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Understanding the financial burden clergy abuse survivors face

The emotional toll that survivors of child sex abuse cope with is well-documented. Many survivors face a lifelong battle with conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression. Bouts of substance abuse and a general mistrust of authority figures might also be rooted in that childhood trauma.

One research paper attempts to capture a different, little-discussed aspect of what it means to be a survivor: the financial impact. The results are eye-opening.

Medical care, quality of life and earnings

The research paper, published by a health economist at St. Louis’ Washington University, attempts to quantify the financial burden faced by survivors of child sex abuse, as NPR reports. The researcher, Derek Brown, explained that the approach was similar to determining the long-term cost of an illness or injury.

To come up with a dollar amount, he took into account costs related to medical care, quality of life and lost earnings. The results? Brown’s research suggests, over a survivor’s lifetime, child sexual abuse can have an impact totaling more than $300,000.

A key piece of that is earnings. Because many survivors struggle with trusting authority and feeling comfortable with hierarchy, they may bounce from job to job and face hurdles others might not. This can significantly impact their income. While it may only be a few thousand dollars a year, over many decades, that adds up.

Together, these factors can put a significant financial burden on survivors and their loved ones.

Survivors have many things to consider, first and foremost their own well-being. For those at a place in their recovery where they are contemplating options, legal action may offer a possible path forward. A lawsuit can be a way to not only find closure and hold those in power accountable, but also a tool to seek compensation for the emotional and financial repercussions of what was allowed to happen.

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