About the Independent Abuse Review Panel
Most children of missionaries value their experiences in distant lands and the opportunity to have lived in another culture. However, in the 1990s several found the courage to report to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that years earlier they had been sexually abused while attending boarding schools in Congo.
Many spoke of serious life-long consequences: self-hate, low self-esteem, a sense of powerlessness, struggles with depression, alcoholism/drug addiction, eating disorders or forming long-term relationships.
One woman said, “I gave up my idea of God as a strong, loving deity who stayed by me in times of good and bad … I gave up my relationship with my parents and all adults as people who could be trusted … I gave up the joy of waking up to a new day full of promise and excitement.”
Committed to furthering the healing process, PC(USA), in 2002, appointed the Independent Committee of Inquiry (ICI) to investigate abuse that had occurred in the Congo from 1945-1978. In 2004, after the ICI had completed its work and representatives of thePC(USA) had responded personally to survivors, the church extended its inquiry beyond the Congo. It formed the Independent Abuse Review Panel (IARP), which completed its work in 2010 and issued a Final Report. The PC(USA) has adopted policies and procedures for prevention of sexual abuse and it created the Office of the Sexual Misconduct Ombudsperson. Working with churches and schools serving missionaries’ children, the Ombudsperson promotes prevention and awareness and responds to allegations of abuse against Mission Agency mission personnel.
Get the Final Report
This Final Report of the Independent Abuse Review Panel (IARP) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) summarizes fact-finding inquiries conducted from 2004-2010 into reports of past physical and sexual abuse in Presbyterian mission fields.
The IARP offers this Final Report with deep respect for each person and entity touched by the difficult issues discussed here. The purpose of gathering and reporting this information is to move each of us and all of us forward toward the fullness and richness of life given to us and promised for us by God.
The report is available in two formats: download or order
Witnesses to Truth, Witnesses to Healing: Investigating Child Abuse in Missionary Settings
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) through its Independent Abuse Review Panel created this 90-minute DVD/VHS as an outreach to survivors of sexual and physical abuse, and their families and friends, in Presbyterian-related missionary communities. What you see in this program are five witnesses — a parent of survivors and four survivors — who participated in the ICI's Congo inquiry. They share their journey as witnesses to truth and as witnesses to healing.
The IARP was composed of the following members who committed themselves to the IARP’s mandate, as expressed in the IARP’s Charter, to “pursue truth, encourage healing, and promote justice” in the lives of survivors, those accused, their families, and their faith communities. This panel served until the end of the IARP’s charter service and the church is grateful for their time and service.
How You Can Help Victims
Although the work of the IARP has been completed, if you or someone you care about was physically or sexually abused while their parents served the PC(USA) or one of its predecessor denominations as a missionary, or if you or someone you care about is currently being physically or sexually abused while their missionary parents serve the PC(USA), please contact:
Sexual Misconduct Ombudsperson
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
100 Witherspoon Street, Room 5631A
Louisville, KY 40202
International abuse hotline:
Or write to:
100 Witherspoon Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Also see the Creating Safe Ministries website for further information.