Sexual abuse is a horrific crime with no set procedure on how or when to heal, no matter when it happened or what the circumstances were. Surviving sexual abuse is an uneven road that looks different for every individual. During this process, it’s important to be kind to yourself and, if possible, to accept help from loved ones and to find a professional who can help you work out your emotions in a healthy way. Victims of sex abuse by the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts of America can have hope.
Long-Term Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse
It need not be said that sexual abuse leaves behind scars, no matter how long ago it occurred or how “minor” it may have seemed (though people’s experiences vary, sexual abuse is never minor and can never be deemed unimportant).
Survivors of sexual abuse have an increased likelihood of experiencing disorders and conditions like depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, body image issues, eating disorders, and even PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). Survivors may experience panic attacks or moments of dissociation, and the trauma may affect the way they form relationships with others and how they feel about sexual intimacy and their own bodies.
Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts
Although sexual abuse most commonly occurs in the family home or by a person well-acquainted with the survivor, more and more cases are coming out by those who were abused by authority figures in the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). It should perhaps instead be said that these cases are now being taken seriously instead of being brushed aside.
Allegations and recorded cases of sexual abuse within both the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America stretch back to the 1940s; but only recently has it been uncovered how devastatingly widespread it was and continues to be.
A study conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice determined that from the years 1950 to 2002, a total of 10,667 reports of sexual abuse were made by individuals against the Catholic Church. These accusations implicated about 4% of the total ordained clergy that were active at the time. Only 6% of the accused clergy were convicted, and only 2% of the accused clergy received a prison sentence.
Despite the Boy Scouts of America’s wholesome reputation, their own records dating back to the 1940s – known as the “Perversion Files” – show that there have been more than 12,000 instances of sexual abuse under the care of their troop leaders and volunteers.
It’s clear that both the Catholic Church and the BSA had and continue to have severe problems with sexual abuse of minors, leaving thousands of young boys and girls with trauma that may plague them their whole lives.
Taking Your Power Back
Healing from sexual abuse takes time, and it looks different for every individual. It is recommended that you seek help from a professional counselor or psychiatrist if you are struggling with the severe trauma that sexual abuse leaves survivors with.
Remember that you are not at fault, no matter who committed the act or what the circumstances were.
Remember that you are strong, and capable, and worthy of love and support.
Remember that you are not alone; thousands of other people have gone through this as well, and they are standing by you and supporting you in whatever choice you decide to make.
And, remember that if it is the right choice for you, you can file a lawsuit against the person who abused you. The Massey Law Firm specializes in child sexual abuse cases, and we’re here to help you every step of the way in reclaiming your power and seeking justice, whoever your abuser is.
Call us today at 602-955-0055, or if you’d prefer, send us an email through our website to get a free review of your case. We stand with you.