One of the frequent effects of clergy sexual abuse on its survivors is difficulty in maintaining positive relationships, because of the because the profound betrayal of trust victims experience. Despite this, many survivors form strong bonds with others who have lived through similar trauma. While these relationships may initially help survivors through a difficult period, psychologists warn “traumatic bonding” may increases a survivor’s pain in the long run.
When a relationship is formed through bonding over a common traumatic experience, individuals can feel unable to leave, even if their partner becomes abusive. When a “trauma bond” forms, partners can feel indebted to each other in a powerful way, creating a kind of self-defeating loyalty. Sometimes, participants in relationships formed by traumatic bonding will manipulate their partners into remaining in the relationship, even if it features ongoing mental or physical abuse.
“Traumatic bonding” can result in relationships that foster an ongoing cycle of abuse. Psychologists warn survivors that these “trauma bonds” frequently include periods of intense highs and lows, where punishment and reward become the operating principles. Survivors may remain in the abusive relationship hoping they can change their partners or rely on promises of protection and support made by the abusive partner. Sexual abuse survivors often need assistance in developing the strength end these toxic relationships.
For many survivors, seeking outside support is the first step in healing from the trauma they have experienced. Clergy abuse survivors can be particularly hesitant to seek help in dealing with the aftermath of their abuse. For some individuals, fear of being disbelieved after years of not disclosing their abuse has made it difficult for them to come forward with their experience. For others the religious statues of the clergy and years of devout upbringing have endangered a sense of guilt in survivors making disclosure even harder. Relationships based on “traumatic bonding” can trap a survivor in an insular work in which he or she speaks experiencing abuse only with a partner who does not help them heal.
Holding the perpetrators of abuse responsible for their actions can prevent future abuse of other children. Filing a civil lawsuit against the abusive priest and church officials who covered up the abuse can result in financial compensation for survivors. For assistance in filing a clergy abuse claim contact an experienced Trenton clergy abuse lawyer who can help you navigate the legal process.
If you are a survivor of clergy abuse, you are not alone. At Williams Cedar, our experienced Trenton clergy abuse lawyers stand by those individuals who have been sexually abused by a clergy member as they seek the justice they deserve. We work with sensitivity to the trauma survivors have experienced as we seek to obtain the maximum compensation they are entitled. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we proudly serve clergy abuse survivors throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and nationwide. To schedule a free consultation today, call us at 856-470-9777 or submit an online inquiry form.