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Priest Abuse encompasses a range of immoral and improper actions commonly commited against kids and adolescents by predatory clergy or other church employees involving sexual assault of varying degrees. The sexual assault may be a one-off, non-consensual scroll barevent or it may involve numerous acts within an ongoing interaction. For example, an ongoing “trusting” interaction with a child created by the predatory intent of a church associate, blanketed by the trust and respect provided to a priest, leading to non-consensual sexual abuse acts of molestation.
Within nearly all claimed Priest or Clergy Sexual Abuse situations, the failure by the Clergy member’s superior to completely, adequately and immediately report the crime to police and other authorities, or the continuing failure to research, handle and deal fully with the occurrence amplifies the effects on the assault survivor, the community and potentially others. Current Church Sexual Abuse cases covered in the media highlight these short-comings, including “pass-the-trash” scenarios when the abuser commonly a clergy in the Catholic Church, is quietly re-assigned from one parish to another only to continue his predatory, criminal action on an unsuspecting parish community.
Priest and Clergy Sexual Assault and Justice
Not a week passes without a news headline coverage regarding sexual abuse and molestation of young children by predator clergy, or the aftermath of the abuse on the survivors and their families. If you are a victim of sexual assault from a priest or other clergy member, these stories are likely to serve as an echo chamber, replaying the horror, shame, guilt and various unwelcome thoughts staining your wellness. Encouraged by the societal movement and other channels that encourage survivors to disclose the abuse they suffered, survivors of assault are increasingly turning to the legal system to compensate them for the lifelong damage and injury they have suffered.
If you are a survivor of abuse commited by a member of the clergy, the result of the abuse on your life and foundational belief system can be immeasurable. Nonetheless, holding the responsible clergy and institutions to blame for their crimes and failures might provide an amount of justice and recompense to abuse victims. Oftentimes, victims can leverage their legal rights in confidential mediation therein avoiding the need for litigation. But, if litigation is necessary, a case may be filed where the victim can remain anonymous.
All predators, to varying degrees, employ predatory methods which are commonly referred to as grooming, focusing on a possible abuse victim. Following is a survey of grooming behaviors exhibited by predators who are in a job of authority relative to the subordinate child.
Grooming is a significant part of a predator’s ploy. In a religious environment, the clergy member is revered as God’s representative. Within 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 – may be systematically exploited in the following ways:
An assaulter will first try to get the child’s trust. This strategy is most difficult to notice as religious communities are often tight-knit and personal relation with clergy is commonplace. Here, the assaulter can pretend sincere interest in the child’s wellbeing and development – both emotional and religious.
As a predator establishes a trusting relationship with the potential 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 may devote more time with the predator, feeling more comfortable with the relationship and counting on its stability and security. In addition to attention and affection, the potential victim may receive presents from the priest, including valuable, intangible gifts such as blessings and special recognition.
As the grooming escalates, the predator might try to isolate the potential target. This could mean single counseling meetings, meals or various forms of one-on-one isolated encounters.
The predator may start to de-sensitize the target from reacting negatively to contact, caressing and other behaviors that lead to sexual interaction. This might begin with breaking the physical-touch barrier, or verbally, with inappropriate messages to determine the victim’s reaction to the progression. This will escalate until the relationship advances to one of a physical, sexual nature.
Once the sexual relationship is established, the predator will work to keep control over the child and the continuing interaction. The priest may likely seek to manipulate the victim by continuing to make the target feel special and worthy. The predator will continue to exploit the victim by whatever ways needed to maintain the inappropriate physical relationship.
Impact on Clergy Abuse Survivors
The effect of childhood abuse on the victim can be overwhelming 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 establishing and maintaining healthy relationships. Individualized treatment and support groups can assist victims overcome these effects.
church lawsuitNew Jersey , a survivor of Priest Sexual Abuse can recover financial compensation from the abuser and, more commonly, from the religious organization for its failure to protect the child from the abuse, as well as failures or deficiencies in its process of reviewing and responding to reports of assault. If you are a victim of Priest or Clergy Sexual Abuse and would like to confidentially discuss your experience and your legal options, we are prepared to speak with you.