Clergy abuse can lead to emotional scars and post-traumatic disorders for life. Here’s what to do when faced with such a problem.
If you know someone who has been the victim of clergy abuse, or if you experienced this unacceptable violation yourself, know that there are now support groups that help you tell your story.
The legal system is now going after abusive priests, unlike the scenario even a few years back. The church has mandated that all sexual abuse allegations be reported to law enforcement agencies. It is now a lot easier for victims to be heard and get their abusers to be held accountable.
Read on to know how you can deal with abuse by a clergy member.
Report the Incident
The first thing anyone should do after being a victim of clergy abuse is to report it to a law enforcement agency. They also need to ask for medical care, which includes getting access to resources for mental health issues as well.
Many people are frightened to report such an incident, especially because it can be really painful. But if you understand exactly what clergy abuse means, you cannot allow it to go unreported. You need to enable law enforcement authorities to act against the priest, no matter how bad you feel about it.
Gathering the strength to come forward and report the incident is commendable. However, such cases involve going through a lot of legal steps which might further overwhelm the victim.
But once the victim is able to report the abuse, it becomes significantly easier to deal with it in the coming days. All across the US, there are lawyers who can help you through the process. Look up California Clergy Sex Abuse Attorney online for stellar legal representation in clergy abuse cases if you are living on the West Coast.
Be Aware of the Statute of Limitations
You will undoubtedly be relieved at finally being able to tell your story and reporting it gives you the time you need to properly build up a case against the abuser and the Catholic Church.
But keep in mind that you have to file the lawsuit against the abuser within a legal timeframe called the statute of limitations.
If you do not file within the time limit, your case will be tossed out on a technicality. When the abuse took place and the location are a few factors that affect the statute of limitations. Some states in the USA have altered the statute for clergy abuse cases so that the victims can seek justice more easily.
Why Should You Hire a Lawyer?
Anyone who has been a victim of clergy sexual abuse is entitled to be compensated. Hiring a lawyer increases the probability of receiving the proper compensation after following the proper case filing processes.
This is important as many Catholic Church dioceses have filed for bankruptcy when charged for compensation or they have appointed legal counsel to protect their position. A lawyer will be able to combat such issues and make sure your claim for compensation stays alive.
What Types of Compensation Can You Expect?
When filing for a clergy abuse lawsuit, the main aim is to recover the highest compensation recoverable. Victims can use this compensation to pay for recovery programs such as mental health services or other medical expenditures.
This can be extra beneficial for those victims who require ongoing treatment. It will help you to know the different types of compensation that can be recovered, so read on.
- Mental Healthcare
This relates to any expenses the victim may have incurred to visit professionals to address mental health issues, buying any prescribed medication, or any therapy that is required to treat the trauma that was inflicted.
- Medical Care
You can be compensated for whatever expenses you’ve incurred to treat the abuse. This includes visits to the hospital, doctor’s bills, tests, and other OTC costs.
You can still be suffering years after the actual abuse took place, and you can be compensated for it in a non-economic way.
What Are Your Rights?
The issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has been going on for decades and it involves people of all ages. The Church is now finally taking action to address these issues and is working with legal authorities to take measures against the accused.
So now the victims have a stronger platform to raise their voices and hold the abuser accountable for whatever harm has been inflicted upon them. The best way to do this is to file a lawsuit claiming compensation for clergy abuse.
Signs That Your Clergy Member Has Inappropriate Intentions
It’s best to be aware of the signs and pre-empt sexual abuse by a clergy member. There are a few ways you can tell in advance if your interaction with the priest is about to get inappropriate. These include:
- If the priest is giving you more time and attention than he is giving others.
- The priest uses flattery during the session and it starts to make you uncomfortable.
- The clergy member offers you personal gifts.
- You get invited by the priest to intimate social occasions.
- During the counseling sessions, you end up discussing their issues more than your own.
- He tries to touch you in an inappropriate way that makes you uncomfortable and confuses you.
If you have been sexually abused by a priest or know a victim, speak out and hold the abuser accountable. The legal system is now more organized, allowing you to get your justice a lot more easily.
So be aware of your rights and hire a good clergy sex abuse lawyer so that what you had to go through does not go unpunished. Remember to be resilient and not give up till you have achieved the proper compensation.