Being abused by a clergy member is a traumatic, difficult experience. Because of the stigma that’s often been placed on this type of abuse, many victims have chosen not to come forward. However, as more victims have come forward, their strength has inspired others to share their stories, and seek legal restitution. If you’ve decided to file a lawsuit against an abusive clergy member, here are the first four steps you need to take after you’ve been abused by a clergy member:
1. Seek Mental Health Support
After suffering from abuse, it’s typical to have lasting mental health obstacles. By seeking mental health support, you can begin identifying the ways they can develop coping strategies. If medical intervention is needed, seeking out a psychiatrist is highly recommended. Healing from trauma can be a long effort, but with support groups and doctors at your side, you can begin your path to a full recovery. Once you’re ready, you should seek out a clergy abuse lawyer. These lawyers can help you with every step on this list and will provide compassionate guidance through the emotionally difficult process of filing complaints, and potential court hearings. The qualified, experienced clergy abuse legal team at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can be your legal rock during these trying processes.
2. Hire a Compassionate Clergy Abuse Lawyer
Speaking of which, actually hiring a lawyer is the second biggest step in holding your abuser accountable for their actions. Clergy lawyers will help you understand the often confusing timelines that are associated with clergy abuse cases. If you have any questions about the legal process, especially during the filing phase, you can discuss these issues with your lawyer. Remaining in a strong mental state will ensure you navigate these difficult legal processes successfully. Stay connected with support groups, and seek any mental health support that you require. Let your lawyer know about any hesitations or concerns you have about the case you’re discussing, to ensure you’re getting a legal team that can truly compassionately support you throughout this harsh legal process.
3. File Your Case Against Your Abuser
The scope of the cases being filed against current and former clergy members for abuse has skyrocketed over the last two decades. As more people come forward about their experiences, the cases become less stigmatized and allow victims of abuse to seek help. For too long, there was a backlash against those who filed suits against the clergy, and intimidation was often involved. Your clergy abuse case lawyer can ensure that you file your case in the proper, effective fashion. When you’re divulging highly personal and sensitive information, you want to know the person you’re communicating with is professional, supportive, and has had prior experience in this area. Lawyers who specialize in clergy abuse lawsuits will also be highly prepared to handle any obstacles that might present themselves as you navigate these sometimes-complex lawsuits. Trusting your lawyer during the filing process can help you focus on healing yourself as the legal battle plays out in the background.
4. Continue Seeking Mental Health and Community Support
Once again, the importance of taking your mental health seriously during this time must be restarted. Unfortunately, many victims of clergy abuse have developed severe mental health issues. Without the proper support, you could harm both your mental and physical health. Many support groups exist solely to help those who’ve been victimized by abusive clergy members, and these groups can provide a sense of community for you as you navigate these difficult times. The church has often downplayed the severe impact clergy members’ abuse has played in victims’ lives, so having a community of people around you who can relate to you, and lift you up, will prove highly useful. If you’re not sure where to look for support groups, your clergy abuse lawyer will have that knowledge on hand to assist you. Knowing that you have people watching out for you is an essential part of the healing process, and will allow you to focus on your own life as your lawyer fights your legal battles for you.
Help is Out There
With the continuously growing community of support that exists for victims of clergy abuse, there is always help out there waiting for you. Many victims seek justice through the court system, and more victims than ever before are getting the justice that they’re seeking. With the right mindset, legal help, and community support, you can hold your abuser responsible for their crimes.