Sexual abuse is always tragic. When you’re abused by someone you trust, especially a member of your church, the abuse becomes that much more devastating. However, there is hope, as there are more resources for clergy abuse victims today than ever before. Because of the sensitive nature of the topic, however, many people are unaware of the circumstances surrounding potential lawsuits against clergy-associated abusers. To help you find the right path forward, here are eight important facts you should know about clergy abuse lawsuits:
1. There is Help Out There
Victims of sexual assault and abuse often feel as though no one will be there to help them if they come forward. In reality, this is far from the truth, as many people within your community will be there to support you. In legal terms, there are professional clergy abuse lawyers who are ready and willing to assist you in gaining the restitution you deserve.
2. They’ve Led to Multimillion-Dollar Settlements
While only some cases reach these numbers, there are high-profile individual clergy abuse lawsuits that have ended up costing the church many millions of dollars. In some cases, the numbers involved in these settlements have been even higher than $300 million. Victims deserve a payout that can help them reclaim their lives and move forward after being abused, after all.
3. The Problem Extends to All Major Religions
Catholic churches have often been placed in the spotlight when it comes to religiously-affiliated sexual abuse cases. That being said, most major religions have had issues with clerics, priests, and other officials abusing staff members and congregation members. No matter what denomination you may be, there is legal help out there if you’ve been abused by one of your church leaders. And the problem of church-associated sexual abuse is prevalent in nearly every country as well.
4. Not All Abusers are Men
When people think of abusers, they often default to that abuser being a man. However, many abusive members of the clergy are women. While this will not affect the outcome of your case, this fact is important to repeat, as many victims have difficulty coming forward when their abuser is a woman. Ending this harmful stigma is everyone’s responsibility.
5. Clergy Members are Required to Report Child Abuse
Even if a child abuse (or any sexual abuse) allegation is made in a confessional, the church is required by law to report these instances to the proper authorities. If it’s determined that the church actively covered up for your abuser, they can face much harsher criminal and financial penalties. Having thorough documentation for your case will help it move through the system much faster as well.
6. Average Settlements are Around $150-350K
Although multi-million dollar settlements do happen, the average payout in these abuse cases is closer to $150-350K. This money will help you reclaim your life, and deal with the emotional and financial fallout of your abuse. In some cases, there may even be independent compensation programs you can reach out to for financial assistance. Simply ask your clergy abuse lawyer what option is most likely to help you gain the restitution that you deserve.
7. There is No Statute of Limitation in Several States
Many abuse victims wait until they are adults to tell their stories. By this time, many of them assume that they can no longer bring a suit against their abusers, due to the statute of limitations. However, there are nearly fifteen states that have gotten rid of SOL laws for sexual abuse victims. If you’re uncertain about how your state’s SOL laws may affect your case, you should contact a qualified clergy abuse lawyer to help you find the answers you deserve.
8. Specialized Organizations Exist to Help Victims
There’s a huge swath of compassionate organizations out there that exists solely to help the victims of clergy abuse. These organizations are filled with people who can help you find legal help, mental health support, and much more. Additionally, many of the people who work in these organizations are fellow victims, who understand what you’re going through. They can help you deal with the anxiety that goes along with bringing a lawsuit against your abuser.
Find Help Today
Because of the mass amount of support that exists for clergy abuse victims, there will never be a day when you won’t be able to find help. Victims of sexual abuse deserve compensation and communal support. With the right people by your side, you will finally find the peace of mind that you’ve been looking for.