Clergy Assault Overview
Clergy Sexual Abuse encompasses a range of illegal and unacceptable actions frequently perpetrated on young children and adolescents by predatory priests or other church members involving sexual abuse of varying amounts. The assault can be a single, non-consensual scroll barevent or it can involve many acts inside a continuing interaction. For instance, an ongoing “trusting” relationship with a child created by the predatory behavior of a church associate, cloaked by the trust and respect provided to a priest, leading to non-consensual sexual assault acts of molestation.
In all alleged Priest or Clergy Sexual Abuse scenarios, the short-coming by the Church member’s employer to completely, adequately and immediately disclose the crime to police and other authorities, or the continuing failure to investigate, cope with and deal entirely with the situation increases the harm on the assault survivor, the community and possibly others. Recent Clergy Sexual Assault cases covered in the press show these failures, including “pass-the-trash” situations when the abuser commonly a clergy in the Catholic Church, is secretly moved from one parish to another only to continue his predatory, criminal action on an innocent parish community.
Priest and Clergy Sexual Abuse & Retribution
Not a day passes without a news announcement coverage regarding sexual abuse and molestation of young children by predator clergy, or the aftermath of the assault on the survivors and their families. If clergy abuse Massachusetts are a victim of sexual abuse from a priest or other clergy member, these stories are most likely to act as an echo chamber, replaying the horror, embarrassment, guilt and other unwelcome emotions harming your wellness. Encouraged by the societal movement and other channels that encourage them to reveal the assault they suffered, victims of assault are more frequently employing the legal system to compensate them for the lifelong harm and injury they have experienced.
If you are a survivor of abuse commited by a member of the church, the result of the abuse on your life and foundational belief system may be immeasurable. Nonetheless, holding the responsible church and institutions to blame for their crimes and indifference can offer a measure of justice and recompense to assault survivors. Commonly, survivors can leverage their legal rights through confidential mediation therein avoiding the need for litigation. But, if litigation is necessary, a motion might be filed where the survivor can remain anonymous.
All abusers, to varying amounts, employ predatory tactics which are generally known as grooming, targeting a possible abuse victim. Below is a list of grooming actions used by predators who are in a position of authority in relation to the subordinate young child.
Grooming is a major piece of a predator’s ploy. In a church environment, the clergy member is held as God’s representative. Within this environment, the predator frequently works closely with small amounts of children, identifying each child’s needs, weaknesses and circumstances. Once a victim is located, these vulnerabilities – such as violent family setting, loneliness, low self-esteem, emotional neediness, attention-seeking – might be systematically exploited in the following ways:
A predator will first try to get the child’s trust. This strategy is most difficult to discern as religious communities are often tight-knit and personal relation with clergy is commonplace. Here, the assaulter can pretend genuine interest in the child’s wellbeing and development – both emotional and religious.
As a predator establishes a trusting relationship with the potential child-victim and oftentimes their family members, the child will start to rely more and more on the predator for whatever need it is that the priest is exploiting and fulfilling. The child will devote increased time with the predator, feeling more and more comfortable with the relationship and relying on its stability and security. In addition to attention and affection, the potential target might receive presents from the priest, including valuable, intangible presents like blessings and special recognition.
As the grooming continues, the predator may work to isolate the potential target. This may mean solo counseling sessions, meals or various forms of one-on-one isolated moments.
The predator may begin to de-sensitize the child from reacting negatively to contact, caressing and other actions that lead to sexual interaction. This may start with breaking the physical-touch barrier, or verbally, with inappropriate messages to gauge the victim’s response to the progression. This will continue until the relationship advances to one of a physical, sexual nature.
Once the sexual relationship is established, the predator will work to maintain control over the child and the continuing interaction. The priest will likely seek to manipulate the child by continuing to make the target feel special and worthy. The predator will continue to exploit the victim by whatever ways necessary to maintain the inappropriate physical relationship.
Impact on Clergy Abuse Survivors
The impact of childhood abuse on the victim can be severe and life-changing. Many priest abuse survivors suffer from long-term effects of the abuse including depression, disturbed sleeping, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse and eating patterns, and difficulty creating and maintaining vibrant relationships. Individualized treatment and support groups can help survivors overcome these effects.
Legally, a victim of Priest Sexual Assault may recover financial compensation from the abuser and, more commonly, from the religious organization for its failure to shield the victim from the assault, as well as failures or deficiencies in its method of reviewing and responding to reports of assault. If you are a victim of Priest or Clergy Sexual Assault and would like to confidentially discuss your situation and your legal options, we are ready to talk with you.