We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard that people don’t report abuse or file a claim against their abuser because they say they can’t remember their names. We are here to tell you that you don’t need to remember their names. The reasons they can’t recall their sex abuser’s name, of course, vary.
- Many kids are abused at young ages
- The brain often shuts down during/after trauma
- Many adults can’t acknowledge and deal with their abuse for decades
- Sometimes kids are abused in dark places, when asleep, by a molester who says nothing and then quickly vanishes back into his or her parents’ party or a similar setting
- Sometimes kids are in situations where a number of adults are close together (two or three wrestling coaches, swimming instructors, or school teachers), and this makes them unsure about who touched them.
- Predators keep their real identities hidden, often using deliberately vague or confusing nicknames or titles (“Just call me coach, ok?” or “My name’s tough to pronounce, so just call me Rev. Mike”).
So what to do if you know or suspect you were sexually victimized as a youngster but don’t know or recall the perpetrator’s identity? The short answer is, “Don’t worry.” Why? Because there are often ‘workarounds,’ – other ways to get information that enable you to file a lawsuit and are included in a lawsuit.
- Attorneys have very savvy investigators.
- It’s often possible to track down and get help from former teachers, students, neighbors, or co-workers about an abuser’s identity.
- Because in litigation, we at Horowitz Law can usually get internal employment records that could show where a suspected predator worked or volunteered.
- Because churches (especially Catholic churches) keep astonishingly thorough personnel records (sometimes even photographs)
Every survivor is different. Each one has different goals for ‘seeking justice.’ And to many survivors, the individual wrongdoer is only part of the picture. Often survivors are just as upset over what a supervisor or an institution did (or didn’t do) that exacerbated the harm they suffered at the hands of an individual child molester. In other words, they believe (usually correctly) that two parties are responsible for their pain – the particular person who assaulted them AND the person or persons who knew or should have known about the abuse and ignored or concealed it. In some cases, survivors are even more distraught by the enablers than the perpetrator himself.
That’s one reason some victims take legal action long after a child predator has passed away: they want their former employer to take responsibility for bringing a criminal into their organization or onto their payroll. They want structural reforms and prevention steps to spare another youngster in the same setting years later the life-altering after-effects of childhood victimization. This form of justice can happen even if the child molester is deceased or unknown.
So, we at Horowitz Law want to emphasize: Do not be deterred by what you may not know about your abuser. Don’t give up trying to learn more about it. But don’t be crippled if you never get as much recall or knowledge as you’d like. Talk with an experienced attorney. Learn about the legal process and consider exercising your legal rights no matter whether you know your abuser’s name or not.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by religious authority figures and other clergy. If you need a lawyer because a member of a religious organization sexually abused you, please contact our law firm at 888-283-9922 or send an email to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at [email protected]. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help.