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New approach to curb abuse and aid victims

An American non-profit group, It Works, has unveiled a new web site, VictimPower, which will open a confidential channel of communication between abuse victims and authorities. The group has harnessed the power of modern technology in a radical new effort to curb child abuse.

The VictimPower initiative is designed to encourage victims to report abuse, by protecting their anonymity unless or until they are ready to come forward. At the same time, the web site will provide a way to hold authorities accountable for their response to complaints, and construct a thorough data base that could guide investigators in tracing abusers.

According to Catholic World News, the VictimPower site was designed and will be operated by a team of students from universities scattered across the US. Although the site was originally conceived as a response to the sex-abuse crisis within the Catholic Church, the technology can be used to respond to any sort of abuse.

The VictimPower web site assists an abuse victim in registering his complaint, guiding him through a series of questions that help to identify the authorities in the Church, in law-enforcement, or elsewhere who should take an interest in his report. The web site allows the victim to check back and see what response these authorities have made; it also allows the authorities to ask him further questions, without compromising his anonymity.

"VictimPower is new hope for victims," said Diane Galebach, the director of It Works and leader in developing the site. She explained that many abuse victims are reluctant to come forward. The new web site allows them to report abuse without divulging their identity.

New approach to curb abuse, aid victims (Catholic World News 7/1/05)

US Conference of Catholic Bishops: Restoring Trust - a Response to Sexual Abuse
Victim Power

US clergy abuse payout exceeds $A128m (CathNews 5/1/05)
Study finds US Catholics angry over handling of scandals (CathNews 11/11/04)
Bishop says church has 'turned corner' on sex abuse crisis (CathNews 11/11/03)
Vatican expected to back US bishops on abuse strategy (CathNews 25/9/02)
Vatican receives US church's policy on dealing with sexually abusive priests (CathNews 4/7/02)

10 Jan 2005