I was interested to see on today’s Victoria Derbyshire programme that victims of abuse at the hands of Jehovah’s Witness elders are contemplating claims against the organisation.
The BBC report that at least 20 former Jehovah’s Witnesses are suing the group over historical sexual abuse that they suffered.
I became involved in a claim previously involving abuse by a Jehovah’s Witness elder in which my client eventually secured damages of over £1 million.
This client, however, like so many other victims was reluctant to bring a claim directly against the Jehovah’s Witness organisation. He felt that the appropriate way to obtain compensation was through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority and we successfully dealt with his claim over a ten year period eventually securing approximately £1.4million in damages.
What I learned from this case was how deeply victims of this type of abuse can be affected. Not only do victims have to contend with the abuse itself and the subsequent psychiatric injury but they are also affected by the impact it has on their faith and relationship with family members who often remain loyal to the organisation.
In the same way as a victim of abuse within the Church not only suffers from the abuse but also the impact it has on their faith a Jehovah’s Witness victim has to contend with this and the likelihood that many of his or her friends and family will remain faithful to the organisation and his or her relationship with them will be impacted.
I was keen to pursue a claim on behalf of my client as a result of the abuse that he suffered but as with so many others he was very reluctant to go against the organisation. It is therefore now very interesting to see that a group are coming forward to bring a claim for the abuse that they suffered.
It is to be hoped that the organisation will deal with these victims properly and that there will be no attempt to protect the abusers or to “close ranks”.
From my own involvement with these victims I suspect that there are many more instances where attempts have been made to deal with the issues internally.
As long ago as 2017 reports were surfacing that multiple former Jehovah’s Witnesses had been abused as children and that this abuse was being covered up.
It is to be hoped that these victims will now have the strength to come forward and report their experiences.
As a department we specialise in claims for victims of this type of abuse and if you wish to discuss any aspect of this one of our specialist solicitors will be available to provide advice. Call us on 0330 134 6430 or contact us by email.