Clergy Assault Overview
Church Abuse includes a wide-range of illegal and heinous acts commonly perpetrated against kids and tweens by pedophilic clergy or other church employees involving sexual assault of varying amounts. The sexual assault may be a single, non-consensual scroll barencounter or it can involve several acts inside a continuing interaction. For example, a continuing “trusting” relationship with a child created by the predatory behavior of a clergy member, cloaked with the trust and reverence provided to a priest, leading to non-consensual sexual assault acts of molestation.
Within all claimed Priest or Clergy Sexual Abuse scenarios, the failure by the Clergy member’s employer to fully, adequately and promptly report the offense to police and other authorities, or its continuing failure to research, contend with and deal fully with the occurrence increases the effects on the abuse survivor, the community and potentially others. Recent Priest Sexual Abuse cases reported in the media show these short-comings, including “pass-the-trash” situations when the abuser oftentimes a clergy in the Catholic Church, is secretly re-assigned from one church to another merely to continue his predatory, criminal action on an innocent parish community.
Priest and Clergy Sexual Assault and Justice
Not a day goes by without a media headline reporting regarding sexual assault and molestation of young children by predator priests, or the legacy of the abuse on the survivors and their families. If you are a survivor of sexual abuse from a priest or other church member, these articles are most likely to serve as an echo chamber, replaying the horror, shame, guilt and other unwelcome emotions hurting your well-being. Encouraged by the societal movement and other channels that encourage them to disclose the assault they experienced, survivors of abuse are more frequently employing the legal system to compensate them for the life-long damage and injury they have suffered.
If you are a victim of assault perpetrated by a priest, the result of the abuse on your life and foundational belief system might be incalculable. Regardless, holding the responsible person and institutions to blame for their crimes and failures may offer an amount of justice and recompense to abuse survivors. Oftentimes, victims can leverage their legal rights in confidential mediation therein avoiding the need for litigation. However, if litigation is required, a case may be filed where the survivor can remain anonymous.
All predators, to varying degrees, use predatory methods that are generally referred to as grooming, aiming at a possible abuse victim. Following is a list of grooming actions exhibited by predators who are in a position of authority in relation to the subordinate young child.
Grooming is a major part of a predator’s ploy. In a religious setting, the priest is held as God’s representative. In this environment, the predator frequently works closely with small amounts of children, understanding each child’s needs, vulnerabilities and situations. Once a victim is located, these vulnerabilities – such as tumultuous family setting, loneliness, low self-esteem, emotional neediness, attention-seeking – can be systematically leveraged in the following ways:
A predator will initially try to get the child’s trust. This strategy is most difficult to discern as church communities are often tight-knit and personal interaction with clergy is commonplace. Here, the predator can feign genuine concern in the child’s wellbeing and groeth – both emotional and religious.
As a predator establishes a trusting relationship with the potential target and oftentimes their family members, the child will start to rely more and more on the predator for whatever need it is that the predator is exploiting and fulfilling. The child will spend more time with the priest, feeling more and more comfortable with the relationship and relying on its stability and security. In addition to attention and affection, the potential victim may receive presents from the priest, including valuable, intangible presents like blessings and special recognition.
As the grooming escalates, the predator might work to isolate the possible target. clergy lawsuit Vermont might result in individual counseling sessions, meals or various methods of one-on-one isolated moments.
The predator will start to de-sensitize the child from reacting negatively to contact, caressing and other actions that lead to sexual interaction. This might begin with breaking the physical-touch barrier, or verbally, with inappropriate messages to gauge the victim’s reaction to the progression. This will escalate until the relationship gets to one of a physical, sexual nature.
Once the sexual relationship is established, the predator will try to maintain control of the child and the continued interaction. The priest will likely want to manipulate the child by continuing to make the victim feel special and worthy. The predator will continue to exploit the victim by whatever means needed to maintain the immoral physical relationship.
Impact on Clergy Abuse Survivors
The effect of childhood abuse on the survivor can be severe and life-changing. Many priest abuse survivors suffer from lifelong effects of the abuse including depression, disturbed sleeping, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse and eating patterns, and difficulty establishing and keeping vibrant relationships. Individualized treatment and support groups can help victims overcome these effects.
Legally, a victim of Clergy Sexual Assault can recover financial compensation from the abuser and, more commonly, from the church for its failure to shield the child from the assault, as well as failures or deficiencies in its process of reviewing and responding to reports of assault. If you are a survivor of Priest or Clergy Sexual Abuse and would like to confidentially discuss your experience and your legal options, we are prepared to talk with you.