New partnership aims to better serve abuse victims

| December 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

“How can we be more responsive to the needs of victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse?”

That was the question Director of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment Tim O’Malley asked himself when he came on board in September to lead the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ child protection efforts. Part of the answer turned out to be partnering with community professionals who are available 24/7, 365 days a year for victim assistance.

This week, the archdiocese announced a partnership with Twin Cities-based Canvas Health to provide victim assistance services, an important step in fulfilling the recommendation of the Safe Environment and Ministerial Standards Task Force to establish an independent 24/7 hotline where concerns regarding misconduct can be reported.

Now, when a person calls (651) 291-4497 any time day or night, he or she will reach a professional trained to respond to victims/survivors of sexual abuse.

“Canvas Health is the perfect match,” O’Malley said. “They are experts in this field who know how to balance action with compassion. They have the professional experience to know how to help the caller with whatever he or she needs.”

Canvas Health has served the metro area for more than 40 years.

“Our organization is grounded on the belief that the vitality and stability of our communities rests on the strength of the individuals and families within them,” said Mark Kuppe, chief executive officer of Canvas Health. “When those who experience traumatic events in their life are helped to heal and live more freely from their past, we are all lifted up. This is so important for victims/survivors of sexual abuse, whether in Church ministry or our broader community.”

The archdiocese has offered victim assistance for those harmed by clergy sexual abuse and other misconduct since 1992. This assistance includes referrals and financial support for counseling, individual or group therapy and spiritual advising or direction.

In the past two months, the archdiocese evaluated its victim assistance program with the help of a nationally-recognized expert on providing assistance to sexual abuse victims/survivors. Jane Braun, former project director of the Midwest Regional Children’s Advocacy Center, recommended taking specific steps to enhance the program.

The archdiocese also consulted with victims/survivors of clergy and other sexual abuse, as well as plaintiffs’ attorneys and other experts.

“We and the survivors with whom we stand support the decision to use Canvas Health to provide independent and outside professional services for first response and counseling,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Jeff Anderson of Jeff Anderson & Associates in St. Paul. “Canvas Health are known professionals in the area of working with survivors of sexual abuse and other trauma, having credentials and training in mental health and crisis management.

“They are an excellent choice to provide independent services to help survivors in healing and support in their recovery. Doe 1 and all of the survivors on whose behalf he spoke when he reached the settlement deserve credit for the continued progress we are seeing. Partnering with Canvas Health is an important action step by the archdiocese.”

O’Malley said he and other archdiocesan leaders will continue to communicate with victims/survivors, plaintiffs’ attorneys and others to make more improvements and to help encourage those who have been harmed to report abuse to law enforcement and seek assistance.
“We are hopeful that our partnership with Canvas Health will be helpful to victims/survivors and will encourage those who may be suffering in silence to come forward,” he said. “Working together, we want to provide a safe haven for those in need.”

Victim Assistance ProgramFor confidential, compassionate assistance from an independent and professional local care provider, call (651) 291-4497.

Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For more information, visit http://www.SafeCatholicSPM.org.

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Category: Local News