Sexual assault is one of the most traumatizing experiences anyone can go through — and the emotional and physical effects can be devasting. In many cases, the victim carries an emotionally taxing burden through life — especially if they have been afraid to speak out. Often reported in the news, sexual assault committed by members of the clergy is unfortunately not an uncommon occurrence. When the trust people put in their church and clergy has been broken by sexual abuse, the victim is often left confused, vulnerable and fearful of reporting the incident. If you’ve been a victim of sexual abuse by a clergy member, here are the first steps to take.
REPORT THE INCIDENT TO THE CHURCH
Understandably, many people will hesitate to report a sexual abuse incident to the church due to lack of trust and fear of being judged or not believed. However, finding someone within the church that has the authority to take action against your attacker can not only help you receive justice but can prevent sexual abuse from happening to others.
REPORT THE INCIDENT TO THE PROPER AUTHORITIES
Sexual assault is a crime, and by reporting the incident to the police, your attacker will undergo a full investigation. Should you pursue civil action against the church, the investigation and outcome can be a vital component to your case.
LEARN YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS
Sex crimes are both egregious and grossly negligent, and juries typically award high damages to victims of sexual assault. A civil lawsuit may also be brought against the church based on negligent supervision or failure to provide proper protection and security, therefore, leaving the victim in harm’s way.