Sexual abuse is a very sensitive area of the law in Illinois, especially when children or the elderly are involved. Therefore, we handle cases that include sexual abuse by a clergy member, school teacher, school staff member, coaches, or police officers.
Sex abuse also can involve elderly victims abused by nursing home staff members.When you’ve suffered like that, the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can help you get the compensation and justice you deserve.
Contact our Naperville personal injury law firm at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Seeking Justice and Getting the Compensation You Deserve
But where do you start? A civil sex abuse case can be difficult to handle for various reasons, including:
- Time limit restrictions (two years from your 18th birthday in most cases)
- Complicated laws governing these types of claims
- The emotional difficulty of dealing with such personal issues
Hiring an experienced lawyer who knows how to navigate all this is crucial to have your best chance at success!
Criminal Sexual Assault
According to Illinois law, criminal sexual assault is defined as:
“An act of sexual penetration or contact, however slight, by the use of force or threat of force by a person 18 years of age or older against a person not the spouse of the offender; or an act of sexual penetration or contact, however slight, accomplished with the use of force or threat of force by a person, under 18 years of age against a person not the spouse of the offender.”
Illinois Criminal Sexual Assault Laws & Penalties
Criminal sexual assault in Illinois is classified as either aggravated criminal sexual assault or criminal sexual assault. Below are the penalties for both classifications.
The Legal Issues of Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault
Aggravated criminal sexual assault is the more serious of the two classifications and is punishable by 3-6 years in prison. If it can be proven that you used a weapon while committing this offense, then the minimum sentence is six years in prison.
Criminal Sexual Assault
This crime is punishable by 2-5 years in prison. The maximum sentence for criminal sexual assault is ten years in prison.
Defenses to a Criminal Sexual Assault Charge
A few defenses can be used against a criminal sexual assault charge. The most common is consent. If it can be proven that the accuser gave consent, then the court may dismiss the criminal sexual assault charge, and the defendant would avoid a conviction.
Additionally, lack of evidence or mistaken identity can also be used as defenses in criminal sexual assault cases to overcome a legal issue.
The Lifelong Ramifications of Sexual Assault
Our Naperville, IL, personal injury lawyers have been helping sex abuse victims for decades. Yet, sadly, many of our clients are still suffering the severe consequences of being sexually abused, molested, or assaulted weeks, months, years, or decades ago.
According to data collected by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1 in 5 women nationwide have been raped.
In addition, independent research reveals that nearly one-third of female rape victims were first assaulted before they turned 18 years old.
Unfortunately, the effects of rape or sexual abuse can last a lifetime. In addition, victims may struggle with a wide range of physical, emotional, and psychological problems that can make it difficult to function normally in everyday life.
Victims of sexual assault or abuse often suffer from a variety of physical problems, including:
- Pain during sex
- Vaginal discharge
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Urinary incontinence
- Gastrointestinal disorders
The victim might also have problems breathing, chronic fatigue, chest pain, dizziness, and recurrent episodes of fainting or seizures. Victims are also more likely to experience physical problems related to pregnancy resulting from rape.
The Psychological & Emotional Impact
Sexual assault victims may develop anxiety disorders, depression, phobias, eating disorders, panic attacks, and exhibit self-destructive behaviors. Victims may also experience shame, guilt, low self-esteem, feelings of helplessness and powerlessness, hypervigilance (always feeling as if danger is near), or a lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities.
In most sexual harassment or abuse cases, the victim knows the perpetrator. Rape is often a life-altering event that causes victims to experience fear, anxiety, and depression. These feelings of despair can result in anger issues and the development of an anti-social personality.
In addition, adult survivors of child sexual abuse often suffer from:
- Unresolved feelings related to their child sexual abuse
- Feelings of powerlessness or vulnerability
- Difficulty trusting others and forming intimate relationships
- Low self-esteem and feelings of guilt or shame
- Poor body image and shame related to sexual experiences
- Sexual difficulties (including fear, anxiety, flashbacks, or obsessions regarding sex)
- Confusion around sexual identity and intimacy issues (i.e., developing a promiscuous lifestyle to overcompensate for low self-worth)
- Disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, somatization disorders, dissociative disorders, or other mental health conditions may also develop
- Sexual issues resulting from sexual assault are often confused with so-called “dysfunctions,” which affect millions of people and are not caused by prior sexual abuse experiences
Note that many victims never seek help, often due to feelings of guilt and self-blame. Shame, embarrassment, and a fear of not being believed often keep victims silent.
However, victims must understand that the abuse was not their fault and not alone. There is help available, and victims should not hesitate to reach out for assistance.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault or abuse, please don’t hesitate to contact our Naperville, IL, personal injury lawyers for a free initial consultation.
We can help you get the resources and support you need to begin recovering from this terrible crime.
Childhood Sexual Abuse
Studies show that childhood sexual abuse can cause various emotional and psychological problems later in life. In fact, according to the CDC, studies have shown that people who were abused as children are three times more likely to have depression than those who weren’t assaulted.
They may also struggle with:
- Anxiety disorders
- Substance abuse issues
- Suicidal ideation
- Poor body image
- Relationship problems
- Sexual problems (including experiencing fear, anxiety, flashbacks, or obsessions regarding sex)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Studies show that 28 percent of women and 6.6 percent of men experience PTSD at some point in their lives. In addition, children who are sexually abused are even more likely to develop this disorder if they were assaulted by someone they knew and trusted.
Symptoms of PTSD often include:
- Emotional numbness
- Difficulty trusting others
- Suicide attempts
Not everyone who experiences childhood sexual abuse will develop PTSD, but it is a very real possibility. If you are struggling with the symptoms of this disorder, it is critical to seek medical attention right away.
Sexual Violence and PTSD
According to the National Center for PTSD, women who experience sexual violence are also at risk for developing this condition. “For women who have experienced both sexual violence and other trauma (such as combat or a natural disaster), 76 percent will develop PTSD at some point in their lives.”
Sexual violence can include anything from being raped to being groped or having someone expose themselves to you. It is a very real and pervasive problem and one that often goes untreated.
If you have experienced sexual violence, it is important to seek help right away. PTSD can be debilitating, but it is treatable.
There are many excellent resources available, including:
- The National Sexual Violence Resource Center
- Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)
- Your local rape crisis center
- Sexual Assault Survivors Anonymous
If you are struggling to cope with the aftermath of sexual violence, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. You are not alone.
Types of Sexual Abuse
Sexually abused victims often experience a range of abuse, including rape and sodomy.
According to the RAINN, these are the different types of abuse that can happen during sexual assault:
- Contact sexual abuse is non-consensual contact or attention with another person’s sex organs. Non-consensual contact includes:
- Touching someone’s breasts or genitals
- Unwanted sexual touching forcing someone to touch your genitals
- Penetrating the victim’s vagina/anus/mouth with any body part or object
- Ejaculating on the victim
- Non-contact sexual abuse is exposure to sexual images, sounds, or objects without physical contact includes viewing pornography, being forced to view genitalia, or being shown sexual body parts.
- Verbal abuse is any spoken language that degrades or humiliates another person or forces another to participate in sexual acts. It includes pressuring the victim to engage in sex, making derogatory comments about body parts, and using obscene language.
- Emotional abuse happens when emotional tactics intimidate, threaten, humiliate, blame, or shame another person into engaging in sexual activities. Examples of emotionally abusive behavior include stalking, destroying personal property, and making joint decisions that impact the victim’s sense of safety.
- Economic abuse occurs when money manipulates or controls someone else’s behavior. It includes controlling all financial aspects of the relationship, withholding the victim’s access to money, making the victim ask for cash, and opening credit cards in someone else’s name.
Environmental abuse happens when the environment is used as a tool to control someone else’s behavior, including:
- Limiting one person’s access to transportation, education, employment, and housing options
- Forcing a victim to leave their home or community
- Using physical force or weapons to harm or threaten others in front of the victim
- Blocking the victim’s access to support services
- Exposure to pornography or sexual images is a form of non-contact sexual abuse
- Photographic and video exploitation where sexual abuse victims, especially children, are subjected to posing, acting, and participating in sexual activity captured in imagery
- Sexual violence can have many long-term effects on victims
Remember that you are not alone, and there is help available. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you struggle to cope with the aftermath of sexual violence.
The Serious Consequences of Sexual Abuse in Churches, Synagogues, and Mosques
Sex offenders harm individuals and families by their actions. In addition, perpetrators of sexual abuse in churches, synagogues, and mosques damage the organizations to which they belong.
Far too often, pastors or other leaders who should be accountable for protecting their congregations from abusers shield them from justice. Unfortunately, they also protect the abusers from the consequences of their actions.
Many offenders are allowed to leave quietly without warning their congregation(s) about why they are leaving. Others are allowed to quietly transfer to ministers elsewhere without informing anyone about the ongoing abuse or that there have been multiple victims.
Isolating and Silencing the Congregation
These strategies isolate and silence future victims because they do not have an opportunity for support or healing.
When pastors, rabbis, imams, priests, monks, and others protect abusers instead of victims, they are complicit in the abuse. They not only allow the predator to continue abusing but send the message that the organization doesn’t care about the safety and well-being of its members.
This betrayal of trust can have a long-lasting negative impact on individuals, families, and entire congregations. Victims may feel betrayed, abandoned, and unsafe. As a result, they may withdraw from the congregation or never return to a place of worship.
When an abuser is allowed to stay in ministry, victims have been known to leave or threaten suicide if they do not get help and change their ways.
Ministers and other church leaders often ask: “What impact will it have on the congregation if we ask the minister/rabbi/imam to leave? What will they think about us?”
The answer is that by protecting abusers and sending them into other ministries to continue their abuse, you harm many more people than just those who know about the original victimization.
Protecting a Sexual Abuser
Protecting an abuser sends a strong message to the congregation that the church, synagogue, or mosque does not care about their safety and well-being. It also tells them that the organization is more interested in keeping things quiet than their interest in healing and justice.
When an abuser is allowed to stay in ministry, it can devastate victims and their families. They may feel betrayed, abandoned, and unsafe.
They may withdraw from the congregation or never return to a place of worship. Victims have been known to leave or threaten suicide if they do not get help and change their ways.
Church leaders need to remember that by protecting abusers, they harm many more people than just those who know about the original victimization. In addition, by sending abusers into other ministries to continue their abuse, the church harms many more victims.
Sexual Abuse Cases at School
Any sex offender inside a school environment can be a ticking time bomb. By definition, individuals convicted of sexual offenses against children are considered at high risk of re-offending.
That means that any child in school is potentially at risk from someone who has already proven themselves capable of harming a child.
There are currently no reliable statistics on how many sexual abuse cases occur in schools in the U.S. each year. Still, according to data compiled by USA Today back in 2004, there are roughly six sexual offenses at the elementary/secondary level reported every day.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has stated that “Nationally, an estimated 9.6 percent of students ages 12 through 18 experienced sexual abuse and 6.1 percent of students in the same age group were treated for injuries from sexual assaults.”
According to Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty, Inc. This organization tracks child abuse cases going back more than twenty years, “In 2011 alone, there were a reported 1,955 incidences of sexual abuse by school employees nationwide.”
Unsuspecting Sexual Abusers At School
Perhaps the most shocking cases of school sex abuse do not involve a teacher but support staff. In 2013, for example, a janitor at an Indiana high school was charged with 16 counts of sexual misconduct after being accused of lewd acts involving pre-adolescent children.
But even more common are accusations against teachers themselves. Unfortunately, this has become so commonplace that there is even a term for it: “the teacher sex scandal.”
To try and prevent these kinds of heinous crimes from happening, schools must have policies in place that deal with sexual abuse. In addition, all staff need to be aware of what these policies are and be held accountable if they fail to report any suspected abuse.
Filing a Sexual Assault Compensation Case
Every sexual abuse victim has the legal right to hold their abuser accountable legally and financially. However, filing a sexual assault compensation case can be complicated. The intense legal issues and the need to comprehend civil tort law and follow procedure can be daunting.
However, hiring a Naperville sexual abuse lawyer can help. Having help understanding how to file a sexual abuse compensation claim can make the process more manageable.
A sexual abuse lawyer can also assist with keeping on top of deadlines, filing paperwork correctly, and dealing with any problems that might arise during the case.
A qualified Naperville, IL, sexual abuse attorney knows what is required when filing a sexual abuse compensation case and can help victims get the financial relief they need and deserve.
Are You Ready To File A Claim?
If you or someone you care about has been sexually abused, don’t hesitate to contact a qualified sexual abuse attorney in Naperville today. Our outstanding lawyers will listen to your story and guide you as we move forward.
Hiring a Sexual Abuse Attorney to Resolve a Compensation Case
Our Chicago, IL personal injury law firm has a national reputation for ensuring that our clients receive maximum compensation for the serious consequences of being sexually abused.
Are you or another family member a victim of sexual assault? Do you seek legal advice on how to get financial compensation and justice to hold the sex offender accountable? Call our law firm at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free initial consultation.
We accept all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee basis. This practice ensures that you pay nothing until your case is resolved through a negotiated settlement or jury award.