If you are the victim of child sexual abuse by a clergy member, you are not alone. The Washington Post reported that in 2019 alone, victims made nearly 4,500 new claims of abuse against the Catholic clergy. Many of these allegations dated back to the mid-1970s.
Child victims often do not report sexual abuse until years into adulthood. If you are ready to speak up about the harm you have suffered, a Brookhaven clergy abuse lawyer could help you with a civil lawsuit against your abuser and the church that harbored them. Call the team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 219-9622 to learn more about seeking compensation.
The Consequences of Child Sexual Abuse Can Last a Lifetime
Child sexual abuse can affect victims’ lives long after the abuse has ended. Victims may suffer from short- and long-term physical and mental health issues, including:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Chronic health conditions, like cancer, heart disease, and obesity
- Increased risk of alcohol and drug abuse
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men who suffered child sexual abuse are six times more likely to attempt suicide than those who didn’t experience abuse, while female victims are nine times more likely. Victims also are more likely to suffer sexual abuse in adulthood, engage in dangerous sexual behaviors, and face unwanted or unplanned pregnancies.
The CDC considers child sexual abuse a significant and costly public health problem. The organization found the lifetime economic costs of child sexual abuse exceeded $9 billion in 2015 but conceded this figure probably underestimates the actual cost because many child sexual abuse cases go unreported.
If a clergy member sexually abused you as a child, these health problems and negative consequences might sound all too familiar. Your suffering is not your fault. You are a victim. The clergy member took advantage of your trust, and your abuser and the church should compensate for your physical, emotional, and economic damages.
A Brookhaven clergy abuse lawyer could help you seek compensation for past physical and mental health treatments resulting from your abuse. You could also include the costs of future medical care in your claim, such as awards for continued therapy as you work through the trauma of your abuse. The team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can also help you seek awards for the years of mental anguish you have endured and the ways your abuse has negatively impacted your adult relationships and chances of economic success. Call us today to learn more.
The Laws Have Evolved to Better Serve Victims
Now, more than ever, states have begun amending their laws to give victims of child sexual abuse a chance at justice. Recently, New York joined the list of states that have extended the statutes of limitations for child victims.
The Child Victims Act (CVA), signed into law in 2019, provides victims previously barred from taking legal action an opportunity to stand up to their abusers. Claimants now have until they turn 55 years old to file suit, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred or if the previous statute of limitations barred them from pursuing claims.
The legislature further amended the CVA in 2020. Senate Bill S7082 extended the look-back window for victims to file claims, giving them until Aug. 14, 2021, to bring civil charges against their abusers and the institutions that failed to protect them.
The CVA also made other changes to New York law:
- Increases the amount of time a victim can report criminal offenses to their 28th birthday. Victims do not file these charges themselves. They report abuse to the police or district attorney for prosecution.
- Eliminates the requirement that victims must file a notice of claim.
- Mandates judicial training for crimes involving child sexual abuse.
- Allows the Office of Court Administration to create rules and regulations for the swift adjudication of revived actions.
These changes reflect an increased understanding of the difficulty that child victims have in coming forward about their abuse. Sexually abused children often feel fear, shame, self-blame, and confusion. They may not understand that what happened to them is abuse, or they may not want to get their abuser in trouble, especially if the person is someone close to them, like a religious leader.
Once victims reach adulthood, many continue to remain silent, often because of persistent feelings of shame and self-doubt. According to Psychology Today, many sexual abuse victims dissociate from their experiences. Dissociation happens when someone disconnects from their thoughts, feelings, and memories. It is common for trauma victims to dissociate as a defense mechanism. However, this might lead to repressed memories, meaning victims may have hazy recollections of their abuse or not remember it altogether.
It could take years or decades before victims remember what they experienced or trust their memories enough to talk about the abuse. A desire to deny their experiences might compound their vague memories. Sometimes, victims have difficulty remembering abuse because their abuser drugged them or plied them with alcohol.
For a free legal consultation, call (800) 794-0444
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm Can Help You Fight for Justice
You have suffered long enough. You can let Pintas & Mullins Law Firm help you seek justice. A Brookhaven clergy abuse lawyer can assist you in seeking compensation to help with your healing and recovery. The money will not erase what happened to you, but it could provide a measure of consolation. A guilty verdict against those who harmed you can offer closure and punish the church in hopes of preventing future abuse.
We understand that coming forward is not easy. Our team has more than three decades of experience serving victims. We will work to handle your case with professionalism and respect. Please do not wait too long to reach out, especially if you want to take advantage of the CVA’s look-back window to pursue your case. Call our offices today at (800) 219-9622 for a free case review.