I hear more and more that people believe abused MKs are only out for the money. Nussbaum and Sidebotham made it a premise of the article they published back in June of 2011. This article with its rather twisted logic claimed that Protestant Ministries have become a new market for MKs who are all out to get a large sum of money as compensation for their abuse. Nussbaum has a great deal of influence in the missionary community, since he is legal counsel for the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), and also for Christian and Missionary Alliance and no doubt for other missions. On top of that ACSI is a member of the Child Safety and Protection Network (CSPN), which bills itself as a collaborative network of mission agencies, faith based NGOs and international Christian schools intentionally and strategically addressing the issues of child protection. Many, probably most, of the missions we discuss on this blog, including SIM, are members of CSPN, attending their conferences and working with them in some capacity. We all know missions today have a heavy reliance on lawyers, and are greatly concerned about their liability. When misinformation like that in the Nussbaum article is being passed on to missions is it any wonder that they become hostile and defensive when an MK comes forward with allegations of abuse?
Now, several MKs have spoken out and disagreed with the assertion that we are all out to get large amounts of money. I think it is true that most MKs are not interested in compensation, but rather in having their experiences acknowledged and validated, and having the perpetrators dismissed from the mission. But is any of this really even what we should be discussing? My feeling is that it is just a tactic to throw blame back onto the MK, to make it seem like they are the “bad guys” for wanting compensation. When we all start debating why MKs are opening investigations, we lose sight of the real issue, which is the abuse that happened in the first place.
So what if an MK wants monetary compensation for abuse they suffered in the past? I know MKs who have spent thousands on counseling and medical fees out of their own pockets, who have been unable to earn a steady income because of the effects of abuse, and who missed their chance at education and proper training because they had NO support when they were young adults fresh home from the mission field. If someone added up all the costs associated with abuse that occurred to SIM MKs, it would be pretty staggering. And yet the fact that they would ask for compensation is such a bad thing that lawyers are writing up papers about it! Shouldn’t they be focusing instead on the fact that many perpetrators are still on the mission payrolls, and still out there in the community working with children and putting them in harm’s way?
Whether the goal of an abused MK is to get an apology or to get compensation does not matter. The fact is that they are the victim, they are not the one who has done something wrong.
Lets take the blame off the abused MKs and put it right back where it belongs, on the shoulders of the missionaries who caused so much trauma and heartache for children under their care, and the missions who are refusing to do anything about it.