Over the past few months I have been counseling and helping several clients—particularly churches—walk the minefield of allegations of abuse and coverups that happened 10, 20 and even 30 years ago. They are posted on social media and shared as if it was new.
This is not to denigrate or demean such allegations. Let’s face it, many of them, as we have found out in recent months and years, have been all to real and all too true. Leaders of major organizations and industries, including megachurches and ministries, have been exposed.
But why all of a sudden have the numbers increased? Particularly over the past year.
Part of this is undoubtedly due to the ‘me too’ culture. We have seen celebrities, athletes and politicians caught in this web. My friend and former Hollywood scriptwriter and producer, Coleman Luck, has written about this in an excellent book “Day of the Wolf” (Amazon). He examines organizations controlled by predatory individuals who demand obedience and silence in the face of abuse and who punish and destroy those who “betray” them.
However, I am slowly coming to believe that something else is in play in this rash of accusations and exposure.
I am talking about a hidden impact of Covid.
Mental health experts agree that lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, the upsetting of normality, social distance edicts and so on—while critical in fighting the pandemic—are also impacting stress levels and psychological wellness of many individuals.
Normally, they are stable and well-adjusted. But the Isolation, and the total change in human interaction is creating deep frustration because people have no real control over their circumstances. They are angry. They are feeling abused and controlled by circumstances. They have no way to vent. That leads to a downward spiral. They feel abused.
I believe the isolation and frustrations caused by the pandemic might be leading some to remember other times when they were abused or lacked control. Then, just as now, they felt unable to cope, to fight back, to express their anger and humiliation.
That leads to them sharing their story, particularly on social media, as a way of releasing some of their feelings of that time in their lives where they were not in control, were mistreated, and were not listened to.
I may be out to lunch, but I wonder if that isn’t at least partially behind the sudden plethora of posts that detail long-ago wrongs.
That rage, dissatisfaction, and feeling of being ignored and comes boiling up once again.
It means that churches, nursing homes, camps, schools and other such organizations may indeed find themselves on the receiving end of similar accusations and ‘shaming’ posts.
This is particularly difficult for those in current leadership who are totally unaware of these circumstances but are now called upon to investigate, understand and respond to not only the accusers but others who are sharing the posts. All of a sudden, they are called upon to answer for the failures, decisions or actions by previous leadership. It might even be that such cases were resolved years ago, but the stress of pandemic isolation has resurfaced them for individuals to the point they feel compelled to vent. And they share. And friends and supporters become angry so they too share in solidarity with their friend.
I hope and pray that the few groups I am dealing with are the only ones. I hope and pray that you and your organization will not be targeted in this way.
But the possibility may indeed be there, and if so, it is a ticking bomb under your feet.
Are you prepared to deal with it? What happens if the mainstream media respond to the social media posts and want to talk to you about it? Are you ready?