into a time of recovery.

I am grateful for the professional athletes who have come forward to describe actual “locker room talk” in opposition to its definition by a politician. If a man talks about his sexual assault of a woman, then the other men in the conversation are obligated to confront him.

I am told that physical sexual assault triggers a lifetime of recovery. Verbal sexual assault is also carried throughout a person’s life.

Men, we are the ones who can stop this.

We cannot assault another person. It is also up to us to stop other men from violating another child of God. Words and actions have a lifetime of consequences. We must stop it.

May we work to create a culture of love, care, nurture, and respect. That would be a Godly culture. That is God’s work.

— Steven L. Ullestad
Bishop, Northeastern Iowa Synod


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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.




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