Sexual Abuse by Clergy

PRACTICE AREA: SEXUAL ABUSE

How Can We Help You

Sexual abuse is defined as the forcing of undesired sexual behavior by one person upon another. The psychological impact of sexual abuse varies substantially from individual to individual. Some victims are highly resilient and recover on their own. Others develop persistent problems that may last a lifetime.

Statistics show that 80 percent of victims of sexual abuse are under the age of 18. Of those, between 20 and 30 percent are women and 10 to 15 percent are men. Furthermore, while there is a difference between being affected and being substantially harmed, interpersonal crimes such as sexual abuse have the strongest psychological impact.

For victims who do not quickly return to baseline or fail to recover within months without treatment, the persistent effects of sexual abuse can result in an extreme or significant acute response that leads to either no recovery at all or continued deterioration. These acute responses can be:

  • Crime-specific psychological conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Non-specific psychological conditions such as substance abuse disorders, depression, or other conditions with multiple pathways
  • Exacerbation of pre-existing conditions
  • Personal and crime-specific factors that lead to individual problems and conditions

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a trauma specific diagnosis that requires exposure to trauma and subjective experience of fear/horror/helplessness that results in impairment. Considered a “failure to recover,” it is often co-morbid with other conditions, such as depression and other anxiety related disorders. If PTSD lasts for more than 6 months, it is considered chronic and often requires treatment for recovery—and may persist for many years. Risk variables for the individual may include gender, temperament or constitutional characteristics, prior psychiatric history or prior trauma.  Crime specific variables may include the severity of the crime, perceived life threat, shame, and exposure to multiple episodes over extended periods of time.

Don’t let the Statute of Limitations Prevent You From Getting Justice

One of the many tragedies surrounding sexual abuse is that victims often do not report the crime until much later in life, when it is too late to obtain compensation due to the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania. If you are a victim of sexual abuse, and are under the age of 30, and need a sexual assault lawyer, please contact Mr. Monahan immediately. He is one of the few attorneys in Pennsylvania who focuses on this complex and highly specialized area of sexual assault criminal law.

Shared with permission from author Joelle Casteix …

What if women comprised 50% of sex abuse victims in the Catholic Church?

What if the cornerstone of our conventional wisdom about the victims in the Catholic Church and clergy sex abuse crisis was wrong?

What if, in a statistically viable sample of survivors of abuse in the Catholic Church, 50% of respondents were female? What if you also knew that this result is almost statically impossible to achieve with the conventional wisdom, which says that boys outnumber girls four to one?

Would that change how you, the church, advocacy groups, and the general public respond to the crisis?

The results of my Survivors Insight Survey are in. You can read the white paper here.

According to the survey:

  • 51% of survivor respondents were female.
  • 40% of clergy predators were not on any diocese “list.”
  • 90% of survivors were abused by priests, brothers and nuns.
  • Approximately 10% were abused by lay (non-clergy) employees and volunteers.
  • Women do not come forward due to victim blaming, perpetuation of “rape myths” by clergy, disenfranchisement in the legal system, lack of female attorneys representing victims, and a belief that many attorneys only represent male victims.

All of the results are enlightening and startling.

Perhaps it’s time to change the conversation about survivors of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

You can read all of the Survivors Insight Survey. Or, for more of an overview, click here.

I hope you will take the time to read the results and share them with your friends and colleagues. The more we talk about abuse, the more successful we will be in stopping the cycle and keeping our children safe right now.

Many Thanks,
Joelle Casteix