Lawyers Fight for Victims of Sexual Abuse or Assault
You are not alone, and it was not your fault. Being the victim of a sexual assault or sexual abuse is traumatic in ways most people cannot understand. However, if you have been a victim, there are many who do understand what you’re feeling: someone in America is sexually assaulted every 73 seconds according to statistics from the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN). One of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime, as have one out of every 33 men.
While the rate of sexual violence declined by more than half between 1993 and 2016, according to RAINN’s statistics, it’s still a vast problem with many victims who suffer in silence – which can make even the most thorough studies unreliable. Are you a victim?
Most people will believe that this is a matter of criminal law, and it is, but there’s more to it. You should know that civil litigation – that is a lawsuit – may also be an option.
What Is Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse is any undesired sexual encounter with another person and can include:
- Sexual contact
- Sexual or inappropriate requests
- Inappropriate photos or videos
- Forced viewing of pornographic photos or videos
Someone is taking advantage of you, in other words. They’re making you do or submit to things despite your unwillingness to do or see or participate. These are usually criminal offenses, but you may also be able to seek relief in civil court. You should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss the specifics and determine the strength of your case.
What Is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the consent of the recipient. It can include:
- Unwanted groping, fondling, or sexual battery
- Unwanted or unlawful sexual intercourse
- Coercion of the victim to perform sexual acts on the perpetrator
- Sexual activity with someone who is unable to consent due to impaired consciousness, generally caused by drugs, drunkenness, and various medications
- Sexual activity with someone who is too young to consent
This is what most people think of when they think of sexual crimes. The criminal justice system should absolutely be involved, but regardless of its success or failure in punishing the person who hurt you, it may be in your best interests to pursue a civil action to seek compensation as well.
What is Childhood Sexual Abuse?
Childhood sexual abuse refers to any sexual act that occurs between an adult and a child. It may include:
- Sexual videos, games, pictures, or other images
- Forced viewing of pornographic photos or videos
- Any other lewd behavior
Children are especially vulnerable. As a parent, you can’t be there for them 24/7. When someone takes advantage of a child, it is often from a position of authority. A parent or guardian can file a civil action on behalf of their child, seeking compensation for the harm that was done to help in the long road ahead.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me?
As we’ve said above, if you have been a victim of sexual abuse, you may be able to take legal action against your assailant or others who may have contributed to your injury. It does not necessarily matter if the case goes through criminal court or even what that verdict is. You may want to file suit against the person who did you harm, or against someone who allowed you to come to harm due to their negligence – like employers who failed to properly background check people they hired and therefore put you at risk.
Remember: the criminal justice system is focused on criminals. It is not designed to help make victims whole. Civil justice is a very different animal, because it focuses on compensating people who are injured by the acts of others. You’re not trying to prove someone committed a crime, you’re trying to prove that they did you harm, and that you deserve compensation for it.
That’s where we come in.
What Kinds of Sexual Conduct Can I Sue For?
Any nonconsensual sexual act that does you harm could be grounds for a lawsuit. Some examples include:
- Sexual abuse (regardless of age)
- Sexual assault and/or battery
- Attempted sexual assault or rape if the act did you harm
Remember that the key here is that the person who committed or attempted the action did you harm.
What Kind of Harm Could I Suffer as a Result of a Nonconsensual Sexual Act?
Physical Harm – Injuries to, or any violation of, your body are harm. From bruises to broken bones and beyond, these are injuries for which you can seek compensation.
Mental or Emotional Harm – Are you having trouble sleeping? Suffering symptoms of depression? Emotional distress is not uncommon and comes in many, many forms. Victims of sexual crimes have also been diagnosed with PTSD. This is pain and suffering, plain and simple.
Financial Harm – Did you have to change the locks? Move? Pay for therapy or medical bills? Miss work or find a new job? If a reasonable person can conclude that the financial damage you suffered was a result of the harm another person did to you, you may have a case.
What Compensation Can I Seek if I Was the Victim of a Sexual Crime?
While there is nothing we can do to erase the trauma or undo the damage, we can help you seek compensation and closure. If you’re harmed, you can seek compensation for:
- Medical bills, including therapy
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress and trauma
- Financial hardships resulting from the harm
- Punitive damages, in some cases
Sexual activity of any kind requires consent. If you consent to a sexual act and withdraw that consent at any point during the act, the act must stop. If it doesn’t, you are being assaulted or raped. You cannot be coerced into consent, just as you cannot be coerced into signing a legally-binding contract – you have to be willing and not coerced. If someone has assaulted, abused, or raped you, what you do next is vital – evidence needs to be collected as quickly as possible. Report the act immediately.
Where Does Sexual Abuse, Assault, and Rape Happen?
Anywhere, for a short answer. There are situations and locations that probably seem like obvious places these offenses could occur. Parties on campus, especially when alcohol is involved, or bars and concerts. Any place where someone wields absolute or near absolute authority and could leverage it for sexual reasons. Places where an authority figure or person is supposed to be a confidant or advisor, and can manipulate that position. These also bring up the specter of sexual harassment.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment involves any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other unwanted verbal comments or physical contact of a sexual nature. This type of harassment ranges from discreet remarks, gestures, and jokes to overt actions such as indecent exposure, being touched, grabbed, pinched, or brushed against in a sexual way. These behaviors may leave you with a feeling of fear, anxiety, or dread.
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Workplace harassment is any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. It has two types:
- Quid pro quo is when submission to, or rejection of, sexual harassment is used as the basis for employment decisions. Generally, only individuals with supervisory authority over a person can engage in quid pro quo harassment as it requires the harasser to have the authority to grant or withhold benefits.
- Hostile environment is where the harassment creates an offensive working environment. It occurs when an employee is subjected to comments of a sexual nature, offensive sexual materials, or unwelcome physical contact as a regular part of the work environment.
Sexual Abuse at Church
Clergy abuse occurs when sexual abuse is enacted by a priest or other religious appointee. Many victims of clergy abuse are minors, between the ages of 13 and 17, but anyone can be a victim. There have been many scandals involving the church, and no denomination or specific religion is immune to the possibility.
Sexual Abuse by Counselors and Healthcare Professionals
Healthcare professionals, such as doctors, psychologists, massage therapists, and chiropractors, are governed by rules of professional conduct that require them to observe boundaries between themselves and their patients. Claims against healthcare professionals include:
- Assault and battery
- Intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress
- Negligent hiring and supervision
Title IX & Campus Sexual Assault
More than 10% of university students experience sexual violence during college. Colleges and universities have the responsibility to protect their students, and students have the right to feel safe on their campuses. Title IX was enacted to help protect people from sex-based discrimination, including sexual harassment, in education or activities that receive federal funds. It applies to all institutions receiving federal financial assistance.
The Sad Facts of Sexual Abuse and Assault, and What to Do About It
Sadly, abusers are often people whom the victim knows and trusts. It could be a teacher, a family member, a member of the clergy, etc. Victims may find that they’re abused by those who hold positions of authority and control. If you were a victim of rape or abusive sexual contact, it was not your fault, and you should not be afraid to speak out.
They rely on your silence. Contact the authorities and tell them your story. Then call us.
The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin may be able to assist you. Call us at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online for a free and confidential case evaluation. We’ll give you an honest assessment of your case, and if we think we can help you, we’ll fight for you tooth and nail.