Far more people suffer sexual abuse than is generally known. Because the offense has been a well-kept secret in families and institutions for generations, it has not, until relatively recently, been openly discussed or dealt with — so only its victims have been punished.
The recent #MeToo movement has empowered many survivors of sexual abuse to come forward. If you have been sexually abused, even if the abuse took place years ago, you are entitled to your day in court. Compass Law Group, LLP, an esteemed personal injury law firm with offices throughout California, is ready to hold your abuser accountable and to help you receive the compensation you deserve. Our sexual abuse attorneys are compassionate as well as skilled; we will always treat you with respect and empathy.
What exactly is sexual abuse?
Sexual abuse is forcible sexual contact or sexual contact with a minor or disabled person who is incapable of giving consent due to age or mental, physical, or psychiatric incapacity. It can involve:
- Molesting, fondling, sexual touching
- Engaging in sexual activity in front of another person
- Showing pornographic images
- Exposing obscene materials verbally, through reading or messaging
What is the difference between sexual abuse and sexual assault?
While there is often overlap between the two, sexual assault involves some measure of violence. Though it may be argued that any sexual abuse, since it involves coercion or force, is violent, sexual assault typically includes rape (penetration of any bodily orifice), restraint, or infliction of physical pain.
Who are the likely perpetrators of sexual abuse?
Perpetrators are those with authority over the victim. They commonly misuse their power over those they are supposed to tend or protect. Therefore, offenders are most often:
- Daycare providers
- Camp counselors
- Coaches and scout leaders
- Members of the clergy
- Parents, stepparents or foster parents
- Other older relatives
- Spouses or partners
- Family friends, neighbors
- Caregivers of children or the disabled
- Employers or supervisors
What personal injuries do victims of sexual abuse suffer?
Because of the element of secrecy, victims of sexual abuse tend to self-blame, experiencing shame, embarrassment, and guilt in addition to fear and revulsion. Most victims have been threatened with violence or other horrible consequences if they speak out and therefore turn inward, experiencing widespread emotional damage and post-traumatic stress. Symptoms may include:
- Changes in mood and personality
- Isolation and withdrawal from family and friends
- Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Poor performance in school or at the workplace
- Nightmares (also bedwetting in children)
- Depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem
- Difficulty forming or maintaining normal sexual relationships
- Drug and/or substance abuse
- Suicidal thoughts and/or attempts
These severe consequences require professional treatment by a psychotherapist, counselor, or psychiatrist. Survivors may require medication in addition to prolonged talk therapy in order to recover.
Even if your abuser is criminally charged and found guilty, you will likely end up holding the bag for your financial losses and the misery you have gone through. This is where our sharp attorneys come in. Whether or not your abuser is arrested, tried for his/her crimes, or found guilty, we will fight aggressively for your right to receive damages in civil court. Depending on your particular circumstances, we will use well-developed strategies to win damages for:
- Medical bills
- Mental healthcare costs
- Prescription medications
- Loss of income
- Physical pain
- Emotional suffering
- Loss of consortium
What will our sexual abuse attorneys do to protect your rights?
First of all, our experienced lawyers will listen to your story with patience and empathy. Once we determine that you have a viable case, we will investigate your claims and locate witnesses, even if a long time has passed since the abuse took place. If there is an institution, business, or organization involved, we may be able to sue the entity, not just the individual who abused you. In most situations, this will give us the opportunity to seek a more substantial settlement.
What is the statute of limitations for sexual abuse in California?
In California, if you were an adult and the incident occurred before 2019, you are entitled to file for damages within 10 years of the date of the incident(s), or within 3 years from the date that you became aware of it. If you were a child at the time the abuse took place, you have until your 40th birthday to file a civil action, or within 5 years of your discovery of the abuse. Moreover, the new statute of limitations, passed in 2020, has made it possible to revive claims that were previously barred by the old statute; so long as it is filed within 3 years.
As you can see, there are many complexities to the laws surrounding sexual abuse. This is why it is crucial to have a knowledgeable sexual abuse attorney on your side. At Compass Law Group, we are determined to work tirelessly to bring you the just outcome you need to recover and move forward.