Sexual abuse affects women across all age groups, and from all walks of life, including transgender women, lesbians, and women with disabilities. Sexual abuse against women is a horrible crime, and one that is more widespread than many people realize. Thousands of women report being sexually abused each year. The repercussions of this form of abuse affect not only the victims and survivors, but family, friends, and the wider community as well.
Woman sexual abuse can be committed by a current or past spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend, a roommate; an acquaintance; a family member; or a stranger. Sexual abuse survivors have one thing in common: they have experienced a power loss. The attorneys at Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm helps return that power to the survivors by providing them with the resources needed to believe in themselves, heal, and recover. We fight on behalf of victims throughout the state of California. Through the civil court system, we send strong messages and offer unparalleled representation that results in meaningful changes.
We’ve helped dozens of victims and survivors find joy again, and we stand ready to the same for you. Whatever happened, you have to know that you are not at fault, and you’re not responsible for another person’s wrongful behavior. Call us today at (310) 359-9451 or complete our online contact form to learn about your legal options.
Overview of Women Sexual Abuse
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) has established that women experience sexual abuse at high rates. According to the organization, 1 in 6 American women has been raped at some point in her lifetime. In fact, 90 percent of adult rape victims are female. Women ages 18-24 are 4 times more likely to be sexually abused. Victims are at risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy. According to RAINN, the average number of sexual abuse cases against women of childbearing ages is about 250,000.
Sexual abuse is defined as an act in which an individual is physically forced or coerced to participate in a sexual act without their consent. Sexual abuse can be visual, verbal, physical, or anything that forces another individual to engage in unsolicited sexual contact. It is an umbrella term that covers a broad range of unsolicited sexual acts including, voyeurism, sexual harassment, rape, incest, exhibitionism. Sexual abuse can occur in different situations and can be committed on a date, by a stranger in an isolated place, or at home by somebody you know. Rape can be committed many situations- by a friend or an acquaintance, on a date, or when you think you’re alone. An attacker could be a total stranger or someone known the victim.
Whenever an assault is perpetrated by a relative or a friend of the victim, it can leave the victim confused. One may be left wondering; did the perpetrator commit the act out of love? Was a boundary crossed? Was I somehow to blame for the act? These are just but some of the questions that linger in the victim’s mind. In the shock and blur following the abuse, it can be challenging for the victim to tell what actually transpired.
In essence, it’s sexual abuse if:
- An individual masturbates or touches their genitals in front of you
- A person uses a drug to lower your inhibitions
- A person forces you to watch pornographic content on a computer, magazine, television, or phone
- A person has sexual acts with you against your will in aggravating circumstances
- A person makes you touch their genitals
- An individual shares your naked picture with other people or posts it online
- A person touches you in a sexual manner on your breasts, anus, or vagina
- The perpetrator knows you cannot or do not want to consent, or has no reasonable
- Any other sexual act that would make most individuals feels extremely uncomfortable
Furthermore, sexual assault can include the following:
- Giving or getting unwanted oral sex
- Being forced to perform sex acts on an animal or object
- Being forced to insert objects into your vagina or anus
- Being forced to perform sexual acts on another person who might be a victim as well
- Sexual penetration with a bodily part or an object
There are a number of misconceptions about sexual abuse of women. These misconceptions can significantly interfere with a woman’s ability to receive the necessary support needed when telling their stories. Such delusions can fuel sexual violence by suggesting that women give men permission or provoke them to sexually abuse them by being in certain places, flirting, being drunk or intoxicated, or wearing certain clothing. Such misconceptions can leave a woman blaming herself for what happened and may not recognize that she has been sexually assaulted. As such, she might be hesitant to seek help or talk about her experience because she feels embarrassed or ashamed.
The Health Impacts of Sexual Abuse
Unsolicited sexual behavior from another person can have a wide range of harmful impacts on a woman’s psychological, emotional, mental, spiritual, reproductive, and gynecological health. The adverse effects of previous child sexual abuse incidents for women may be far-fetching, long term, and intricate. Sexual assault can profoundly mess up a person’s world as well as the patterns of their unfolding life. It can traumatize and intensively violate every single aspect of their being. This can include her physical and emotional health, her relationship with her body, her sense of self, her sense of safety everywhere, including in healthcare settings, and in intimate relationships.
About 81 percent of sexually abused women suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to the National Violence Resource Center. The need for health care is 16 percent higher for women who were sexually abused as children and 36 percent higher for those who were sexually and physically abused as children. The negative consequences on a woman’s health and welfare can worsen if no one believes their side of the story or they are blamed when they speak about being sexually abused for the first time. If it takes too long for the victim to get the appropriate care and support needed after a sexual assault, the impact may be more severe.
What Makes Women Vulnerable to Sexual Abuse?
Community attitudes play a big role in preventing or supporting sexual abuse of women. Research shows that women are mostly abused in relationships, institutions, societies, and communities where men have more power than women when pro-violence attitudes exist, and where there are stiff expectations about women’s and men’s behavior.
Sexual abuse generally is an indication of power relations and women are more than likely to be victimized because they usually lack power than men, have been socialized to suffer in silence, are in more insecure and vulnerable positions, or lack self-confidence. In many areas, the relationship between the sexes includes a significant amount of violence against women. According to the reports by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), one in every three women in the U.S. will be sexually abused at some point in their lives. Also, about one in every five women reported attempted or completed rape at some point in their lives.
Steps to Take After Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is one of the most horrible experiences an individual can be subjected to. If you have been assaulted, you should know that you’re not alone in this. Even though no one should go through this horrible experience, each year, thousands of women report being sexually assaulted. The actual number could be higher because many incidents go unreported.
The first step you should take following sexual abuse is to disclose it to someone you trust. It could be a friend, therapist, a relative, lawyer, or law enforcement official. While this can be difficult, it is imperative that you speak out as soon as you can. Keeping the abuse secret can be mentally and emotionally unhealthy, but reporting the incident as soon as possible can help you remember important details and could also prevent another person from being a sexual abuse victim.
There are different sources you can use when finding help. You just have to choose the one that you feel most comfortable with:
- Regional Medical Attention
- Anonymous Online Support: http://online.ranin.org/
- Local Law Enforcement
- National Sexual Assault Home: 800-656-HOPE (4673)
- Local Sexual Abuse Attorney
At Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm, we understand the difficulty that survivors face when it comes to opening up after being sexually abused. Our legal team will make sure that your rights are protected. Our attorneys have worked with hundreds of women, consulting, encouraging, and empowering them to boldly navigate the legal system and overcome the tragedy of sexual assault. We understand the sensitive nature of these cases, and you’ll find us compassionate, understanding, thoughtful, and experts at listening.
Parties That Can Be Held Liable for Sexual Abuse
Sexual abusers and other associated third parties must be brought to justice. This includes being held legally and financially liable for their actions. The individual who violated you, those who enabled the attack, or the institution that acted negligently and allowed the abuse to happen may all be called to account for the attack. In addition to the individual perpetrator, other parties can be held accountable for their direct participation or oversight associated with the abuse in a court of law. This can include but not limited to:
- Companies or organizations that hire supervisors or managers who coerce employees into unsolicited sexual encounters
- Property owners who are aware of dangerous individuals or unsafe conditions of their property but take no action
Your life doesn’t have to be defined by the atrocious act that was committed against you. You can overcome and lead a healthy and happy life after sexual abuse. Just make sure you report the abuse to the police or seek immediate medical attention. The legal team at Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm can help you hold the liable parties accountable for your abuse and ensure that you get justice through the civil courts.
Filing a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit
Survivors of sexual abuse can file a criminal and civil lawsuit against the abusers. Criminal charges are filed through the government against the offender. Civil charges, on the other hand, are filed by the victim in order to obtain monetary compensation for damages resulting from the physical and mental injuries sustained after the abuse.
In a civil lawsuit, liability does fall on the perpetrator alone. It can be broadened to incorporate third parties who played a role in facilitating the assault. Taking legal action against a responsible third party is often a more effective approach to recover damages since they typically have insurance and enough resources to compensate the victim than the individual perpetrator. Also, it’s imperative to hold institutions facilitating assault liable so as to correct the dangerous environment created in their facility and to also prevent future cases of sexual abuse.
Even if the offender never faced criminal proceedings, or they did, but charges were dropped, victims of sexual abuse can still file civil charges against them. While the outcome of a criminal case may affect awards for a civil case, it is still possible to win in a civil case, regardless of whether or not the criminal charges result in a conviction. The standard of proof in a civil court is lower than that in a criminal court. Your attorney needs to prove that the likelihood of the perpetrator having assaulted you is at least 51%. Your counsel must be able to demonstrate the following:
- your case meets the definition of sexual abuse,
- the sexual activities were non-consensual,
- you are within the statute of limitations, and
- the defendant isn’t protected by any a shield of law or signed agreement.
If a lawsuit is brought against a person who has a legal mandate to report suspected or witnessed abuse, your attorney must prove that the individual negligently as to their duty of care.
The California Civil Litigation Process
The litigation process in California starts when the victim files a lawsuit in a civil court. The plaintiff (victim) initiates this process when they file a formal complaint with the court clerk. The plaintiff must then send a notice to the defendant within 60 days of filing the suit, informing them that a lawsuit has been brought against them. This serves as a proper notice before the court date. The defendant must then respond within 30 days. They can admit or deny the allegations OR ask the court to dismiss the complaint because it is defective. The court then determines personal jurisdictions and a location where the case will be held is confirmed.
The Discovery Process
This process is profoundly bureaucratic and encompasses numerous back and forth between the parties involved. Both parties must meet to discuss the nature of this case. This is basically done to establish the exact issues and points of disagreement, to make plans for discovery and disclosure, and to propose the possibility of settlement. Depending on the facts of your case, discovery and disclosure can easily consume more time since the parties must disclose the different pieces of information they’re planning on using as evidence in court.
Litigation, Motions, and Discovery
After the discovery stage, the defendant can file answers and motions to respond to the initial complaint or dismiss or discredit accusations made by the plaintiff. The plaintiff can also make a motion for summary judgment. The judge will review the facts and grant the motion if there’s no factual dispute. Once this period is complete, both parties yet again disclose documentation, and the discovery process continues. The parties have another chance to file for more motions, and lastly, the court will hold one pre-trial conference. The court will then schedule a trial date if the case does not settle.
In reality, most of the action you see on TV occurs during the trial. The trial serves to determine which party is presenting truthful facts. The plaintiff presents her case first and will then be followed by the defendant, who will put on their defense. The judge or jury will then decide the case, which may involve dismissing it in favor of the defendant or determining the amount of settlement in favor of the plaintiff.
Once the judgment is issued, post-trial proceedings can be made. This can include an appeal, or a motion to amend or vacate the judgment. If either party decides to appeal the judgment, they have yet another chance to present their case, which may or may not change the final judgment. Appeals are only considered by virtue of oral arguments or briefs, which serve to show why the judgment was inadequate or unjust and to propose another judgment that the court can put into effect instead. Ultimately, the final verdict or ruling is rendered, and judgment is implemented. This implies that whatever ruling the court makes must be followed and this marks the end of the litigation process.
With our client-centered practice, we never skimp on important matters. We engage in aggressive litigation that exhausts all legal remedies on behalf of our client and leaves no stone unturned when it comes to discovery and investigation.
Types of Compensation for Women Sexual Abuse
Women who become victims of sexual abuse often face major challenges when it comes to recovering from their trauma, including difficulties maintaining regular routines, diminished physical and mental health, lack of financial resources to access reasonable medical care, difficulties finding stable employment, parenting, and housing, and lack of familiarity with accessing trusting service providers. The good thing is that if you have been sexually abused in California, you can fight back and obtain fair compensation for any injuries and damages suffered.
As a survivor of sexual abuse, you may be able to recover damages for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Psychological counseling
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Lost earning capacity
- Emotional distress or trauma
- Pain and suffering
The court may as well award punitive damages to punish the perpetrator and related third parties. To improve your chances of receiving maximum compensation, ensure that you notify the police about the attack within a reasonable period of time. You should also cooperate with law enforcement even if the perpetrator has not been arrested. Under California law, you must file a civil lawsuit within 10 years of an assault or 3 years after discovering injuries caused by the abuse. You may need to submit medical or police reports to support your claim.
We can help you collect the evidence needed to make a legal claim. It’s important that you preserve as much evidence as you can. For instance, you can print off internet logs, photograph injuries, keep details of all doctor’s or hospital visits, and keep the clothes you were wearing safe in a freezer bag. Try to get the names and addresses of individuals who could have witnessed the incident, including those you spoke to regarding the assault. We will relentlessly pursue maximum compensation for your financial and physical losses.
Find a Women Sexual Abuse Attorney Near Me
A lack of financial resources should never hinder you from receiving the necessary help you need following sexual abuse. Several support groups, rape crisis centers, and non-profit programs provide free counseling services to sexual abuse victims in order to help them through the aftermath of these horrible attacks. Whether you’re an adult victim or the parent of a young woman who has been sexually abused, the consequences of this crime may take you through the full range of emotions, but you don’t have to suffer in silence. A seasoned sexual abuse attorney can provide legal counsel and empower control over the course of the proceedings.
Los abogados del bufete de abogados Stop Sexual Abuse tienen la experiencia, la compasión y la determinación para ayudarlo a recibir justicia y recuperar la compensación después de un incidente de abuso sexual. Comuníquese con nuestras oficinas legales para obtener asistencia y orientación legal para ayudarlo a superar este período difícil y emocional, o llámenos al 310-359-9451 para programar una consulta gratuita y confidencial con uno de nuestros abogados.