Supporters of Ruth-Ann Klassen Shantz speak out on her behalf
Re: “Decades-old sexual abuse comes to light,” Sept. 10, page 13.
We have known Ruth-Ann Klassen Shantz for 20 years as a strong, confident woman, not knowing that underneath she was trapped in the living hell of a traumatized teen.
We have supported Ruth-Ann as she chose to make her account of grooming and sexual abuse public, to encourage others to break the silence that the perpetrator skillfully manipulates in his victims. We have been privy to emails and documents along the way which we hold in confidence.
This was not a relationship. This was sexual abuse! The perpetrator was in a position of power, and was married with a family. Ruth-Ann was a minor. We would have liked to have seen a photo of the perpetrator included with the story, along with an invitation for others to come forward and a list of resources available to survivors.
We applaud Silver Lake Camp for honouring her story, providing support, updating its policies and developing an educational program.
We have great empathy for all families who are themselves victims of the secrecy and manipulation of a perpetrator, someone they have known and loved as quite a different person. However, we believe that in order to stop the abuse, these important stories must be told, so that victims can seek help without having to suffer for decades, so that the rest of us have greater understanding of the pain they are suffering, and so that perpetrators know their despicable behaviour will not be tolerated.
We applaud Ruth-Ann for her strength and courage to speak her truth and break the decades of silence. It is a sacred privilege to walk with her on this journey. We know that one day she will not just survive, but she will thrive.
—Doreen and Dale Good, Waterloo, Ont.
Marie and Clare Jantzi, Waterloo, Ont.
Church needs to find ‘language’ to support sexual abuse survivors
Re: “Broken boundaries” editorial, Sept. 10, page 2, and “Decades-old sexual abuse comes to light,” Sept. 10, page 13.
Regarding the Facebook comments on the language used in the article, I don’t think people were calling on Canadian Mennonite to “condemn the accused perpetrator.” Rather, I think they were drawing attention to the imbalance between couching the reported abuse—using words like “claim” and “allegation”—when the response from Lawrence Pentelow is not presented in similar terms. His response has not been tested in court either, but it is handled differently.
I can understand some of the tensions in walking the line of what language might expose CM to legal issues, and I’m very glad CM has shared this story, and the associated resources in the editorial.
As a church body, I think we have important work to do in finding language that expresses our steadfast support for the survivors of sexual abuse in the vast majority of cases that will never go to court.
—Matthew Froese, Facebook comment