Responding Well to Abuse and Trauma: Be A Refuge Seminar

The Refuge at Covenant Presbyterian Church, LOR Foundation, Langston Family Foundation and Fremont County Alliance Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault have teamed up to present an extraordinary opportunity for area professionals and churches.

According to Kelly Dehnert, chair of the Refuge Ministries of North America, and Ingrid Buchmeier, director of Lander’s Refuge, the organizations will host “Be a Refuge: Responding to Abuse and Trauma” and present Rachael Denhollander and Darby Strickland as speakers on July 22 in Lander. 

Dehnert noted that Ms. Denhollander was largely responsible for putting Dr. Larry Nassar, team doctor for U.S. Gymnastics, behind bars for the serial sexual abuse of young athletes. Denhollander was named one of the world’s 100 most influential people by Time Magazine and awarded Sports Illustrated’s Inspiration of the Year Award. She told her story in the book “What Is a Girl Worth” and has been featured on most of the major television networks and numerous college campuses, town halls, major corporations and churches around the world. 

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Ms. Strickland is well known as an author of “Is It Abuse?: A Biblical Guide to Identifying Domestic Abuse and Helping Victims” and is on faculty at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was a contributor to the well-known text, “Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused.” She is a lecturer and counselor for CCEF and has been featured as a speaker for abuse and trauma seminars around the world. 

Dehnert said, “The seminar is for survivors of abuse, counselors, medical professionals, churches, law enforcement, bar association members, first responders, childcare providers and anyone interested in understanding abuse and trauma and how to help.” He explained that Darby and Rachael will speak to churches in the morning about “making church a safe place for survivors of abuse” and to professionals during the afternoon. 

Dehnert said attendees have the option of attending either or both sessions but need to register soon to save a spot.

“The Refuge Ministry is a national resource for women and men suffering under domestic violence,” Dehnert explained. It was founded in Kalispell, Montana. “There are several support groups from Pennsylvania to Anchorage. It has provided healing and support to women who have suffered the horrible effects of emotional, physical, spiritual and sexual abuse.” He said Covenant Presbyterian Church has been involved in the ministry for about six years.

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The idea for this seminar was developed while Dehnert was working on a national committee for his church denomination (Presbyterian Church in America) to provide a comprehensive resource for churches to respond well to abuse. Dehnert said he got to know Denhollander and Strickand as they served together on the twelve-member committee. “I had spent much of my work and research focused on toxic leadership and Darby and Rachael broadened my understanding of abuse and trauma. I learned much from them. They are incredibly knowledgeable and have extensive experience helping those who have faced abuse and helping organizations care well for the abused.”

Dehnert encourages anyone who has suffered abuse, or has contact with those who have, to take advantage of the one-day seminar. “This will be a rare opportunity to hear from globally qualified speakers on abuse.” 

Dehnert noted that “Be a Refuge” is free, but attendees must register. “We are encouraging people to register as soon as possible to save a spot. We expect a great turnout as we have already gotten registrations from outside the state.” 

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He said those interested in attending can go to the church website to register: www.CPCLanderWY.org.

“We believe this seminar will provide an invaluable service to Fremont County and beyond as we seek to make our communities safe places for men, women and children.”

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MORE INFORMATION

Participants must be registered to attend. 

The Be A Refuge Abuse Seminar 2023 will provide:

1. guidance to healing for survivors of abuse; 
2. guidance for identifying and handling domestic abuse for lawyers, judges and law enforcement officers;
3. guidance for the care of survivors by abuse advocates and medical professionals;
4. guidance for the identification and care of those suffering from trauma;
5. and guidance for the identification of abuse and care of abuse survivors and their abusers for church leaders and congregant members.

SCHEDULE: Saturday, July 22

Church as a Safe Place – 9-12:30: Faith-based presentation for Church leaders, survivors and congregant members:

1. The Theology of Abuse
2. Identifying abuse
3. Becoming Trauma-informed
4. Advocating for survivors of abuse

Creating a Safe Community – 1:30-5 PM: Presentation for community professionals, advocates and survivors:

1. Law Enforcement, Advocates, Medical Professionals, Educators, Social Services, Bar Association, Childcare.
2. Neurobiology of trauma – how it affects how we care for survivors.
3. Advocating for survivors of abuse.

Be A Refuge is a free seminar funded by a variety of organizations and individuals including:

1. The LOR Foundation

2. The Refuge Ministry

3. Langston Family Foundation

4. Refuge Ministries of North America

5. Fremont County Alliance Against Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault

6. Several Individual Donors

Register at www.CPCLanderWY.org

Rachael Denhollander is an attorney, author, advocate and educator who is recognized as a leading voice on the topic of sexual abuse. Possessing a unique blend of professional skills, personal experiences and dynamic communication style, she is a sought-after media commentator, speaker and consultant. Her grasp of legal issues, corporate ethics, effective leadership strategies and investigative practices are coupled with a trauma-informed, deeply compassionate understanding of the realities facing survivors of sexual abuse and their path toward healing. Bridging the gap between survivors and the society and institutions that may have failed them, Rachael forces audiences to ask the question, “What is a girl or boy worth?” while equipping them with the tools to answer, “Everything.”

Rachael Denhollander became known internationally in 2016 as the first woman to pursue criminal charges and speak publicly against USA Gymnastics’ team doctor Larry Nassar, one of the most prolific sexual abusers in recorded history. As a result of her activism over 300 women—including numerous Olympic medalists—came forward as survivors of Nassar’s abuse, eventually leading to his life imprisonment. Her courageous tenacity and ongoing advocacy helped trigger a complete upheaval at both USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, where former executives and high-ranking officials face numerous criminal charges for their complicity in covering up Nassar’s abuse and lying about what they knew. Rachael was instrumental in helping secure a record-setting $500 million settlement with Michigan State University for Nassar survivors in 2018, and a further $380 million settlement with USA Gymnastics in 2021. In 2019 she published an autobiographical account of her experience titled “What is a Girl Worth?: My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics.”

For her work as an advocate and educator on sexual assault, Rachael was named one of TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World”and one of Glamour Magazine’s “Women of the Year” in 2018. Additionally, she received the “Inspiration of the Year” award from Sports Illustrated, was a joint recipient of ESPN’s “Arthur Ashe Courage Award,” and was named a “Michiganian of the Year” by the Detroit News, along numerous other awards and recommendations.

Rachael has engaged audiences with lectures on the campus of numerous universities across the nation, including Harvard, Stanford, NYU, Columbia Law School, UC Berkeley, USC, Pepperdine and others. She has lectured on leadership at both the United States Military Academy at West Point and the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, and been invited to keynote the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s annual conference. 

A member of the California Bar Association, Rachael has educated attorneys on the dynamics of sexual abuse at the American Bar Association’s Sports Law Forum, addressed top corporate attorneys on issues of institutional ethics and fiduciary responsibility at NYU Law School, and instructed attorneys at the annual meeting of the Kentucky Bar Association. Additionally, Rachael was the commencement speaker at the graduation ceremony of Brandeis School of Law in 2018.

She has appeared on CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX News, BBC, PBS and NPR and regularly appears in national and international print media, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Der Spiegel, The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, and the Associated Press, and is a New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and Vox op-ed contributor.

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