Advocates expect increase in victims coming forward after Catholic sexual abuse allegations list

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HAMPTON ROADS, Va.  - It has been one day since the Catholic Diocese of Richmond released a list of priests who have substantiated claims of sexual abuse against them. Area advocacy groups for survivors are already feeling the affects.

"We see an increase within the hotline because people are triggered," explained Courtney Pierce with Samaritan House in Virginia Beach.

Samaritan House offers a wide variety of resources both on the phone and in person. While they are expecting to see an increase in calls to the hotline over the next few days, they say friends and family members should also be prepared.

"It's really important to empower survivors to do whatever it is they want to do - if that’s to come forward and let their community know about their abuse or seek one-on-one counseling or speak to a friend," said Pierce.

If a survivor does come to a friend, Pierce suggests listening and support.

"People say they don’t have the words or they're not well-trained to handle the situation, but a listening ear is really important," said Pierce. "Affirmation and confirmation of their victimization is also important."

The state of Virginia is also prepared to handle cases of sexual abuse by a priest. Last year, Attorney General Mark Herring launched the Virginia Clergy Abuse Hotline. The number for the hotline is 1-833-454-9064.

For more information about the Samaritan House and the services they offer, visit their website.

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