Addressing Sexual Assault and Abuse Worship Resources

Many churches shy away from speaking about sexual assault and abuse in worship. We are afraid of saying the wrong thing, of reopening painful wounds, of making people uncomfortable. But in our silence, we speak volumes. We send a message to survivors of sexual assault and abuse that their stories and their pain do not belong in worship.

Yet when we address sexual assault and abuse with care, worship can be both an agent of healing in Christ and a powerful voice for ending sexual harassment, abuse, and violence.

Here are some resources for working toward a future in which women and men alike are treated with dignity, respect, and love through worship.

Guidelines for Addressing Sexual Abuse, Harassment, and Violence in Worship

It's important to make your worship feel like a safe place for people who have experienced sexual assault or abuse to share their stories and heal. These guidelines will help you acknowledge and speak against sexual assault and abuse in your worship in a way that supports the healing of those who have experienced it. 

Service of Lament and Prayer Liturgy

A worship leader who was abused by her husband worked with her pastor to develop this liturgy for a service of healing both for her personally and for her church, where her husband had also attended. (Read the story here.) They have given other churches permission to adapt the liturgy to bring healing in their communities. 

Sample We Are Speaking Sunday Service

Hold a service like this one focused on intentionally speaking out for an end to sexual assault and abuse. 

Psalm 131 Prayer of Response and Reflection

This prayer may fit well in a service that speaks about sexual violence, but it could also be used in other worship contexts to express the safety we find in the arms of Jesus.

A Song of Christ's Goodness - Anselm of Canterbury

This medieval prayer, written by a Benedictine monk, speaks poignantly of the healing we find in Christ. 

A Prayer for Women and Survivors

Ellie Wilber originally offered this prayer at City of Church of Long Beach (RCA). 

Evangelical Covenant Church resources for Domestic Violence Awareness Sunday

Resources from the Women's Inter-Church Council of Canada

Hymn/Song Suggestions

*For Such a Time as This - #867 Lift Up Your Hearts hymnal (to the tune of Amazing Grace, words by Dr. Carol Bechtel)

*Gather Us In  - #529 in Lift Up Your Hearts hymnal, #8 Sing! A New Creation

*Open Our Eyes (Come and bring light to a people in darkness) - #297 Lift Up Your Hearts hymnal, #263 Sing! A New Creation

*They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love - #256 Lift Up Yours Hearts hymnal

*Come, Live in the Light (We Are Called) #296 Lift Up Your Hearts hymnal

*O God, When Trust Is Shattered (to the tune of O Sacred Head Now Wounded)


Rev. April Fiet curated these We Are Speaking worship resources as part of the RCA's Women's Transformation and Leadership initiative. If you have any questions, please direct them to aprilfiet@gmail.com