Clergy sexual abuse of power occurs when a member of the clergy uses their position to sexually abuse an individual—either a minor or an adult. The psychological and emotional effects of the abuse can last a lifetime.
There is no shame in having suffered clergy sexual abuse, being a survivor, and speaking up against it. Speaking up could even help with some of the effects of the abuse. Jenner Law Firm listens to survivors and anyone who believes they may be a survivor of clergy sexual abuse of power.
What Exactly Is Clergy Sexual Abuse and How Does It Happen?
Specifically, clergy sexual abuse is when a clergy member uses their power and position in a church to exploit and sexually abuse an individual, like a member of their congregation, who could be a minor or an adult.
Transference and Countertransference May Play a Role in Abuse
The abuse may happen after an individual reaches out to a clergyperson (such as a pastor) about a personal issue, like a mental health condition.
As the clergyperson assists the individual, the individual may unwittingly redirect emotions or feelings they have about someone else toward the clergyperson. This is called transference, which commonly happens.
If the clergyperson unwittingly projects certain feelings toward the individual, this is called countertransference. This can be common too, but whenever it happens, the clergyperson must be aware of it and not let it affect their judgment. If it does, the clergyperson might pursue a different kind of relationship with the individual, which can lead to grooming and sexual abuse of power.
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What Is Considered Sexual Abuse By a Priest?
There can be many examples of sexual abuse by a clergyperson, like a priest. Sometimes, sexual abuse isn’t obvious, even to the person who experiences it. However, our firm can identify clergy sexual abuse and other abuse in any form, such as:
- Sexualizing conversations (such as with suggestive language or jokes)
- Soliciting or sending sexual images or texts
- Pressuring for sexual activity
- Purposely invading personal space
- Any non-consensual sexual behaviors or actions, including unwanted touching
What Are the Effects of Clergy Sexual Abuse of Power?
The effects of sexual abuse can be devastating and differ from person to person. A survivor may suffer terrible emotional and psychological effects and lasting trauma. They may also feel a tremendous sense of betrayal after trusting a clergyperson, the clergy, and the church. These feelings can intensify if any of those entities or other congregation members side with the abuser. These people may even blame the survivor for the abusive actions.
Another effect of the abuse is a sense of shame, which is especially common among abused children. The survivor may feel as though they are at fault in some way or that they consented to the abuse. Additionally, if an abuser gets away with their actions, and their enablers get away with their inaction, the abuser may feel emboldened to abuse more people, and the enablers may allow other abuse to occur.
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How Can a Clergy Sexual Abuse of Power Lawyer Help?
Our sexual abuse firm listens to survivors of abuse, fights on their behalf for justice, and supports efforts to prevent further abuses of power. We listen to our clients with compassion, fight very hard for their due damages from religious entities, and support the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.
With over three and a half decades of experience, we’re very confident our attorneys can help you or your loved one. Much of our experience is with helping survivors of sexual abuse litigate cases throughout the U.S. Your attorney can litigate your case, as well.
Over the years, our clergy abuse attorneys have earned respect from clients, the legal community, and the courts, especially in Maryland, so we believe we can help you with your case.
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Contact Us to Learn More About What Clergy Sexual Abuse of Power Is
If you know or believe you or a loved one suffered clergy sexual abuse, we encourage you to speak with us about it. There is no shame in being a survivor of abuse and in standing up against it. If you speak with our firm, we’ll help you take your next steps, and then on your behalf, we’ll hold the abuser to account.
To speak with us today, contact us at Jenner Law. Your consultation with us will be completely confidential. Our firm serves Maryland and many other states throughout the U.S.