Coming forward with an allegation of sexual abuse against a clergy member is rarely an easy decision for a survivor. Some survivors are hesitant to tell their stories for fear of judgment, shame, or ridicule. In other cases, Catholic officials, including high ranking bishops and archbishops, have actively discouraged survivors from coming forward with their experiences of abuse. To overcome these obstacles, many survivors are turning to social media as an outlet for telling their stories and spreading awareness.
Turning to social media is rarely the first course of action taken by survivors of clergy abuse. Most individuals first report the abuse to their local pastor or bishop. However, survivors frequently find the Church fails to listen to their stories or does not take their allegations seriously. In some cases, the Church has proceeded to actively cover up the abuse allegations by transferring accused priests to other assignments. Additionally, by pressuring individuals to sign non-disclosure agreements before receiving payouts, the Church has silenced the stories of many abuse survivors.
When addressing the abuse with local Church officials results in no action against the abusive priest, survivors often turn to social media as a last resort. Using social media has been an effective method for many survivors to address the trauma they experienced. The hashtag #ChurchToo has followed the popularity of the #MeToo movement. Brought to the Light and The Wartburg Watch are examples of independent websites created by survivors seeking to share stories of evangelical clergy abuse.
Investigations into clergy abuse allegations by the media, including online publications and social media sites, have created other platforms where survivors can come forward with their experiences. The recent focus of the Houston Chronicle on clergy abuse with the Southern Baptist Convention is just one example of the difference the media can make in revealing the enormity of the clergy abuse problem.
Individuals who experienced clergy abuse spend years dealing with physical and emotional trauma. The financial toll of medical treatment expenses, psychological counseling fees, prescription drug costs, and lost wages due to missed workdays can be overwhelming for many families. By filing a civil lawsuit against all those responsible for clergy abuse, survivors can obtain compensation for these expenses and for the pain and suffering they experienced.
If you or a loved one experienced clergy sexual abuse, you are not alone. The experienced Camden clergy abuse lawyers at Williams Cedar are ready to fight on your behalf to ensure you receive justice for the trauma you suffered. Located in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we proudly serve clergy abuse survivors throughout New Jersey. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 856-470-9777 or contact us online.