It is distressing and challenging to experience abuse at the hands of a clergyperson. Many victims of this kind of abuse have opted not to come forward because of the shame that is frequently attached to it. However, as more victims have come forward, their courage has encouraged others to listen to their tales and seek compensation through the judicial system. Here are just six important facts that everyone should know about clergy abuse, and the lawsuits they lead to:
1. It’s Not a Catholic-Only Problem
When it comes to allegations of sexual abuse committed by members of certain religions, Catholic churches are frequently in the news. Nevertheless, there have been cases of clergy members, priests, and other officials mistreating employees and congregants in most major religions. There is legal assistance available if you have been mistreated by a member of your church leadership, regardless of your denomination. Additionally, the issue of sexual abuse in the church is widespread in almost every nation. With the help of a lawyer experienced with clergy abuse cases, you can get the restitution process started, and seek out the compensation that you deserve.
2. Not All Abusive Clergy Members are Men
People frequently assume that abusers are men, especially when looking into clergy abuse lawsuits and statistics. However, there is a substantial amount of abusive clergy members that are female. It is crucial to reiterate this fact, even if it will not have an impact on the outcome of your case, because many victims find it difficult to report their abusers when they have been abused by a woman. It is everyone’s duty to eradicate this damaging stigma so that all victims feel comfortable coming forward and seeking out the help they need to heal from their traumatic experiences.
3. A Large Number of States Have No Statute of Limitations
Unfortunately, many abuse victims hold off on sharing their stories until they are adults. Many of them now believe that the statute of limitations has passed and that they will be unable to file a lawsuit against their abusers. That being said, almost fifteen states have done away with SOL rules for victims of sexual abuse. Contact a knowledgeable clergy abuse attorney to assist you in getting the answers you need if you’re unsure how your state’s SOL rules may apply to your case. Doing so can help you approach your case more effectively, and ensures that you do not miss out on your legal window to seek the justice you’re craving.
4. Seek Out Specialized Clergy Abuse Organizations for Additional Support
There are a sizable number of charitable organizations that exist expressly to aid clergy abuse victims. People who can help you locate legal assistance, mental health support, and other services are abundant in these organizations. Furthermore, many of the staff members of these organizations are also victims who can relate to your situation. They can assist you in managing the stress associated with filing a lawsuit against your abuser and point you to support groups that can help you further understand the extent of the trauma that you’ve been through in the past.
5. Churches and Clergy Members are Legally Required to Report Abuse
Even if a claim of child abuse (or any other form of sexual abuse) is made in a confessional, the church must nonetheless report these incidents to the appropriate authorities, per legal requirements. If a church has deliberately shielded your abuser, they may be subject to considerably harsher legal and financial consequences. The system will proceed through your case much more quickly if you have complete documentation, so be sure to keep all information related to your case safely filed away in a single location. Giving backups of these documents to someone you trust, and/or a legal professional is also highly recommended.
6. Multi-Million Dollar Settlements Are Possible
There have been high-profile individual clergy abuse lawsuits that have cost the church millions. While only a small percentage of cases have reached these levels, they do exist. These settlements have sometimes involved sums that are much higher than $300 million. Abuse victims deserve a settlement that can assist them in taking back their lives and moving on. This financial support ensures they can seek out all the support services they need to deal with their traumatic experiences.
Help is Available When You’re Ready
Many victims have made the incredibly difficult decision to remain silent about their abuse due to the terrible impact of being assaulted by a church member. But there is a way forward for victims if they’re able or ready to step forward. You can contact independent compensation organizations to assist you to find the justice and compensation you deserve, even if SOL laws in your state bar a formal lawsuit.