Sexual Abuse and Assault Taking Place at Church
Sexual abuse cases at church have risen at alarming rates. Studies show that more adults, teenagers, and even children are at risk of sexual assault in churches. This is heart-wrenching, especially since churches should symbolize good morals in society.
To put things into perspective, Baylor University in Texas recently conducted a study into the prevalence of clergy sexual misconduct with adults. The results of the study were shocking. Here are some key statistics from the research:
- More than 3 percent of women who attended a church service in the past month were sexually abused at church at some point in their lives
- More than 92 percent of the sexual assault incidents occurred in secret and did not involve any established relationship between the abuser and the victim
- At least 7 out of every 400 Americans attending a church service have been sexually assaulted by the clergy
- Women account for at least 60 percent of the congregation in American churches
- At least 32 people out of a congregation of 400 are aware of clergy sexual misconduct in churches or church services they’ve attended
Until recently, sexual assault in churches wasn’t even a topic of discussion. This is because churches are considered among the safest places in society.
Abusers know that many people rely on the clergy to develop a sense of direction in their lives. More specifically, most people are more likely to have faith and trust in the clergy than other ordinary people in society. So when this trust is broken, the effects are usually devastating. Victims of sexual assault at church could take years to recover, especially physiologically. This is because a church is one of those few places in society where most people feel the safest. But unfortunately, thanks to a few rogue clergy members, churches are no longer as safe as they used to be.
Why and How Sexual Assault Happens in Churches
Although churches may seem like the safest place to be in society, sometimes, they’re not. Here are some common reasons why and how sexual assault happens in churches:
The Element of Trust
When you go to church, you don’t always think about the possibility of being sexually assaulted by a religious leader or an ordinary member of the congregation. Instead, you look forward to strengthening your faith. As a result, most people tend to lower their guard by being more carefree when they’re in church. And that’s how it should be, but not anymore.
Lack of Oversight
Most sexual predators masquerading as preachers to avoid suspicion. This is also because religious leaders and most churches, in general, don’t have oversight. For example, there might not be a good reason to investigate what happens in a preacher’s office because society generally assumes that preachers don’t get involved in criminal activities.
The Element of Niceness
Churches and American society generally believe in being nice to one another. This makes it even more unusual for anyone to question certain activities, especially in churches.
Additionally, rogue religious leaders wrongfully cite religious books to brainwash their congregation. For example, since most religions discourage humans from judging each other, most people don’t raise the alarm when they begin to suspect sexual assault at the church.
Ability to Wear Different Hats
Since religious leaders are respected members of society, they tend to wear multiple hats. More specifically, they play different roles at the same time. For example, your local preacher could also be a counselor, community leader, or even your personal friend.
Religious leaders assume these different roles because society thinks highly of them. For example, whether or not you’re a religious person, you may feel more comfortable confiding in a religious leader than any random person you meet in the streets.
This is the kind of vulnerability some rogue preachers and religious leaders take advantage of to abuse people who trust them. It’s also important to note that sexual abuse in churches doesn’t begin and end with preachers. Rogue choir members, worship leaders, music directors, choir leaders, administrators, cleaners, and other staff members may also be found guilty of sexual assault.
Reasons to Hire an Orange County Sexual Assault Attorney
If you or your loved one is a victim of sexual assault in church, an experienced California sexual assault attorney might be able to help. Sexual assault cases should be handled with the seriousness they deserve. Failure to speak up against this crime only enables the abuser even further.
As a result, more people suffer silently, not knowing who to turn to. Speaking up about sexual assault is a brave decision. You need to talk to people who won’t judge you. Rather, they should help you heal from the horrible memories of the counter with the abuser.
Case Barnett Law is one phone call away when you need someone who’ll fight for you and help you secure the compensation you deserve. We’ve helped many sexual assault victims in California hold the abuser responsible for their actions.
As a sexual assault victim, you may be eligible for compensation for damages such as:
- Past medical bills
- Loss of wages as a result of the assault
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Reduced earning capacity due to the incident
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- And more
Contact a California Sexual Assault Lawyer Today
Do not suffer in silence after a sexual assault incident; silence only enables the abuser. You have the power to stop them in their tracks by holding them responsible for their actions.
Also, do not feel guilty about seeking legal action against a church member regardless of their rank. True believers or church leaders do not abuse their fellow believers. If you don't seek legal action against them, you could miss out on the compensation you may be entitled to and, more importantly, the opportunity to hold them accountable for their actions.
You can find out whether you have a valid case at no cost to you. That’s because we offer free consultations. To request a free consultation with our team, reach out by calling 949-409-0055 or filling out the online contact form below. We have been proudly servicing clients throughout Costa Mesa, California, and the surrounding areas.