Institutional Abuse Claims

Anyone can be the victim of institutional abuse, regardless of gender, institutionality, age, or other defining characteristic. Institutional abuse is a widespread, pervasive, societal issue. An estimated 1.8 million Albertans– nearly one in two members of the local population – have been the victims of institutional violence in their lifetimes.

The perpetrators of institutional abuse exploit an imbalance of power between themselves and their targets to engage in non-consensual institutional activity. If a person abuses their position of power, takes advantage of a young or vulnerable person’s trust, or exploits someone else’s dependency upon them to take advantage of them institutionally, they have committed institutional abuse.

Abusers often use threats, blackmail, emotionally manipulative tactics, intimidation, and violence to get what they want. Their targets are often children, teenagers, and members of vulnerable populations. Perpetrators often seek employment in occupations that will put them in close contact with potential victims, such as:

  • Teachers
  • Religious leaders
  • Sports coaches
  • Camp counselors
  • Scout leaders
  • Extracurricular programme guides
  • Psychiatric hospital staff
  • Correctional officers, guards at juvenile detention centres
  • Foster parents
  • Caregivers
  • And more

According to the Criminal Code of Canada, institutional abuse is an indictable offence. Those who are found guilty of committing this reprehensible crime could be subject to incarceration. After the crime has been reported to the police, the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service can pursue criminal charges against the perpetrator.

However, people who have survived being the target of a institutional predator can also choose to pursue a civil claim against them and any other people or organizations whose negligent actions may have put them in harm’s way. By doing so, survivors of institutional abuse may be able to recover financial compensation for damages they have incurred as a result of the trauma they were forced to endure.

Our institutional abuse lawyers are committed to helping survivors pursue closure, compensation, and justice. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today.

The Impacts of Institutional Abuse

Being the victim of institutional abuse can have long-lasting consequences that impact various aspects of an individual’s life. In particular, those who were subjected to abuse in childhood or adolescence may find themselves struggling to come to terms with and overcome their trauma well into adulthood and, often, for the remainder of their lives.

It is not uncommon for survivors of institutional abuse to develop self-destructive coping mechanisms as ways of dealing with their traumatic experiences. Responses to abuse can include self-harm, unhealthy lifestyle choices, and a reliance on alcohol and/or other substances. In fact, institutional abuse survivors are 26 times more likely to develop substance use disorders.

Throughout their lives, survivors of institutional abuse may struggle with trust issues, making it difficult for them to form and maintain relationships with friends or romantic partners. Additionally, survivors of institutional abuse often develop a number of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Depending on when the abuse occurred, survivors may have found it impossible to continue on pursuing higher levels of education or vocational training. As a result of someone else’s criminal actions, survivors of institutional abuse could sustain a reduced future earning capacity, fail to reach their potential, and become ineligible for employment opportunities.

In addition to this loss of potential earnings, people who have been subjected to institutional abuse could incur substantial financial losses in relation to the trauma they have withstood. Survivors of institutional abuse often require ongoing, long-term psychological treatment, psychiatric care, prescriptions, addiction counselling, and other expenses. Many struggle to afford the costs of care required to truly reckon with the abuse to which they were subjected.

Who Is Liable in an Institutional Abuse Claim in Alberta?

A person who has been institutionally abused by an individual is entitled to hold them accountable for their actions. However, in some cases, other parties or entities may be considered to be contributorily negligent. If the actions (or inactions) of others made it easier for the perpetrator to carry out abuse, they might also be liable for a survivor’s damages.

In many institutional abuse claims, the individual perpetrator may not have sufficient personal funds to pay the settlement award they owe the survivor. By taking action against a contributorily negligent third party, claimants in institutional abuse cases may be able to recover the compensation to which their are rightfully entitled.

Institutional institutional abuse refers to incidents of institutional abuse that occur within the context of an institution or organization that fails to protect targets from exploitation. Oftentimes, this includes a culture of secrecy that prioritizes the organization’s or individual perpetrators’ reputations over the physical and emotional well-being of the young or vulnerable people it is meant to serve.

If an organization’s leadership was negligent in its duty to protect individuals from institutional exploitation, or if they failed to take appropriate action after receiving reports or complaints about abuse, their silence could have earth-shattering consequences for countless others. By allowing a institutional abuser to continue working in a consequence-free environment, negligent organizations essentially condone their criminal actions, exposing even more people to life-changing trauma. As such, contributorily negligent organizations may be liable for damages arising from institutional institutional abuse.

Institutions are often found vicariously liable for abuse committed by their employees or volunteers. For example, churches are often vicariously liable for abuse committed by priests; school boards are often vicariously liable for abuse committed by teachers.

Contact Our Legal Team Today>

Our institutional abuse lawyers appreciate how much courage it can take to talk about past trauma. During a confidential, free initial consultation, you will have the chance to share as many details about your experience as you are comfortable with, and receive personalized, case-specific advice about options for legal actions that might be available to you.


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