Abuse of any kind can be devastating to a victim. According to Mayo Clinic, it can lead to a wide range of health issues, including social, emotional, and physical injury. It can also lead to chronic illnesses, lower health outcomes, mental issues, high rates of suicide, and a tendency to enter into abusive relationships in the future. When abuse is perpetrated by someone you know and trust such as a parent, guardian, teacher, mentor, or faith leader, the mental and emotional scars are that much worse, and the effects can last a lifetime.
The lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm are here to help victims of clergy abuse and sexual assault understand their rights, file a claim against those who abused them, and hopefully start on the road to recovery. If you or someone you know suffered abuse by a member of the clergy, please contact a Washington, D.C. clergy abuse lawyer today. Call (800) 794-0444 for a free case evaluation and to discuss your case with a lawyer who will guide and assist you throughout the claims process.
Types and Levels of Abuse
Clergy abuse is not a stand-alone phenomenon, nor is it a new one. It has gone on for a long time and can involve physical abuse, mental and emotional intimidation, sexual assault, acts of violence, blackmailing, and more. It can be perpetrated by a clergy member, an employee of the church, church volunteers or donors, and others in the community. The vast majority of abuse cases are committed by people whom the victim knows or is somewhat familiar with which is what makes combating it so difficult.
The legal definition of abuse varies from state to state, and instances of physical abuse or emotional intimidation may be treated differently from cases involving sexual abuse.
When it comes to sexual abuse, most people think of unwanted sexual contact, but children are usually unable to provide or refuse consent and they may not be able to convey their reluctance to participate acts of other kinds. This is precisely what abusers take advantage of, so it is important to recognize that sexual abuse can involve:
- Touching and fondling that is sexual.
- Showing children sexually explicit images.
- Showing children pornography.
- Taking inappropriate photos of a child.
- Speaking to a child with the intent of performing any of the acts above.
- Exposing the genitals to a minor.
- Engaging in oral sex or penetration with a minor.
We Want to Help
A Washington, D.C. clergy abuse lawyer can help. These are serious crimes that cannot be tolerated. However, there are challenges to making progress. For example, when it comes to clergy abuse cases, the only way to bring about lasting change is if victims come forward. However, doing so can be painful to the point that many victims not only refuse to come forward but many do not even report their experience of being abused in the first place.
There are other valid fears that the victim may have, including:
- Fear of their accusations not being taken seriously.
- Uneasiness with what happened to them.
- Embarrassment and regret about what happened.
- Denial–intentional or unintentional–about the extent or severity of what happened.
- A real fear of violence, blackmailing, or other forms of retaliation from the abuser.
We understand the stress and trauma that childhood abuse can have on an individual, and we are ready to help you in any capacity and at any time that you wish to come forward. Know that by filing a claim for credible acts of abuse that were committed in the past, you can not only seek financial awards and compensation that the law may entitle to you but you will make it easier for others to come forward as well. You may even help bring a habitual offender to justice and prevent future acts of abuse. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today for a free consultation.
For a free legal consultation with a washington dc lawyer serving Washington DC, call (800) 794-0444
Factors that Contribute to Abuse
The abuser-victim relationship is very unequal. Cases involving abuse–especially clergy abuse–tend to involve one or more of the factors below.
- Power and authority: People in positions of authority can easily abuse others. The teacher-student and priest-parishioner relationships are perfect examples of this dynamic.
- Age: Children are usually too innocent or weak to protect themselves, or they may be unaware that they must do so. Grownups can take advantage of this and coerce victims into performing acts that they otherwise would avoid.
- Body size: Someone with a large physical presence–even an adult of normal size if we compare them to a child–can bully and intimidate someone with the threat of force into participating in abusive acts.
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The Effects and Symptoms of Abuse
The effects and the damage caused by abuse are not just physical. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the damages of abuse can be emotional and mental as well, and these effects can last a lifetime. The victim may develop unhealthy ideas about intimacy and sexual relationships and they very often suffer from depression, anxiety, fear, worry, and can have chronic emotional distress.
Some of the signs that a child suffered abuse are:
- Sudden, unexplained behavior changes, such as changes in appetite, school grades, or interest in activities they enjoyed before.
- Low self-esteem and depression.
- Promiscuous behavior and an unnatural–and unhealthy–interest in sexual behaviors.
- Becoming very reserved, emotionally distant, in constant worry and fear, or hard to get through to.
Take a Stand Now with Pintas & Mullins Law Firm By Your Side
We want to help you and we want what is best for you. A Washington, D.C. clergy abuse lawyer understands the effects that abuse by the clergy can have on a person. We want to protect the victim while bringing the abuser–as well as any institutions complicit in the abuse–to justice.
If you or someone you know or love suffered abuse by the clergy, please call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm. We charge no fees unless we win your case. Please call us today at (800) 794-0444 so that we can help.