The Council of Victims and Survivors 2015-2019

Who We Are

The Council of Victims and Survivors is a political panel which was constituted in March 2015. The current 11 members of the Council all personally experienced sexual violence in very different contexts and have been working either professionally or voluntarily on this subject for years. As a result, each individual is able to draw on both personal experience and specific expert knowledge.

The members of the Council of Victims and Survivors work on a voluntary basis. The emphasis of their work is political, which means, for example, writing assessments on specific subjects, either publicly or in the form of letters to the relevant persons, or in an advisory function (e.g. for the Safe Sport initiative or the preparation of the S3 guidelines on child protection).

The aim of this is for the concerns of as many victims and survivors as possible to be heard at federal level and made public.

In addition, there is close collaboration with the Advisory Board of the Independent Commissioner regarding co-operation in the concept groups and participation in plenary sittings.

The Council of Victims and Survivors meets approximately five times a year in Berlin, however there is an active exchange of views during the other times, for example, concerning the working groups and the concept groups of the Advisory Board with the Independent Commissioner. The Council of Victims and Survivors itself is responsible for the content of the menu section “Council of Victims and Survivors”.

Members of the Council of Victims and Survivors

Renate Bühn

(Born 1962, Bremen). Degree in social pedagogy, educational consultant, artist, active in political self-help and prevention for 30 years. In 1985, she was co-founder of the first self-help group in Darmstadt; 1987-1994, she founded and built up the Wildwasser counselling centre in Darmstadt. In 1990, she launched the anonymous series of publications on self-help – the first federal forum for women who were victims of abuse, in order to be visible as experts. Since 2001, she has built up and developed the touring exhibition “Was sehen Sie Frau Lot?” (What do you see Ms Lot?), an artistic examination of exposure to sexualized violence of girls, boys and women – against protection of the perpetrator. Educational consultant for the gender-conscious prevention of violence with young girls, as well as the qualification of multipliers on gender, diversity, direct and structural violence.

Bühn: “We are not looking back at a five, but rather a 30-year abuse scandal. In the Council of Victims and Survivors, I would like, from the viewpoint of 30 years of feminist expertise and experience, to contribute to the subject together with other victims and survivors and draw up recommendations and social strategies which fundamentally focus on cause, extent and unrecorded cases. Prevention concepts must be anchored in schools and education, and protection and support for those affected has to be the central focus.”

Kerstin Claus

(Born 1969, Rhineland Palatinate). Journalist (M.A.), studied at Ludwig-Maximillian University (LMU) in Munich (modern German literature, social and economic history, German as a foreign language) and Syrucuse University (broadcast journalism, M.S. – Fulbright scholarship). Unsuccessfully filed a complaint of sexual abuse in 2003 against the Bavarian Evangelical Church. In 2010, publication of the allegations, followed by years of tough negotiations with an unsatisfactory outcome.

Claus: “The inquiry into sexual abuse has to focus on the victim and be transparent. This can only be achieved by an independent commission which has distance to the institution, and whose powers have to be deferred to by the institutions. I want to promote just such a strong Inquiry Commission. A further field of focus is the improvement of the procedure in the context of the social compensation law (OEG/BVG) for victims of sexual abuse, as well as securing the range of benefits, also for the future.”

Sonja Jetter

(Born 1988, Baden-Wuerttemberg). Mother of three children, is a passionate peace activist in the Middle East conflict and works with refugees. She was affected by familial abuse with a strongly religious background in her childhood and wants to encourage victims and survivors to speak openly about happened to them.

Jetter: “Nobody is ashamed if they are a victim in a car crash. Why is it then the case if you are a victim of abuse? This shame and the silence are breeding grounds for further acts, therefore it is our duty to break this cycle. And especially as a victim, you have every right to enjoy the rest of the life to the full. Nobody has to remain in the role of a victim.”

Dorina Kolbe

(Born 1971, Lower Saxony). Commercial clerk, political activist, blogger and net activist, keen photographer and pilgrim. She is a member of the advisory board for the Lower Saxony Federal Sport Association project “Protection against sexualized violence towards children and adolescents in sport: prevention, intervention, capacity to act”.

Kolbe: “As a victim, I bring my experience from health, criminal and compensation law into the political process. I use all possible options available to exert an influence on the work of inquiry as well as identify, analyse and push through the interests of victims and survivors. Above all, the support and compensation of victims and survivors for optimal health care as a prerequisite to improve individual quality of life are close to my heart.”

Claas Löppmann

(Born 1988, Lower Saxony). State-certified pre-school teacher, pedagogy of childhood B.A. At present, doing an M.A in Baden-Wuerttemberg to become a child educationalist. One of many victims and survivors in a leisure centre for children and young people in Lower Saxony. 

Löppmann: “There was a time when I did not have the confidence to say anything. Now is the time to speak out to give strength to other girls and boys so they do not suffer in silence. I would like to use the mix of professional background knowledge and personal experience to empower people in an educational context to confront sexual abuse.”

Tamara Luding

(Born 1977, Bavaria). Paediatric nurse, preschool teacher, trauma pedagogue (pp), initiator and manager of the association “Schutzhöhle e.V.” – association for the Inquiry and prevention of sexual abuse on children. She has worked for many years on the subject of sexualized violence. She advises victims and survivors, develops prevention projects for kindergartens and schools and gives lectures to experts in the field of pedagogy, psychology medicine and law. She is co-founder of the “Network against sexual violence for Upper Franconia, Vogtlandkreis and Thuringia”, and is active in the German Society for Prevention and Intervention e.V.

Luding: “My two main priorities are the financing of counselling centres and the implementation of the subject in the training of educational staff. In my work in the Council of Victims and Survivors, I see a great chance to drive forward both of these important aspects.”

Wibke Müller

(Born 1982, Freiburg). Graduated in political science; scientific assistant at the University of Freiburg; co-organiser of the first federal congress of victims and survivors “Aus unsere Sicht” (From our point of view) in 2010; since 2009, she has done voluntary work for Wildwasser Berlin e.V.; since 2011, chairwoman of Wildwasser Berlin e.V.

Müller: “Sexualised violence against children is a human rights violation. We have to analyse and scrutinize societal structures which enable and cover up the abuse of power directed at children, including sexual violence. The secured financing of counselling centres, nationwide preventive and intervention measures, and critical research which focuses on the abuse of power are my particular concerns. I would like to contribute to ensuring that the subject does not disappear again from the political agenda. For this, we need international networks and alliances, because sexualized violence is a global issue.”

Jürgen Wolfgang Stein

(Born 1953, Saxony-Anhalt). M.A., grew up in Saxony. After his A’levels, he studied and graduated in public administration, then successfully studied for an M.A. in psychology and education, as well as completing a higher education course in child and youth psychotherapy (Gestalt therapy). Jürgen Wolfgang Stein has worked as a civil servant for 40 years, initially for the federal government, then for his home town Neunkirchen/Saar (lastly as director of youth welfare) and from the fall of the wall until today, for the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt. He has carried out 15,000 hours of volunteer work in mainly senior positions, for example, from 1994 to 2006 as the founding chairman of the German Child Protection Agency, the regional association of Saxony-Anhalt e.V., and he is an active member of Mensa in Germany (LocSec Saxony-Anhalt). His specialist subject is the power of resistance (resilience).

Stein: “The knowledge of experts is incomplete without the knowledge that comes from experience. In over 10 years of my childhood where I was abused by my father, I developed strength which I can use to protect children from sexual violence. Act decisively against abuse.”

Alex Stern

(No details of age, North Rhine-Westphalia). Studies educational science (M.A.); alongside his studies, he is committed to sexual and gender self-determination in a university context. His thematic focus is on ritualised/organised sexualised violence and its consequences and how to deal with people who have experienced sexualised violence from a social and psychiatric viewpoint.

Stern: “I consider it a matter of urgency to change the way society deals with [complex] traumatised people. I would like to contribute to this in the context of my membership in the Council of Victims and Survivors.”

Corinna Thalheim

(Born 1967, Saxony). Victim of abuse whilst in residential care in the GDR (youth detention centre), CEO of the Victims and Survivors Action Group “Abuse in GDR residential care homes e.V.”, committee member on the “Additional Help System Fund Sexual Abuse”, group leader of the only federal self-help group for sexual abuse in GDR residential care homes “Verbogene-Seelen”.

Thalheim: “My main objective is that sexual abuse is no longer a taboo subject and inquiry and analysis are my aims.”

Hjördis E. Wirth

(Born 1960, Berlin). Teacher in primary school and school for children with learning difficulties, businesswoman in wholesale and export trade, teacher in commercial professional training for people with disabilities. Supporter of the Lichtstrahlen Oldenburg Association e.V. and administrator of the associated forum. The association promotes inquiry, public relations work and support of victims and survivors of ritual and/or organised sexualised violence who are battling with the consequences of severe traumatisation (dissociative disorders, among other things), and whose credibility is frequently questioned.

Wirth: “Important issues from my point of view are: application of victim compensation law in favour of victims and survivors, guidelines to monitor the work and professional qualifications of the experts. I hope that we as victims and survivors can contribute with our knowledge and experience to societal changes actually being initiated.”

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