by Deirdre C. Mays
CHARLESTON – Louisa Storen, a licensed independent social worker and marriage and family therapist from Mount Pleasant, has been selected as the Diocese of Charleston’s new victim assistance minister.
As part of its policy concerning child sexual abuse by church personnel created in 1994, the diocese works to promote healing for all parties involved or affected by abuse. The victim assistance minister is a licensed mental health professional appointed by the bishop to provide resources for professional support services to victims, their families and other people deemed appropriate in matters related to sexual misconduct or abuse of a child by diocesan personnel.
“My role as victim assistance minister is to work with Christian care, concern, support and healing to the people involved, such as the alleged victim, family, schoolmates, parish members and the accused,” said Storen who began her work in May.
A special telephone line has been set up for any victim or family or a member of a congregation who has questions or concerns or any therapist working with a victim or family. She will also refer alleged offenders for treatment. The number is (800) 204-7955.
The victim assistance minister works directly with the Office of the Vicar General.
Al Payne, assistant to the vicar general, explained that when an allegation is made to the diocese, the victim assistance minister will make immediate contact with the alleged victim and or the family of the victim to offer spiritual, pastoral and or professional counseling and or medical assistance. This offer is made without admission of civil liability on the part of the diocese.
“However, the minister is an impartial entity and is not involved in determining the validity of the allegations and does not participate or provide information for investigations,” Payne said.
Storen has been working in the mental health field in South Carolina for 24 years. She is in private practice. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina and a master of Social Work degree from the University of South Carolina.
A lifelong Catholic, Storen is an active member of Christ Our King. She will bring her faith to her ministry.
“This position has given me an opportunity to use some of the experiences I have had working with victims,” she said. “All the resources I know in the community can be used to assist and support victims and congregations.”