Difference between troubled child sex abuse survivors vs. the thriving survivor

Adam Horowitz Law [Fort Lauderdale, FL]

August 28, 2022

By Adam Horowitz Law

There are two types of child sex abuse survivors, the troubled child sex abuse survivor and a thriving survivor. Many assume that victims who were sexually abused as children are destined to become deeply troubled failures as adults. But that is an incorrect statement. For starters, three women were sexually abused in their youth by Dr. Larry Nassar. Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, and McKayla Maroney all suffered deeply as girls when Nassar, a sports doctor, assaulted them. As adults, however, they went on to become Olympic gold medalists.

These three are far from the only childhood abuse survivors to thrive in adulthood. Actors Ashley Judd, Terri Hatcher, Mackenzie Phillips, and Gabriel Byrne are among many other celebrities who have disclosed sexual abuse. We do not mean to imply that becoming a celebrity is a sign of success. And, of course, most who succeed in adulthood do not become celebrities. Consider those who have been leaders in SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Barbara Blaine, the group’s founder, earned three advanced degrees. Peter Isely holds a Master’s degree from Harvard and started the nation’s first treatment center solely for clergy sex abuse survivors. Mark Serrano, a long-time board member, started and still runs a Washington DC-based strategic communications business that has counseled US presidents. Why does any of this matter?

Because just as there’s no one-size-fits-all profile of an abuser, there’s no one-size-fits-all profile of an abuse survivor. Nobody should ever look at another person and conclude, just by observing their behavior, that they are not victims or perpetrators. Some survivors end up being incapable of holding down a job. Others end up with highly successful careers in respected professions. Some use their experience to then help others. Some survivors end up breaking the law and going to prison. Others end up in careers like police or prosecutors, helping to stop or convict wrongdoers.

The Troubled Child Sex Abuse Survivors

We are all more familiar with the troubled survivor, a survivor who’s led a life of struggle in the workplace and in personal life. But some survivors manage to recover enough to succeed on the job and in relationships. Guess who often refuses to accept this more nuanced truth? Some church defense lawyers. They often try to make it hard on ANY survivor.

On the one hand, if a survivor came from a broken family with an absent or drug-addicted parent, church defense lawyers will argue, “Well, she was damaged goods before the priest got his hands on her, so the damages in her case should be small.”

On the other hand, if a survivor came from an intact, healthy family, worked hard to overcome their abuse by a cleric, and appeared to others to have a ‘good life,’ church defense lawyers will argue, “well, he doesn’t seem very damaged now, so the abuse must not have been very harmful, and so the damages, in this case, should be small.” Sometimes, they’ll express doubts that an adult doing well in life and hasn’t suffered through addictions and divorces and law-breaking and angry outbursts could have been sexually assaulted as children.

We at Horowitz Law are experienced at winning justice for all kinds of survivors – those who have built what seems like successful lives and those who haven’t but whose chances improve dramatically once they get seasoned legal help.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused, contact us today at (888) 283-9922 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of sexual abuse nationwide. We can help.