Will Coming Forward Help Other Victims of Child Sexual Abuse?
The number one way to prevent child sexual abuse is to talk about child sexual abuse. Your experience can and will empower others.
Over time, as we heal, we become more and more confident. Traumatized victims transform into empowered survivors. Those who felt alone find their communities. The silent find their voice. Survivors who receive help go on to help empower other survivors. Everyone’s journey is unique. And how you go about it will always be up to you. But you can help. Perhaps, more than you could possibly imagine right now.
Will Coming Forward Help Other Victims? Even if I Stay Anonymous?
Yes. When you come forward and disclose your abuse, you will be helping other survivors of child sexual abuse. This is true even if you remain anonymous the whole time.
Taking legal action helps to:
- Expose a clergy abuse predator who may still have access to children right now, saving today’s children from being abused.
- Potentially reveal evidence about a clergy abuse predator (or institutional cover-ups) that is valuable to your community of fellow survivors.
- Help other victims feel less alone and more like a part of a community. As you may have experienced, predatory grooming is designed to isolate the victims. Many survivors carry this isolation forward for decades after the abuse. Your actions can help others heal and feel supported, valued, and heard.
When anonymous survivors come forward, their cases help to transform public perception about clergy sexual abuse, and of sexual abuse in general.
In 2018, a University of Chicago survey found that nearly 2 out of 3 Americans believe sexual assault is a widespread problem. 39% percent of the survey respondents reported that they now believe sexual assault is more common than they previously thought. The most frequent factors that impacted their thinking were:
- 70% cited news reports about victims
- 38% cited social media posts from victims
- 30% of people responded that their views were changed when someone they know told them directly about their assault
- 28% said they heard second-hand about victims in their community or friend group
This is a big change that is thanks to so many survivors coming forward, even anonymous survivors. Over time, as survivors heal and become more confident, sometimes anonymous survivors may decide to become more public. That is an individual decision and a personal choice each survivor needs to make for themselves.
For over 30 years, we have been helping survivors seek justice anonymously or publicly.
The Perpetrator that Abused Me is Dead. Does it Matter if I Speak Out? He Can’t Hurt Anyone Else.
Although the perpetrator is dead, your pain is still real and valid. There may also be other victims who will benefit from you filing a lawsuit and taking legal action. Your lawsuit may provide evidence needed to substantiate the experience of other victims.
Seeking accountability for your abuse is still important, even if the perpetrator is dead.
If you decide to work with an experienced sexual abuse attorney, they will assist you through the legal process. Filing a lawsuit may help hold guilty institutions accountable that covered-up abuse instead of taking actions to stop child sexual abuse.
You can file a lawsuit against the organization that covered up the crimes of sexual predators even if the predator is dead.
Another option for disclosing your abuse is talking to a therapist. The National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child has trained counselors answering the phones 24/7 to guide you through the process of reporting. You can also contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at RAINN, the Rape and Incest National Network at 1-800-656-4673.