One of the most common reasons victims have for not coming forward about sexual abuse later is that they do not wish to interact with their abusers again. The idea of facing one’s abuser can be paralyzing. However, it could also be empowering. You may need to face your abuser if you file a lawsuit, but you will never be with him or her alone. You will have your attorney by your side and you will be in a courtroom full of people. Finally seeking justice for your sexual abuse experience can punish the defendant and enable you to heal.
What to Expect During a Sexual Assault Lawsuit
A lot of the fear and uncertainty victims feel at the beginning of the civil lawsuit process comes from not knowing what to expect. Feeling left in the dark about how long the process might take, when and if you will need to see your abuser, and how much privacy you will have during the process can make you nervous. Do not let these fears get in the way of your pursuit of justice and compensation. Learn what to expect during the average case.
- Filing the claim. You will need to come forward to an attorney to initiate the claim process. You will have to give details about your abuse experience and help your attorney find available evidence, such as eyewitnesses or counselors. It can be difficult to start the process, but your lawyer can walk you through the next steps.
- The discovery phase. In a sexual abuse court case, both parties will undergo the discovery phase. During this time, the defendant’s attorney may ask you questions and request documents or information. Your attorney can help you prepare for this phase and collect evidence from the defendant’s side. You will not have to see or interact with the defendant during discovery.
- Privacy concerns. Filing a civil sexual abuse lawsuit does come with certain losses of privacy. If your case goes to court, it will become a matter of public record. Your psychological history may become evidence during litigation. However, things you say to privileged parties, such as your lawyer, will remain confidential.
- Potential triggers and flashbacks. It is possible that your lawsuit will bring up memories you have suppressed for many years. Answering questions, trying to recall what happened, etc. can trigger flashbacks and anxiety or depression. Work with a therapist to discuss whether you are psychologically and emotionally ready to pursue a claim.
- Hearings. Court hearings are the only settings where you may have to face your abuser during a sexual assault lawsuit. Both you and the defendant will be present at hearings. However, your attorney will be representing you. You do not have to speak to the defendant if you do not want to. If talking to your abuser will be cathartic, a public hearing can be a safe space to do so.
Lawyers have methods to protect your interests and emotional health during a civil sexual abuse claim. Today, the claims process is much easier on victims than it used to be. Legal changes have created a safe environment in which victims can assert their rights and have their stories heard. Filing a claim can give you the opportunity to seek justice against someone who has caused you harm.
Why File a Lawsuit?
Do not let fear of facing your abuser interfere with your pursuit of justice. Filing a civil claim can give you the opportunity to hold the perpetrator responsible and obtain compensation for your abuse-related losses. Actions based on sexual abuse or childhood sexual abuse can provide a sense of closure for victims. It can provide proof that the defendant did in fact commit the abuse, even without a criminal trial. It can also feel empowering to stand up against your abuser and to obtain a settlement or verdict for your losses.
Another good reason to pursue a claim is for the financial potential. Restitution from a criminal trial may pay back some of the victim’s damages, such as medical bills and lost wages from abuse, but it will not compensate for emotional losses. Only a civil lawsuit gives the victim the right to fight for emotional distress or mental anguish damages. A personal injury claim against the abuser could result in the recovery you need to move forward.
Discuss Your Concerns With Your Attorney
If you worry about facing your abuser during a sexual abuse or assault lawsuit, speak to an attorney. A lawyer can help you understand if and when you might need to see the perpetrator during your case. A lawyer can also take care of most legal processes for you, so you can limit your interactions with the defense.
Your sexual abuse attorney can take steps to protect your rights and privacy. Coming forward in the form of a lawsuit can bring a close to a traumatic experience. Call Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC at (888) 424-5757 for a free, confidential consultation today.