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In an era of reckoning, more people have been coming forward about church sexual abuse. Over the years, it’s become clear that sexual abuse in the church isn’t limited to one denomination, but instead has affected thousands of people from all religious backgrounds. While physical pain may be temporary, clergy sexual abuse can lead to a lifetime of mental, emotional and spiritual trauma.
The Carlson Law Firm has long-held sexual abusers accountable for their despicable actions. Our firm has helped survivors of all ages take a step closer to closure and get the justice they deserve after a sexual assault. The law allows for survivors of church sexual abuse to hold their abusers and the institutions responsible for their injuries accountable. In order to prevent further sexual abuse in religious settings, it is necessary for survivors to come forward and make their voices heard.
Who can perpetrate religious sexual abuse?
Churches are made up of several members. As a result, victims of church sexual abuse can come into contact with abusers at any stage during their religious journey. Abusers can be any of the following:
- Youth leaders
- Church volunteers
- And others
When sexual abuse or assault occurs in a church or at a church event, often, the church will deny responsibility. It is important for you to contact a civil lawyer to help protect your rights.
We can help you hold the following institutions accountable:
- Catholic Church
- Baptist Church
- Episcopal Church
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons)
Southern Baptist Church
More than 700 victims have come forward with instances of sexual abuse implicating more than 380 church leaders over a 20 year period. Most of these predators worked in Texas. According to the Houston Chronicle, “About 220 offenders have been convicted or took plea deals, and dozens of cases are pending. They were pastors. Ministers. Youth pastors. Sunday school teachers. Deacons. Church volunteers.”
Why don’t church sexual abuse victims come forward?
When looking at survivors of sexual abuse, it is important to remember that your ideas about the situation may be coming from a place of privilege. For example, it is a privilege if you a person who has never gone through abuse. As a result, you may not understand why a person won’t come forward while the abuse is happening. Similarly, a person who has been abused, but was taught how to identify inappropriate behavior and molestation may not understand the actions or inaction of a person who was never taught how to recognize and report sexual abuse. However, taking the time to understand why victims may be hesitant to come forward, can shed some light on the delayed response to their situation.
Much like other victims of sexual abuse, victims of church sexual abuse may deal with a significant amount of embarrassment over what has happened to them. Additionally, there is an added layer of respect for the church that may make victims inclined to protect their abusers. Finally, victims may also deal with the risk of being shunned by their families and the larger church community if they come forward with their abuse.
It is OK for church sexual abuse survivors to come forward when they are ready. Sometimes, hearing others speak up can give survivors the courage to speak about what’s happened to them.
Because of the position the church holds for many people, parents and caregivers are sometimes more inclined to trust their children in the care of church leaders.
How can a civil lawsuit help church sexual abuse survivors?
Because survivors of abuse can take years or even decades to come forward, the statute of limitations on criminal charges may have already run out. As a result, they may be able to file a civil lawsuit against the institution that allowed or facilitated the injuries they suffered years before. As mentioned before, survivors often live with a tremendous amount of guilt and shame that has negative effects on their mental health. While the lifelong injuries of a sexual assault are often unseen, they still require medical treatment from medical specialists.
A sexual abuse lawyer can help you recover compensation to help pay for past, present and future medical treatment, as well as other damages.
What injuries are associated with church sexual abuse?
Religious sexual abuse can lead to physical and mental conditions as well as spiritual wounds. These conditions can negatively impact a person for the rest of their life.
Physical injuries can include:
- Damage to reproductive systems
- Gastrointestinal health
Mental injuries can include the following:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Personality disorders
- Issues with romance and relationships
In addition, in an effort to treat themselves for their physical and emotional pain, survivors may begin self-medicating with drugs—leading to struggles with addiction. Further, survivors of abuse may lose their faith as a result of their abuse.
Contact a Church Sexual Abuse Lawyer
The Carlson Law Firm offers free and confidential consultations to survivors of church sexual abuse. Contact a qualified sexual abuse lawyer at 800-359-5690.
We care, we can help