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The sexual abuse of children by priests in the Catholic Church has received (and continues to receive) significant attention from the media and the public. The problem of child sexual abuse and molestation in the Catholic Church has persisted for decades and continues to be a major concern for parishioners. Over the last decade, there have been a number of Clergy sex abuse cases in California specifically, but it is happening all over the country. Our Catholic Church molestation attorneys have vast experience with these extremely sensitive and difficult cases.
The prevalence of child sex abuse within the Catholic Church has been studied by a number of social scientists. One report concluded that 8.4 percent of priests and brothers (in a sample of more than 1,300) had engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor. Another study suggested that 2 percent of priests engage in pedophiliac behavior, while an additional 4 percent of priests are sexually preoccupied with adolescent boys or girls.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a support group for victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and brothers, has some helpful tips for parishioners whose priest has been accused of child sexual abuse.
ACCEPT YOUR EMOTIONS. Allegations of abuse in your church can bring up a wide range of emotions. You may feel betrayed, angry, anxious, confused, or sad. You should not criticize yourself or others for experiencing these emotions. If you feel overwhelmed, you may need to pursue counseling or psychiatric treatment.
RESPECT CONFIDENTIALITY. If you know who was victimized, you should respect his or her confidentiality. The time after coming forward with allegations of abuse can be very difficult for victims. Do not allow the mere passage of time to discredit someone who has accused a priest of sex abuse or molestation. Often, it takes decades for victims to reveal that they suffered at the hands of a trusted person in a position of authority.
CONTACT THE AUTHORITIES. If you are aware of abuse that has taken place or is taking place in your church, you should contact the police or prosecutors right away. It is important to do this as quickly as possible after discovering abuse.
EDUCATE YOUR FAMILY. You should educate yourself and your family about sexual abuse. Talk to your children about appropriate physical contact, and be sure to tell them that it is okay if they don’t do everything that adults ask them to do.
For more information about SNAP and to browse resources for survivors of priest abuse, visit their website.
It can be very difficult to determine whether your child has been a victim of sexual assault. Experts agree that there is no definitive profile of an abuser. Furthermore, there are few behavioral symptoms of sexual abuse or molestation that are conclusive proof that abuse has occurred.
If you are concerned about the possibility that your child has been sexually abused or molested in the Catholic Church, pay careful attention to the following behaviors. They may indicate that abuse has in fact occurred.
Nightmares and other sleep problems;
Sudden changes in eating habits;
Trouble with mood swings;
Bouts of rage, fear, insecurity, or withdrawal;
Initiating discussions about sexual issues,
Refusal to talk about about a secret shared with an adult; or
Exhibits adult-like sexual behaviors, knowledge, and language.
Click here for a full list of warning signs of child molestation.
In 2002, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops approved the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People that pledged a “safe environment” for all children engaged in activities sponsored by the Catholic Church. Part of this charter was the adoption of a “zero tolerance” policy for sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The USCCB now requires all dioceses faced with abuse allegations to alert proper authorities, conduct an investigation into the allegations, and remove the accused from duty.
If you or your child suffered child sexual assault or endured molestation, you should speak with our Catholic Church molestation victims attorney to discuss the rights of victims to bring a lawsuit directly against their abuser. The compassionate Catholic Church sex abuse lawyers at Estey & Bomberger have successfully represented victims of child sexual abuse and molestation, winning multi-million dollar awards for their clients.
For a complimentary and confidential consultation with a child sexual assault lawyer, call Estey & Bomberger at 1 (800) 925-0723.
Call us today for a free and confidential consultation and find out how we can help. We are committed to helping you in any way possible. If you have been the victim of institutional child molestation/sex abuse, we are ready to stand by your side and fight for you.
Call 1-800-925-0723 and start your recovery today.