It’s no secret that members of the clergy have been accused of sexually abusing vulnerable members of their congregation. The Catholic Church is the most notorious for its sexual abuse scandals, but other religious organizations are not immune from bad actors. Clergy are in a position of power and many don’t hesitate to abuse their status in order to achieve their goals. Then, when their victims speak up to tell the community about what they suffered, church officials moves the offender to another parish instead of actually dealing with the issue. Abuse survivors don’t have to accept this lack of enforcement from the church, and can get help from a clergy abuse lawyer for resolution and closure.

Why Clergy Sexually Abuse Their Parishioners

People who sexually abuse others are known as predators. Predators look for vulnerable individuals to become their victims for sexual abuse. Combine that with the authority inferred onto individuals who become priests, rabbis, imams, and other religious leaders, and the result is an individual who can impose their will without repercussion. 

Congregations are taught to trust their religious leaders without question. They don’t hesitate to leave their children alone with a religious leader due to the perception that the religious leader will behave appropriately. Parents don’t typically think that someone in a position of trust and authority is going to abuse their children. Unfortunately, this trust is frequently extended to the point where parents won’t believe their children when a sexual abuse incident happens. And when parents do take action, the religious organization will refuse to deal with the issue and remove the religious leader from their post instead of seeking criminal charges. The “sweep it under the rug” attitude has enabled priests to sexually abuse minors for decades.

Signs Someone has Been Sexually Abused 

A victim of sexual assault may exhibit signs of sexual abuse through their behavior. There can also be physical signs that a sexual assault happened. However, not all sexual abuse victims will show any outward signs of sexual abuse whatsoever. Signs of someone who has undergone sexual abuse include:

  • Age-inappropriate sexual behavior
  • Resistance or avoidance to being left alone with the abuser
  • Quiet or withdrawn
  • Bedwetting or soiling clothing
  • Poor performance at school 
  • Pain while going to the bathroom
  • Sexually transmitted infection
  • Redness or bruising in the genital region

Seeking Help From a Clergy Abuse Lawyer

A majority of clergy sexual abuse survivors are children, but many do not speak out or are taken seriously until they’re an adult. Fortunately, many states have extended the statute of limitations for survivors of child sexual abuse, and allows lawsuits for child sexual abuse survivors to take place. Contact a clergy abuse lawyer as soon as possible to discuss what actions can be taken. Abuse survivors can have a hard time talking about this topic, but speaking out is important, and a compassionate lawyer can help a survivor understand their legal rights and the options available to them.