Thousands upon thousands of people are victimized by sexual abuse in the United States each year. Many of these file civil lawsuits against the party or parties responsible for their victimization. Many cases involve multiple victims, while others center on only one. Under the law, these victims have a legal right to sue their abuser who caused them injury and damage. Unlike criminal cases, sexual abuse civil lawsuits are often handled discreetly with far less news coverage, if any.
When victims stand up for themselves and file a civil claim against their abuser, those victims may gain compensation for injuries and other damages. Compensation may be paid for physical effects, as well as the psychological, emotional and other injuries that can last a lifetime. Pain and suffering damages are also often awarded in civil lawsuits for sexual abuse victims.
Definition of Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is a broad term. It includes a varied assortment of offenses with the common thread of being related to sexual actions. Sexual activity is abusive when it includes unwanted, non-consensual interaction with another person. Sexual abuse can include:
- Unwanted and inappropriate touching
- Sexual assault
- Sexual exploitation
- Sexual battery
- Other related offenses
Which actions are considered criminal in a particular state can vary from illegal acts in other states. For victims of sexual abuse, their attorney can help clarify specific criminal actions in the state where their abuse occurred. If you are a victim of sexual abuse, you need to hire a sexual abuse attorney to fight for you.
Details of Sexual Abuse Cases
Sex abuse is most often caused by someone close to the victim. It is much rarer for the perpetrator to be unknown by the victim or for the abuse to occur as part of a random encounter. Abused victims often know their abuser very well, usually liking, trusting and knowing the aggressor long before the first sexual act occurs.
Victims are often exploited or abused in their own homes or the house of the abusers. Family homes, neighbors’ houses, or even community spaces are frequently the scene of sexual abuse. These acts have been known to occur in churches, places of employment, schools and other public buildings. Victims may be children, adults and even the elderly.
Elder Sexual Abuse
Elder Sexual abuse is often discovered in nursing homes and retirement living properties, with the crimes perpetrated on aging victims. People beyond retirement years are often more vulnerable, particularly when they are incapacitated or cannot take care of themselves. These victims of sexual abuse may be physically or mentally fragile, unable to defend themselves.
When the elderly accuse someone of sexual abuse, the accusations may be ignored or dismissed as confusion. Family and friends are often the last to believe an elderly person they know is being sexually exploited. These cases often involve victims who endured long-term abuse until one person believed their claims or noticed evidence of abuse.
Workplace Sexual Abuse
Sexual harassment and sexual abuse are two different types of victimizing interaction. But sexual harassment often precedes sexual abuse through inappropriate touching, sexual assault and other such actions.
Women are not the only victims in these cases, with men also reporting sexual abuse by coworkers, contractors or employers. Women tend to confront their abuser and resort to therapy or talking with loved ones to work through the issue, if possible.
Men, on the other hand, are often subjected to male-on-male aggression and domination through sexual abuse. Most reports by men are due to victimization by another man. This type of crime can be particularly difficult for a man to report due to society norms and lack of understanding of victims in these cases, by the general public. Many men experience great guilt, shame and anger – just as women who are abused do.
Victims of workplace sexual abuse often worry about losing their employment, judgment in the workplace if they report and other stigmatization of victims.
When Sexual Abuse Involves Multiple Victims
Many states have lengthier statutes of limitations for victims of sexual abuse, as compared to other types of cases. But from a historic perspective, sexual predators do not stop at one victim. These offenders tend to abuse over and over, seeking new victims throughout their lives. During these activities, many offenders are known to be abusers but people choose to ignore the problem. When no one reports the actions, sexual abuse and sex crimes continue.
Multiple victims may report one offender. Through lengthier statutes of limitations on these cases, the states are allowing more time for additional victims to surface through their own reports. This allows additional individuals to accuse the same abuser and also seek their own civil suit justice and compensation.
Civil Legal Action against Sexual Abusers
Criminal laws apply to sexual abuse, which may be enforced through a criminal case. From this type of case, offenders may be sentenced to prison, fined, provided with mandatory community service, put on probation and otherwise punished.
Civil cases enable victims to gain compensation for medical costs resulting from the sexual abuse injuries. Therapy is also provided for under a civil case monetary judgment, something most victims seek to pursue for years after these extremely violating crimes. Other costs of recovery are covered under a civil suit.