Sexual abuse is a profoundly serious matter that can affect your life in several negative ways. Sadly, sexual abuse occurs even in what should be a safe place of religious worship. If you or a loved one suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a clergy member, you could have grounds for legal action. Some victims have collected significant financial compensation by filing a lawsuit.
A Florida clergy sexual abuse lawyer can explain your potential next steps. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 219-9622 today. A team member is available to discuss your case in detail and help you determine the right course of action for you.
Any behavior that is sexual and nonconsensual is a form of sexual abuse. While varying degrees of sexual abuse exist, every incident can become incredibly traumatic and devastating. Sexual abuse is not only immoral but also illegal. Victims often suffer for long periods, with some experiencing lifelong repercussions.
Sexual abusers, including clergy members, often prey upon vulnerable victims. For example, minors may not have the developmental capacity to comprehend what happened to them during an abusive episode. If you suffered abuse as a minor by a clergy member, just because you did not explicitly say no does not mean that you gave consent.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that one in every four girls and one in 13 boys experience sexual abuse during childhood. Many sexual abuse cases occur in environments that should be safe, such as a church or while participating in a youth group. Victims often know their abusers, who could be family members, relatives, acquaintances, teachers, or clergy members.
The CDC estimates that sexual abuse causes approximately $9.3 billion of damages annually. If you were the victim of abuse, you understand that the emotional and physical toll of your experience goes well beyond health care expenses.
The Effects of Sexual Abuse on Victims
Sexual abuse can change your life forever, inflicting physical, emotional, and financial harm to your family. If your abuse came at the hands of someone you knew and trusted, this could affect your ability to trust others in everyday life. Abuse victims often have difficulties managing relationships after the traumatic event, but other ways you could feel the effects of your abuse include the following:
- Emotional trauma: Victims of sexual abuse often suffer from various emotional conditions such as depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts. Sexual abuse victims could also have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a severe condition requiring ongoing treatment and management.
- Physical injury: Physical injuries also commonly occur in sexual assault cases. Injuries could include damage to the pelvic region, bruises, cuts, scrapes, sexually transmitted diseases, and even more serious injuries such as broken bones. If you were the victim of a sexual assault and experienced physical injuries, you should seek medical attention. Some victims exhibit reluctance to discuss the circumstances of their injuries with a medical professional, but this could keep you from getting the treatment you need and interfere with recovery.
- Financial loss: Sexual abuse can impact you and your family financially, in addition to the other pain you have experienced. Ongoing medical treatments and therapy can become expensive, and you could even find it challenging to find steady work and earn income because of your abuse. This difficulty is not your fault, and you could recover some of your losses by filing a legal claim.
- Difficulties later in life: Tragically, many sexual abuse victims become haunted by their experience throughout life. You could have trouble trusting people after your experience, which will affect every aspect of personal relationships down the road. While it is possible to receive therapy and work on your recovery, nothing can change the terrible and unfair experience you had to live through. Some sexual abuse victims develop substance abuse issues, as well.
Your abuse was not your fault, and you can take legal action to pursue justice and hold the responsible party accountable. If you or someone you love now suffer from the effects of past clergy sexual abuse, you can talk to a personal injury attorney who can walk you through your options during a free case review. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today for a free case review with a team member.
If you were the victim of sexual abuse by a clergy member, you have various types of compensation available. While every case is different, some victims can claim reimbursement for past and future medical expenses (including mental health therapy), punitive damages awarded to punish abusers and any entity that harbored them, pain and suffering, and much more.
Sexual abuse can scar victims for a lifetime, but you do not have a lifetime to pursue a claim for compensation for your injuries. Florida Statutes § 95.11(7) establishes the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits related to intentional acts of abuse:
- Seven years after reaching the age of majority (18 in Florida).
- Four years after the victim “leaves the dependency of the abuser.”
- Four years after the victim discovers the injury and the link between it and the abuse.
The deadline for these suits is whichever of these three occurs later. Florida Statutes § 95.11(9) also covers more recent acts of sexual battery against children younger than 16. If you suffered abuse at the hands of a clergy person, you deserve justice and closure. You can review your situation with a Florida clergy sexual abuse lawyer to determine if the statute of limitations has not run out on your case.
What You Can Do Next
If you experienced sexual abuse, one step you could take toward pursuing justice is to speak with a Florida clergy sexual abuse lawyer. The team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm is available to answer your questions during a free consultation. If you would like to learn more, pick up the phone and call (800) 219-9622. Abuse can forever affect your life, but you can fight back. Call today to get started.