What Is Considered Sexual Abuse?
If you or a loved one have been the victim of sexual abuse, you may be able to file a lawsuit for financial compensation. The question is what falls under the heading of sexual abuse.
The term actually has a broad definition and could allow you to receive financial compensation for a wide variety of illegal sexual acts. If you or a family member have been sexually abused, contact the attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers to learn more about your legal rights.
Statistics About Child Sexual Abuse
Even though much of the recent publicity has focused on the abuse of boys at the hands of organizations like the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts of America, sexual abuse is a problem that affects both gender. In fact, statistics show that young girls are more likely to experience sexual abuse than boys. 82% of victims under the age of 18 are girls.
In a given year, tens of thousands of children will suffer abuse. For example, in 2016, there were nearly 60,000 substantiated complaints of child sexual abuse. These are just the cases where the victims have come forward.
Many do not come forward out of fear or not thinking that they will be believed. In addition, the definition of abuse is far more extensive than the cases that Child Protective Services may substantiate.
Child Sexual Abuse
Child abuse is defined as sexual activity with a child by an adult, adolescent or older child.
It does not matter whether an adult engages in sexual behavior with a child with their consent. When a child is underage, there is no such thing as consent.
There are two different types of child sexual abuse:
- Touching (which is described in the section immediately below this one)
Unwanted Sexual Contact
Sexual abuse includes any type of unwanted sexual activity or contact. The legal definition of this behavior includes:
- Fondling a child's body parts
- Unwanted sexual touching
- Attempted rape
- Forcing a child to perform such acts (such as masturbation and oral sex)
- Attempted or actual penetration of the body
Child Pornography Is Considered Child Abuse
Unwanted touching is not the only way that child sexual abuse can occur. There does not have to be physical contact for it to be legally considered to be taking advantage of a child. If the adult exploits the child for purposes of their own sexuality and gratification, it can be considered abuse, even if there is no force involved.
Here are some behaviors that are sexual in nature for the adult that can be considered child sexual abuse:
- Watching a child dress or undress
- Observing a child using the bathroom
- Trafficking a child
- Exposing oneself to a child
- Taking pictures of the child in sexual poses
- Showing explicit photos or videos to the child
Preventing Child Sexual Abuse
When it comes to abuse, being proactive is the key to prevention. Parents should be vigilant to spot the signs that their child may be a victim of sexual abuse. Some of the indicators are:
- Sudden nightmares without any explanation
- A dramatic change in eating habits
- Withdrawal from activities that they used to enjoy
- Extreme fear around one particular adult or situation
If you suspect any signs of child abuse, it is crucial that you go to the police immediately. Do not try to be the judge of whether your child is telling the truth about whether they were sexually assaulted. Let the police handle the investigation because this is what they know how to do.
Awareness is key when it comes to prevention of sexual abuse. Children must be made aware of what types of behavior they should report, and adults must understand spotting the signs and act quickly.
Unwanted Sexual Activity Towards Adults
Adults can also sue their abuser when they have been subject to sexual assault. They certainly sue for rape and attempted rape.
They can also sue when they have been the victim of illegal sexual conduct, such as groping. This is considered a form of battery, and adults can recover financially in a lawsuit.
In addition, adults can also recover financial for other forms of sexual exploitation, such as trafficking.
Sexual Abuse Survivors Have Long Term Effects
Any person who was the victim of sexual abuse or assault, whether it was as an adolescent or an adult, will be forced to live with the trauma.
Most victims will suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. In extreme cases, victims of child maltreatment will be so psychologically devastated by the conduct that they have endured, that they may attempt suicide because they cannot live with the pain.
Beyond that, there will be long term effects for physical and mental health for the rest of the victim's life. A woman or child who was abused or assaulted may not even be able to work. Many women are unable to engage in healthy relationships for the rest of their lives.
Lawsuits for Abuse and Sexual Violence
Sexual assault and attempted rape is not just a crime. You may also file a lawsuit against the person who committed the act.
It does not matter whether the person who committed the sexual acts is convicted of the crime. Civil lawsuits have a lower standard of proof than a criminal charge.
In a civil case, you must prove your allegations by a preponderance of the evidence. This is more than 50-50. In a criminal case, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Other Lawsuits for Sexual Behavior
Even if there is no over touching or physical contact involved, you may still have grounds for a lawsuit. For example, if there were suggestive comments or threats in the workplace, you may file a lawsuit for sexual harassment. Employers and coworkers cannot instill fear in you based on any type of sexual request or conduct.
Contact a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Attorney
The attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers help victims of sexual abuse take legal action against the perpetrators and the people who enabled them to attack and abuse you.
For example, if your abuser worked for an institution of religion, such as the Catholic Church, you may sue them as well to recover damages.
Call us today at (888) 424-5757 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation. Children who were abused can file a lawsuit as an adult. Our firm will provide you with legal support, and you will receive updates about where your case stands regularly as part of our commitment to client service.
Contact us for a free case assessment to learn whether you have a potential lawsuit for financial compensation.