What You Should Do if You or Your Child Area Victim of Clergy Abuse

Even if we don’t always hear about clergy scandals in the news, they are still happening. The problem with these cases is that the victims, especially in cases involving catholic clergymen, have to push back against cover-ups and active efforts to discredit them. Religious organizations are some of the most powerful in the world and victims can often feel intimidated when they go against them, but they shouldn’t. If you believe that you or one of your children are a victim of clergy abuse, here’s what you need to do.

Know what Constitutes Abuse

The first thing you have to know is what constitutes clergy abuse. Clergy abuse is when any clergy member uses their position to abuse members of their church or of a church-run organization sexually. Some of the things that can qualify as abuse include sexual comments and conversations, sending or soliciting sexual texts and images, unwanted sexual contact, or any sexual activity involving minors, just to name a few.

Gather Evidence

If the victim is a child, you need to get as much information on what happened, when it happened, and where. You also have to know if other people were around at that time. They could become witnesses later on.Ask them how many times it happened too. The more information you have on the case, the better the chance you’ll be able to get recourse.

If you are the victim, you will have to document everything that happened. You should also see if you have the right to secretly tape conversations. There are about 12 states that outlaw secret recording, but if yours isn’t one of them, then getting a recording of the clergyperson making disparaging comments or acting suspiciously when asking about the acts could help build a case. Also, see a doctor if you have any visible signs of abuse or are suffering from symptoms that could be related to it.

Report it

Various organizations around the country will allow you to report clergy abuse cases. But your best bet is to go with your state’s attorney general. They should have an online service or a hotline that will allow you to report your case anonymously. You can then decide to divulge more information as the case progresses.

Speak with a Lawyer

You will also need to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible after you’ve reported your case. A lawyer will be able to help you gather more evidence so you can strengthen your case. They can sit down with you and direct you towards the proper course of action as well. A good clergy abuse lawyer will also look at all the areas of your life that have been affected by the abuse to maximize your claim.

Look for a clergy abuse attorney near you that has significant experience working on these cases. Check their track record and get a view of multiple settlements and judgments they won. Make sure that they’re known for going all the way and are not afraid to represent clients in court too.

You need to do all of these things if you believe you or someone in your family is a victim of abuse from a priest or any clergyman. The most important part is gathering as much information as you can get and getting professional help as soon as possible.