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New Brunswick Clergy Abuse Lawyers | The Lasting Effects Abuse  

The Lasting Effects of Clergy Abuse

As we have seen by the many adult clergy abuse victims that recently came forward to share their stories, the effects of sexual abuse are not left behind in childhood. Clergy abuse impacts victims long after the abuse ends. Clergy abuse victims are more likely to suffer from drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and other mental disorders. They often have difficulty forming healthy bonds with others and go through life with a deep sense of fear and distrust.

Abuse by priests, deacons, and youth leaders is incredibly devastating because children are taught to follow their moral example. Being violated by the men and women who represent their religion confuses their inherent sense of right and wrong. Where church was once a place of serenity and security, after abuse, it becomes a place associated with pain and sadness.

Speaking Out About Clergy Abuse

For clergy abuse victims, the first challenge in overcoming their pain is admitting the abuse. Feelings of guilt and shame are common among abuse survivors. They may believe they did something to deserve the abuse. When the abuser is in a position of power, such as with a priest or another member of the clergy, the victim feels powerless to speak out against them. Many abusers threaten to harm their young victims and their families should the children discuss their abuse with others. Even more victims fear they will not be believed if they come forward. These dynamics keep children quiet for decades and even lifetimes, in some cases.

Impact of Clergy Abuse

The effects of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse can surface at any point in a victim’s life, not just at the time of the abuse.

Symptoms of clergy abuse include:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Emotional shutdown

  • Insomnia

  • Low self-esteem

  • Memory repression

  • Nightmares

  • Panic attacks

  • Sexual dysfunction

  • Substance abuse

Survivors who have deeply repressed their memories of abuse may not make connections between their physical and emotional problems and the pain they suffered as a child. When trust is broken and childhood abuse victims realize they can no longer count on adults to make them feel safe and protected, they often stop trusting others altogether. This makes creating healthy bonds with friends, family members, and romantic partners difficult.

Victims also turn to drugs, alcohol, and other addictive substances to numb the devastating pain of childhood abuse. Survivors are 26 times more likely to suffer from some type of substance addiction in adulthood.

Hope for Clergy Abuse Victims

There is hope for clergy abuse victims. For many adult survivors of clergy abuse, counseling and accountability for their abusers are two very important steps toward becoming whole again. The road to healing is a long one, but peace is possible after abuse. There are many resources available dedicated entirely to clergy abuse survivors. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests is a good place to start.

New Brunswick Clergy Abuse Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Put Victims First

Holding abusers accountable for their criminal behavior is another important part of the healing process. New Brunswick clergy abuse lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr work with abuse victims throughout the state to bring justice and recover financial compensation for their trauma. To schedule a free consultation today, call us at 732-537-8570 or contact us online.

Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we work with clients throughout the state, including the areas of Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia.

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