The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is an organization working to support victims of clergy abuse. In the three decades since its creation, the organization has assisted thousands of survivors of institutional sexual abuse across the globe.
What Is SNAP?
SNAP is a nonprofit organization providing support to survivors of abuse by priests and other spiritual leaders. According to their website, “SNAP is an independent, peer network of survivors of institutional sexual abuse and their supporters.” Additionally, the organization works to prevent future abuse by educating the public and advocating for legislation that benefits abuse victims.
History Of SNAP
SNAP was founded by Barbara Blaine in 1988. Blaine is an abuse survivor who understands the lasting trauma caused by Catholic school sex abuse.
As an eighth-grader, Blaine was abused by a priest in her Catholic school in Toledo, Ohio. Years later, she reported the abuse to the Toledo bishop. When the bishop took no action, Blaine looked to other abuse survivors for solace.
Starting with roughly two dozen victims, Blaine created a support network of survivors. Over the next few years, the network grew. In 1991, the first SNAP meeting took place.
In 2002, The Boston Globe published more than 600 articles about priest abuse in the Boston Archdiocese. This was the first major media coverage of priest abuse in modern history.
Following the article, a large number of victims came to SNAP for support. The organization continued to expand in the subsequent years. In 2003, SNAP opened a national office in Chicago, IL.
Today, the organization has more than 25,000 members and offers support groups in more than 60 cities around the world.
Regions With SNAP Chapters
- United States
- South America
- New Zealand
How SNAP Is Supporting Survivors And Their Families
SNAP’s Mission: “Our most powerful tool is the light of truth. Through our actions, we bring healing, prevention and justice.”
The organization meets its mission in several ways:
- SNAP provides survivors with a network to support healing. Survivors and their loved ones can join a support group and share their story with other survivors.
- SNAP advocates for legislative changes to protect children and other vulnerable populations from future sexual abuse.
- SNAP works to prosecute abusers and those who protect abusers.
SNAP Helps Victims Get Legal Justice
SNAP supports victims in their journey towards legal justice as well. The group strives to hold abusive religious leaders, priests and ministers accountable. The organization utilizes several methods to reach these end goals:
- SNAP advocates for the change of laws and legal practices that obstruct justice or protect predators.
- SNAP helps survivors pursue criminal charges and civil lawsuits.
- SNAP supports legislation that makes religious institutions disclose credible accounts of abuse by spiritual leaders.
- SNAP advocates for reforms to statutes of limitations (legal deadlines) that limit criminal prosecution and civil responsibility for abusers.
Although SNAP was started by survivors of Catholic priest abuse, the organization provides support to those abused by religious leaders from many faiths. The group supports victims abused as adults, as well as the families of abuse survivors.
Non-Catholic SNAP Support Groups
SNAP support groups also help victims of abuse in faith groups outside of Catholicism, including:
- Orthodox Christian
- Christian Protestant
- Ritual abuse
- Missionary children
Education And Resources From SNAP
SNAP also focuses on awareness. The organization strives to educate the community about institutional sexual abuse and empower people to get involved.
SNAP creates educational resources for the community and hosts fundraisers. Additionally, the organization recruits volunteers and trains these individuals to be leaders and activists who support survivors.
How Can Victims Access SNAP Resources?
SNAP began as an informal network of friends sharing phone calls and letters of support. Today, victims of abuse can find support through SNAP’s email newsletters, online support groups and in-person meetings. Survivors and their families can view the SNAP list of events on the organization’s website.
SNAP is always available through the organization’s national helpline at 1-877-SNAP-HEALS (7627-43257).
SNAP Resources During COVID-19
Many SNAP support groups have virtual components to accommodate social distancing orders during the coronavirus pandemic. The organization urges survivors and others interested in joining a group to reach out about accommodations.
SNAP is one organization attempting to make a difference for victims of priest abuse. Thanks to the efforts of SNAP, many survivors have started their healing journey. If you are a survivor of child sexual abuse, you are not alone. There are many avenues survivors can take to find comfort, healing and justice.
SNAP. (2020, March 16). SNAP Can Help Cut Through Isolation during “Social Distancing.”
SNAP. (N.D.) SNAP Mission Statement.
SNAP. (N.D.) Locations.
SNAP. (N.D.) Support Groups.