As children, we get taught that we can trust certain adults. We get told that these people will listen to us, protect us, and offer us sound advice. Our parents tell us that teachers, doctors, and police officers are “safe” and helpful. For children raised in religious households, the family spiritual adviser would probably be on this list.
The sad reality is that for too many children, clergy members were not as safe as people led them to believe. Tens of thousands of people have stepped forward to say that members of the Roman Catholic Church abused them as children, with more allegations surfacing each year.
Although monetary compensation cannot make up for the harm you have suffered, you can take civil action against your abuser and the institution that may have protected him. A Rhode Island clergy sexual abuse lawyer can help make your voice heard. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 219-9622 to speak with a team member about how we can help you stand up to those who harmed you.
Extent of Clergy Sexual Abuse Scandal Exposed
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reported that 4,220 survivors of child sexual abuse by clergy members made 4,434 allegations nationwide from July 2018 through June 2019. This figure is three times as many claims as the previous year. Survivors of clergy sexual abuse have come forward from all 194 U.S. dioceses, and Rhode Island is no exception.
The Boston Globe reports on an investigation by the state attorney general into 70 years’ worth of allegations against the Diocese of Providence that it helped cover up sexual abuse throughout the state.
Survivors in Rhode Island Now Have More Time to Seek Justice
Like many states, Rhode Island recently updated its statute of limitations to give survivors of child sexual abuse more time to hold their abusers accountable in a civil lawsuit. In 2019, legislators amended RI Gen Laws § 9-1-51 to allow child sexual abuse victims 35 years (up from seven) to sue after reaching the age of 18, meaning survivors can bring action against their abuser up to age 53.
Changes to the law also allow survivors 35 years from the time the abuse occurred to sue an institution, such as a diocese. In situations where survivors have repressed memories of their abuse, they have seven years from the time they “discover” the injury.
Extending Deadlines Recognizes Effects of Child Sexual Abuse
States have changed their statutes of limitations regarding child sexual abuse because more and more, they recognize that survivors might keep their abuse a secret for decades. According to Psychology Today, there are many reasons why victims might stay silent about the abuse they suffered as a child:
- They may not understand what has happened to them or recognize the behavior as abuse until adulthood.
- Survivors may only have vague memories of what they suffered as children, which could cause them to doubt themselves.
- It is not uncommon for victims to disassociate from their memories or enter a state of denial.
- Survivors may stay silent out of fear or humiliation.
- Children find it hard to recognize a trusted adult as a perpetrator and might blame themselves for the abuse.
Whatever a survivor’s reasons for not speaking out, Rhode Island law is now even more favorable for victims in terms of allowing them time to seek justice from their abuser. If you are ready to take legal action, a Rhode Island clergy sexual abuse lawyer can help you seek compensation for the damages you have suffered. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today to get started.
Child Sexual Abuse Can Cause Decades of Suffering
One of the most sinister aspects of child sexual abuse is the lasting damage it can cause victims. The pain and suffering do not end when the abuse stops. Often, victims experience a lifetime of physical and emotional consequences.
The American Counseling Association found that survivors of child sexual abuse often experience higher levels of:
- Eating disorders
- Sleep problems
- Sexual and relationship issues
- Dissociative episodes
Survivors often blame themselves for their abuse, especially when their abuser was someone close to them. This guilt can lead to feelings of self-blame and lowered self-esteem, making survivors more prone to self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
If you have suffered ongoing mental health issues or physical health problems stemming from your abuse, you deserve financial help to aid in your recovery. A personal injury attorney could help you secure a settlement to pay for your medical bills and mental health services, both past and future. You might also seek compensation for the years of pain and suffering you have endured because of your abuse.
Remember, though the Catholic Church has been most in the spotlight, clergy abuse is not limited to one denomination. If you have suffered at the hands of any religious leader, a Rhode Island clergy sexual abuse lawyer could help you.
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm Can Help
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm understands that financial awards will not make your suffering go away. What an award can do is provide you with some financial security to help pay for your recovery. Winning a civil lawsuit could also provide you with the satisfaction of knowing you have stood up to your abuser.
You might find it challenging to discuss the circumstances of your abuse, but our team has dedicated itself to providing survivors with compassionate representation. Our firm has a combined 50-plus years of experience helping victims fight for justice and compensation. We want you to feel comfortable talking about the details of your case.
We know that it might seem intimidating to face your abuser and take on a defendant as large and powerful as the Catholic Church. A Rhode Island clergy sexual abuse lawyer is up to the challenge. We want you to feel secure in the knowledge our firm will stand by your side, no matter how tough the case. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 219-9622 to speak to our team about how we can help.