One of the most tragic recent legal phenomenons in the United States is the widespread nature of the abuse that members of the Catholic Clergy thrust onto their followers. Since the problem has only entered the spotlight in a significant manner in the last few decades, many people remain fairly unaware of the extent of the situation.
The Catholic Church knew about Abuse
Unfortunately, the Catholic Church knew about the abuse that was going on, and they knew about it for years. Due to this, the fact that they failed to take action for such a long time makes them criminally liable for abusive clergy members’ actions in many cases. If the Church had taken the time to treat victims with the compassion, respect, and belief that they deserved from the get-go, we would not be in the crisis that we are currently in.
What makes the situation even worse is the fact that many priests tried to avoid justice by transferring to other churches, sometimes going overseas in their efforts to do so. In some cases, higher-ups in the Church’s chain of command helped them to do so. Bringing all of those who helped enable this crisis to justice is crucial for changing the future, and ensuring this abusive phenomenon is stopped. A clergy abuse attorney can help you in this regard.
You can sue the Church and your Abuser
Many people assume that they can only sue or bring legal charges against their abuser, but this could not be further from the truth. In reality, you can sue both the church and the abuser that took advantage of you. In doing so, you’ll have the ability to bring everyone responsible for, and who helped cover up your abuse, to justice. Knowing where your abuser currently resides, and whether or not they were attached to other cases, is one of the first steps that you must take.
During the initial process of preparing to sue your abusers, and their enablers, you’ll need to gather as much documentation about your case as humanly possible. The more prepared you are, the simpler it will be to successfully bring a lawsuit against them. While the path forward will be difficult, you can help both yourself and other victims gain the confidence to hold the Church accountable for their actions.
Compensation is available for Victims
Victims deserve fair and reasonable financial compensation for the suffering they’ve dealt with since being abused. You should never feel as though asking for money from your abusers is “taking advantage of the system,” as this is a harmful lie that the Church has often spread to avoid paying out settlements. You must go into the legal process ahead with a reasonable expectation about how much money you may receive from a successful settlement, however.
Currently, the average settlement for clergy abuse cases has been between three and four hundred thousand dollars. In some high-profile cases, especially those that involve multiple victims, the settlement amounts sometimes reach millions of dollars. The specific nature of your case, the length of your abuse, and the amount of Church interference in your case will all factor into how much you will be paid during your settlement. No two cases end up being the same, however.
Legal and Mental support help is crucial for Victims
When you decide to pursue justice against an entity as powerful as the Catholic Church, you must have a solid support system behind you. Having both legal and mental health support systems in place, before you file your claim, can ensure that you’ll have the strength needed to see the case through.
When looking for legal help, you should seek out an attorney who has prior experience dealing with clergy abuse cases if at all possible. By doing so, you can trust that they know exactly how to approach the evidence-gathering process, and the trial/settlement process itself. The less you have to be involved, the better.
Support groups exist for clergy abuse survivors across the country. These groups are often founded, and led by, abuse victims. They can help you deal with your lingering trauma, assist with your legal case, and ensure that you feel supported during this difficult, and trying situation.
You deserve help
Remember, you deserve help, and justice, for the abuse you suffered. Support groups filled with other victims can help ensure that you’re making the decision that’s right for you. Due to the difficult nature of bringing a suit against your abuser, and a member of the faith at that, you’ll need to have that extra guarantee that people who care about you have your back.
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