Victims of sexual abuse deal with long-lasting mental health issues post-abuse. When you’re abused by someone you trust – especially a member of your church – the issues that can arise are often much more severe. Those looking to recover from the effects of their abuse, and who want to bring their abuser to justice, need as much support as possible to successfully navigate this difficult process.
However, with the right know-how and support, you can bring your abuser to justice, and receive the compensation that you deserve as a victim. For those who need a path forward, here are three steps for seeking help after being abused by a clergy member:
1. Reaching Out to Support Organizations
Victims of clergy sexual abuse tend to experience mental health obstacles for decades post-abuse. This abuse can lead to debilitating mental health conditions in some victims and makes their lives much more difficult as a result. To ensure their safety, all victims should seek mental health support if at all possible. Thankfully, many fantastic, compassionate organizations have been created to ensure victims of clergy sexual abuse have somewhere to turn to.
These organizations are made up of fellow victims, supportive mental health professionals, and oftentimes members of the church who are dedicated to bringing abusive priests to justice. Alongside these organizations, victims can hire a clergy abuse lawyer who can help them file a suit against their abuser.
After all, victims deserve to be compensated by the church for the abuse they’ve suffered. Once you’ve found an organization you feel comfortable with, you’ll be well on your way to recovering from the adverse effects that your abuser forced upon you when they decided to abuse you.
2. Seeking Further Mental Health Assistance
Beyond looking into group organizations that are set up for mental health and legal support, victims must seek out one-on-one mental health assistance as well. Seeing a psychiatrist is particularly recommended, as this can help you unpack the trauma in a more intimate, specific fashion.
While this process can be trying, psychiatrists can ensure that you pinpoint the exact ways that your past abuse has affected your psyche, mental health, and current lifestyle. Keeping your personal info protected during this step is also highly recommended. In doing so, they can help you build a path toward reclaiming your life post-abuse. In some cases, medication may be needed to help you through these difficult times.
The evidence that can be gathered during these more intimate mental health sessions can be applied to your suit against your abuser as well. For those who are uncomfortable with psychiatry, more traditional therapy and psychology sessions can provide similar benefits to their mental health. Friends and family members can be an amazing source of mental health support during these times as well.
Ultimately, you’ll know in your heart what option is best for you. Learning to trust yourself with these decisions regarding your mental health is a big part of the larger healing process.
3. Hiring a Quality Clergy Abuse Lawyer
As we mentioned before, hiring a quality clergy abuse lawyer is a surefire way to increase your chances of gaining the restitution you deserve from the church and your abuser. If you want to hold your abuser accountable for their actions, the legal system is your best option for doing so.
In most states, the statute of limitations regarding clergy sexual abuse cases have been lifted, allowing victims who could not come out about their experiences until adulthood a legal path forward. However, this is unfortunately not the case in every state – so consulting your chosen clergy abuse lawyer about your options, and how SOL laws may affect your case, is an absolute must.
The process of filing a suit, going through a trial, and reaching a monetary settlement can be incredibly confusing and stressful. Due to this, you need a professional who can be your spokesperson during these difficult times. Trying to handle this type of high-profile case on your own is ill-advised. Because there are so many different legal factors that have to be considered, and often a lot of paperwork is involved, it’s best to leave these duties to an experienced and qualified professional.
There is a Path Forward
Because of the devastating nature of being abused by a clergy member, many victims chose to stay quiet. However, if you’re able or willing to come forward, there is a path forward for you. Even if SOL laws prevent a formal suit in your state, you can reach out to independent compensation programs that can help you find the justice and restitution that you deserve.