Children deserve to feel safe and secure wherever they go. Unfortunately, there are many instances where children are victimized by people that they know and trust. Statistics show that nearly one in every ten children will be sexually assaulted before they reach the age of 18. Regrettably, this type of abuse has a damaging impact that lasts well into adulthood for most victims. There are often overwhelming mental, physical, and emotional consequences that victims are forced to endure. What’s worse is that the majority of these incidents go unreported. As a result, children tend to suffer alone.
As an adult, we know how truly challenging it can be for us to understand why certain things happen. Trying to figure out abuse as a child can be one of the most confusing and exhausting situations for anyone.
Unfortunately, the trauma of childhood sexual abuse does not tend to stop with the instances of abuse. Children who are harmed often experience long-term psychological consequences as they grow.
How Mind Control and a System of Power Feed into Childhood Sexual Abuse
The sad truth is that the sexual abuse of children is widespread in our country. Here in Massachusetts, we see many children and their families struggle to cope with the negative consequences of these actions. In many instances, victims are subjected to institutional sexual abuse. Over the years, we have seen thousands of victims come forward with allegations of sexual abuse.
You may be asking, what is it about churches and the religious context that creates such a ripe environment for childhood sexual abuse? Studies conducted by the University of Alberta found that there are several patterns of sex abuse of children that are present among various religious settings.
Some of these include:
A hierarchical power structure: A vision between religious leaders and laypeople often creates an opportunity for abuse. Those who are in the position of power are often above being held accountable. This is especially true in religious settings. These perpetrators often have an array of resources at their disposal that they can use to prevent the abuse from coming to light and help sweep it under the rug if it ever does come out.
Doctrines of divine authority: Most children view adults as figures of authority. Elevating these views while applying them to a person of God can make it even more difficult for children to stand up for themselves.
A Position of trust: Authority and trust operate alongside each other within the power of structures of a religious organization. Abusers typically excel in these atmospheres because they are able to leverage trust to gain access to their victims and isolate them from others. Perpetrators then use this opportunity to groom victims into compliance and convince them to remain silent. The way that perpetrators take advantage of their victims is eerily similar to how cult leaders gain the trust of their members and keep them entrenched.
Institutional loyalty: Churches and other religious institutions play a critical role in shaping social and cultural norms. People who are members of these institutions place a high degree of trust in their leaders. When people come forward with allegations of abuse, they are generally not believed. In some instances, children are not believed by their own parents.
Altogether, these four factors have similar patterns. They all present a person of superiority, typically a priest or a leader, who builds a rapport with the victims, families, and communities. The leaders then gain access to the victims and start abusing them. They will use their spiritual authority to assure the victim that nothing is wrong and convince them that they should not tell anyone about the abuse. In some instances, perpetrators will use threats to keep victims silent.
Regrettably, children who are abused are often haunted by the consequences as they grow. These consequences can manifest into psychological consequences that wreak havoc on their lives.
Three Long-Term Psychological Consequences of Abuse
Although there is truly nothing that a child could have done to prevent what happened to them, they often carry around an incredible sense of guilt. As a victim, you may experience embarrassment, shame, and guilt from being abused. In order to cope with this type of trauma, you may need psychological help to guide you through it. However, it is important that you do recognize that you are not the cause of what happened to you.
Another issue that victims struggle with as they grow is their self-esteem. Victims often have self-image problems and struggle to like their appearance. It is very common for abusers to diminish the self-worth of their victims in order to take advantage of them. Making victims feel completely vulnerable is one of the easiest ways for perpetrators to take advantage of children.
Unfortunately, struggling with self-esteem can negatively impact various aspects of your life. Although there is no magical way to increase a person’s self-esteem, working with a therapist can set you on the right path.
Finally, victims often struggle with physical intimacy as adults. Regardless of whether a person is abused one time or several times, they can have a difficult time forming meaningful relationships.
Not only is childhood sexual abuse completely disheartening, but it can leave victims with life-long consequences that impact so many areas of their lives. In many instances, victims can go through counseling and therapy to learn how to cope with their trauma. However, there are high costs associated with mental health treatment. For this reason, it can be extremely helpful for victims to seek reasonable compensation for all of the psychological, physical, and emotional pain and suffering they were forced to endure. Not only can pursuing legal action help victims hold wrongdoers accountable for their actions, but it can help to provide them with the financial resources needed to cope.
Woburn, MA – Trial Beginning Soon for Woburn Memorial High School Abuse Case
Last fall, a freshman at Woburn Memorial High School went into the locker room after a football game. On that September night, several students, including multiple football players in their uniforms, followed the student into the locker room and began assaulting him.
The group of individuals pulled the teen’s pants down and touched his genital areas. They threw water bottles at the student and poured multiple bottles over him.
In March 2023, a trial is set to be underway surrounding this incident of physical and sexual abuse.
School Sexual Abuse Victims
Although we commonly hear about children being victimized in religious settings, there are a significant number of people who are abused and assaulted while in school. Although many cases involve students who are abused by teachers, administrators, and other authority figures, it is all too common for students to be subjected to sexual abuse perpetrated by other students.
Although criminal courts can help to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions, there are instances where victims may be able to take civil action against those at-fault as well. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the attack, lawsuits may be pursuable against the perpetrators, the school, and other entities.
Civil Claims for Sexual Abuse Victims
Even though these cases often give rise to criminal prosecution, which can result in jail time, probation, fines, and other sanctions, these consequences do nothing to help victims move forward. Instead, a civil lawsuit can help victims recover monetary compensation for the harm they suffered.
The type and amount of compensation that a victim will be able to recover is often determined by the specific facts of each case as well as the applicable legal theory. Sexual abuse cases generally fall under personal injury laws. These cases can help victims recover compensation for various damages they face.
Some of these include:
Pain and suffering
Posttraumatic stress disorder
Mental health expenses
Loss of consortium
In order to recover compensation for these and other damages, the court will need to find the perpetrator liable. Working with a skilled legal team can make a significant difference in your ability to get justice.
What Type of Sexual Abuse is identified in Lawsuits?
If you have been sexually assaulted, you may be able to pursue legal action in civil court against the person who caused you harm. In some cases, the named defendant can be a person, an institution, or a group of people. Although criminal charges can help to bolster your claim and prove that the defendant is responsible for your damages, it is not a requirement for a person to be criminally prosecuted in order for you to take legal action.
In Massachusetts, we see many victims pursue legal action after being subjected to various types of abuse. Some of the conduct that is generally seen in sex abuse lawsuits include:
Working with a Massachusetts sexual abuse attorney can make a significant difference in your ability to recover timely compensation after being harmed. Our lawyer at the Law Office of Carmen L. Durso has made it his mission to help childhood sexual assault victims get the justice they deserve. Our law firm has extensive experience and resources that are extremely beneficial when it comes to victims pursuing legal action.
We aim to create a comfortable and inviting atmosphere where victims can come to our law firm and discuss their abuse with our team. We then get to work immediately on putting together a solid legal claim against the perpetrator.
Attorney Durso had decades of experience helping victims get justice after being harmed.
Some of the cases in which we have helped children of sexual abuse in school include those against:
Other students who commit sexual assault
Administrative staff members
In addition, we help victims take legal action against the school or the entire district if they were negligent in allowing the abuse to take place. We have helped hundreds of victims file successful claims against public, private, charter, and religious schools.
Attorney Durso has also helped countless victims pursue legal action against various institutions. These include:
Churches or other places of worship
Youth sports clubs
Nursing homes/long-term care facilities
Juvenile detention centers, jails, and prisons
Having helped hundreds of victims get the justice and the compensation they truly deserve, you can depend on our team to help you move forward.
Contact our Law Firm Today
If you have been sexually abused, it is important that you seek compensation from your abuser. Filing a legal claim will help you gain a sense of closure and help you move forward. Not only can a lawsuit help you recover the compensation you need to help cover some of the costs and damages you face, but filing legal action often helps victims truly move forward and cope with their traumatic experiences.
At the Law Office of Carmen L. Durso, we are truly committed to helping you protect your legal rights and best interests. We will fight vigilantly to ensure you get the maximum amount of compensation available for your claim.
You can call our Massachusetts sexual abuse law firm at 617-728-9123. Schedule a case evaluation with our team at your earliest convenience to get started.
Notes: This post was created through the use of secondary sources. The details surrounding this incident have not been independently verified. If any information is incorrect, contact the Law Office of Carmen L. Durso as soon as possible so that we can correct the post to include the most accurate information available.
Disclaimers: We have provided compassionate legal representation to children, adult survivors of child sex abuse, and people who have been assaulted by an adult for more than 50 years in Massachusetts. None of the information in this post is intended to be medical or legal advice. This is post is not a solicitation for business.