What to Expect in a Clergy Abuse Lawsuit
Approximately 20% of girls and 5% of boys are victims of some form of sexual abuse. This type of abuse often occurs from someone that the victim knows and trusts.
Unfortunately, a common occurrence is for clergy members of the Catholic church or other large institutions to take advantage of children and adolescents.
Even if the abuse happened many years ago,you can still seek compensation for the distress it has caused you and the negative impact it’s had upon your life.
But, not everyone knows how to go about this process.
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about and how to handle a clergy sexual abuse lawsuit.
Understand That You Are Not Alone
A common reason why abused children never come forward is the belief that nobody will believe them. After all, you are young and the abuser is most probably a respected member of society. This feeling of isolation often continues until and through adulthood, leaving victims without the belief or confidence needed to take action.
Unfortunately, this issue is often exacerbated due to clergy having significant connections within the church and even in governmental circles. They may even be told by their abusers – Something along the lines of “it’s my word against yours” “who do you think they will believe?”
In other cases, they may experience more direct forms of intimidation, such as threats or violence.
But, you’re not alone in your situation.
In fact, over 3 billion dollars have been paid out to the victims of clergy abuse, highlighting both the high number of victims and the high success rate of the lawsuits filed against clergy members.
So, keep in mind that there are thousands of other victims like you who are seeking help and taking legal action against their abusers– even if it’s years down the road.
Common Complications of Clergy Abuse
Childhood sexual abuse (especially by someone like a clergy member who the child trusts) can have longlasting detrimental effects on the victim’s mental health.
Let’s take a look at a few that can be traced back to an incident of clergy sexual abuse.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
This is one of the most common effects of abuse, and it can manifest in many forms.
Some victims may experience chronic nightmares or other feelings of helplessness or terror. Others might have occasional flashbacks to the moment of abuse.
Untreated PTSD can lead the victim down a path of increasingly self-destructive behavior.
Many victims also turn to the abuse of controlled substances as a method of coping with their own abuse. As with PTSD, this could come in a handful of different forms.
Barbiturates, alcohol, and prescription drugs are common choices for those who get caught up in substance abuse. Long-term abuse (or combining different substances simultaneously) has a high possibility of causing severe health complications.
Developing an addiction is also nearly guaranteed, as victims continually seek new ways to numb their pain.
Trouble Handling New Relationships
This is a less obvious symptom of childhood sexual abuse, but it’s a fairly common one.
Those who have been abused by clergy members may find themselves having difficulty in speaking to people about their personal issues or showing affection. They may also find themselves uncomfortable around men.
Trouble forming new relationships can be difficult to trace back to childhood abuse due to having a large number of other possible causes. But, those who have been abused by clergy members will often experience this issue in the future.
Understand That There May Be a Statute of Limitations
Depending on which state you live in, you could have a limited amount of time to report your abuse.
Some states require you to report the crime within a few years after it has occurred. Other states require you to report it from the date you discover the abuse. New York was on the cutting edge when they created a new one year window for clergy lawsuits to be filed e.g. New York Child Victims Act
The term “discover” in this scenario can refer to either the realization that abuse has occurred or the recollection of repressed memories.
For example, a child might not be aware that abuse is occurring. As an adult, they may realize one day (often after some form of counseling) that they were sexually abused by a member of the clergy.
From here, the next option is to seek assistance from a legal professional to help you obtain compensation for the damages against you.
You can find a full list of states and their statutes of limitations here.
What To Keep in Mind While Seeking an Attorney
In order to get compensation for your case, you’ll need to find a competent legal professional. This is someone who’s been practicing for years and specializes in representing victims of clergy abuse.
Even if you have a cohesive story, physical evidence, and witnesses to back you up, you’ll still need a lawyer to help you navigate the twists and turns of courtroom proceedings.
Another issue is not everyone has the finances to pay their living expenses while their litigation progresses. The result is many victims forego seeking damages due to their lack of funds. You must be healthy and available as a witness,locally,if you want to receive the most compensation possible. This all costs money you may not have.
Fortunately, financing options exist for those who aren’t able to pay their living costs. And it’s likely not as difficult as you think.
You can find out more here about litigation financing options and decide which one is right for you.
Dealing With a Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Can Seem Difficult
But it doesn’t have to be.
With the above information about clergy sexual abuse in
mind, you’ll be well on your way to getting the compensation that you deserve.
Want to learn more about getting funding for your lawsuit? Our Homepage has plenty of useful info.
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