Miranda McKinnon posted an update 6 days, 4 hours ago
Clergy Abuse comprises a range of illegal and improper actions often perpetrated against children and adolescents by pedophilic clergy or other church members involving sexual assault of varying amounts. The sexual assault might be a single, non-consensual scroll barevent or it can include numerous assaults inside a continuing interaction. For example, an ongoing “trusting” relationship with a child created by the predatory behavior of a church associate, blanketed with the trust and reverence provided to a member of the clergy, leading to non-consensual sexual attack acts of molestation.
clergy lawsuit Vermont claimed Priest or Clergy Sexual Abuse situations, the short-coming by the Clergy member’s superior to entirely, adequately and immediately report the crime to law enforcement and other authorities, or the further failure to research, address and deal entirely with the occurrence amplifies the effects on the abuse survivor, the community and possibly others. Current Clergy Sexual Abuse cases covered in the press show these failures, including “pass-the-trash” situations when the abuser oftentimes a priest in the Catholic Church, is suddenly re-assigned from one location to another merely to continue his predatory, criminal action on an unsuspecting parish community.
Priest and Clergy Sexual Assault and Justice
Not a day passes without a news announcement reporting about sexual assault and molestation of young children by pedophile priests, or the effects 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 harming your wellness. Encouraged by the social movement and other pathways that encourage them to reveal the assault they experienced, survivors of assault are more frequently turning to the legal system to compensate them for the life-long harm 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 may be incalculable. Nonetheless, holding the responsible priest and institutions accountable for their crimes and indifference can offer an amount of justice and recompense to assault victims. Commonly, survivors can leverage their legal rights through confidential mediation thereby avoiding the need for litigation. But, if litigation is necessary, a case can be filed where the victim can remain anonymous.
All abusers, to varying degrees, employ predatory tactics that are commonly known as grooming, focusing on a possible abuse victim. Below is a list of grooming actions used by predators who are in a job of authority relative to the subordinate young child.
Grooming is a significant part of a predator’s strategy. In a religious setting, the clergy member is viewed as God’s representative. Within this environment, the predator often works closely with small amounts of children, understanding each child’s needs, vulnerabilities and situations. Once a target is located, these vulnerabilities – like tumultuous family setting, isolation, low self-esteem, emotional neediness, attention-seeking – might be systematically leveraged in the following ways:
A predator will first 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 assaulter can pretend sincere interest in the child’s wellbeing and development – both emotional and religious.
As a predator creates a trusting relationship with the potential victim and oftentimes their family, 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 victim will spend more time with the priest, feeling 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 predator, including valuable, intangible presents such as blessings and special recognition.
As the grooming continues, the predator will work to isolate the possible victim. This may result in individual counseling meetings, meals or various methods of one-on-one isolated moments.
The predator may start to de-sensitize the target from reacting negatively to contact, caressing and other behaviors that lead to sexual interaction. This may start with breaking the physical-touch barrier, or verbally, with suggestive messages to determine the victim’s response to the progression. This will escalate until the relationship gets to one of a physical, sexual nature.
As the sexual relationship is created, the predator will work to maintain control of the child and the continued interaction. The priest will likely want to manipulate the victim by continuing to make the target feel special and worthy. The predator will keep exploiting the victim by whatever ways needed to maintain the immoral physical relationship.
Impact on Clergy Abuse Survivors
The impact of childhood abuse on the victim can be overwhelming and life-changing. Several priest assault 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 problems creating and keeping healthy relationships. Individualized therapy and support groups can help survivors overcome these effects.
Legally, a survivor of Clergy Sexual Assault can recover financial compensation from the abuser and, more frequently, from the religious organization for its failure to protect the victim from the assault, as well as failures or deficiencies in its process of reviewing and responding to reports of abuse. If you are a survivor of Priest or Clergy Sexual Assault and would like to confidentially discuss your experience and your legal options, we are prepared to talk with you.