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Bakersfield Child Sexual Abuse Lawyers

Child sex abuse is a devastating problem in Bakersfield. If you or your child are a survivor of child sexual assault, many resources can help you recover and take back control of your life—including a Bakersfield personal injury lawyer at Gomez Trial Attorneys.

With recent changes to California’s sexual assault laws, more survivors are now eligible to file a civil case against their abusers. If you or your child have endured abuse, contact Gomez Trial Attorneys to talk to one of our attorneys about your case.

Recent Changes Mean Expanded Rights for California Survivors

On January 1, 2020, a new law went into effect permitting childhood sexual abuse survivors to file a personal injury claim against their abusers or the entities and organizations where the abuse took place.  This law allows for a three year window to file a lawsuit until January 1, 2023.  Also, under the new law, survivors will have until they reach the age of 40 to file lawsuits against their abusers beyond 2023. Under the previous law, the latest that a survivor could make a case was his or her 26th birthday, or if the memory had been repressed and came to light during a certain period of time.

This is big news for survivors of child sex abuse and expands the timeframe to file dramatically. Those who could not previously file a case against their abusers may now have that option. Your rights matter. At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we’re here to help you seek justice. If you have questions about this new law, contact our firm today to talk to one of our attorneys about your case.

The Prevalence of Child Sex Abuse

It’s nothing short of shocking to look at the numbers regarding child sexual abuse. The fact is that abuse is a bigger problem than most people realize. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), every 9 minutes, a child endures a sexual assault. According to the non-profit organization Darkness to Light, one in ten children will experience sexual abuse before the age of 18. Those who do suffer abuse are at higher risk of suffering from a variety of other issues in the future, including anxiety, depression, drug abuse, and prostitution. Because of this, it’s important to get child survivors the care they need as soon as possible.

However, only one out of every 5,000 perpetrators will ever go to jail. While most of these survivors are between the ages of 13 and 17, over one-third are under the age of 12. Children are some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens, yet abuse continues to happen at an alarming rate.

Perhaps even more frightening than how often abuse happens, is who perpetrates the abuse. In over 90 percent of child sex abuse cases, the abuser is someone the child knows. 34 percent of the time, this person is a member of the child’s family. Believe it or not, only 7 percent of all child sex abuse cases involve a stranger.

Where Does Child Sexual Abuse Happen?

In 90 percent of all child sex abuse cases, the child knows his or her perpetrator. However, this doesn’t mean that it is a member of the family, or even a close personal friend. Most children interact with a variety of people every day.

Unfortunately, abuse can happen anywhere, including:

  • Daycare: When we choose a care provider, we trust that the staff members will take care of our child. Whenever you enroll your child in a daycare or private preschool setting, you should also run a background check on the provider and ask for references. It is wise to follow your gut and instinct. If something seems off, you may be right.
  • Church: The recent reports of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church highlight how abuse can happen anywhere. It’s always important to remain vigilant, even in places where you least expect abuse to happen.
  • The neighbor’s house: 40 percent of abused children suffer their abuse at the hands of older children. Unfortunately, this means you need to be careful about whose house you let your child visit. For younger children, it’s always best for them to play under adult supervision.
  • Club activities: This may include Boy Scouts, recreational sports, music clubs, or other extracurricular activities.
  • At home: Unfortunately, many cases of sexual abuse happen when a new partner enters the house. Carefully vet all new romantic partners before you introduce them to your children, and always maintain clear boundaries and expectations.

Recognizing the Signs of Sexual Abuse

Because child sex abuse often involves someone that you or your child already knows, it’s not enough to practice stranger danger. As parents, we do our best to surround our children with people we trust. Unfortunately, abusers take advantage of this trust. In some cases, your child may come to you to report the abuse. If this happens, take your child seriously and listen. However, in many cases, children don’t report the abuse, either because they are scared or aren’t aware of the abuse.

This makes it extremely important to recognize any changes in behavior.

Emotional symptoms include:

  • Anxiety, especially in certain circumstances or around certain people
  • Depression or thoughts or talk of suicide
  • Mood changes, including anger, sadness, and agitation
  • Fascination or obsession with sex
  • Inappropriate behavior
  • Early sexual activity

Physical symptoms include:

  • Bedwetting
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Pain

If you see any of these symptoms, talk to your child. Do not ignore the situation. If you have suspicions about where the abuse may be happening, you should remove your child from the situation right away.

What to Do After Suspected (or Confirmed) Abuse

Your actions can make a big difference in stopping any abuse and making your child feel safe. First and foremost, if you know how the abuse is happening, do everything in your power to make it stop. If it is happening at a daycare provider, pull your child out immediately. If a family member is the perpetrator, cut all ties. Your child’s safety is the number one priority. Do not let your child return to the place of abuse.

Once you have removed your child from the situation, you can get your child help. This includes:

  1. Reporting the abuse. Sex abuse is a crime. The very first thing you should do is report the abuser to your local police. If you don’t feel like you can safely do so, see number two.
  2. Contacting a sex abuse resource center. Local and national sex abuse resources can help survivors and their families. These centers can connect you with doctors and mental health professionals, as well as provide information about local laws. If you are worried about your and your child’s safety, many services and shelters can help.
  3. Going to the doctor. As uncomfortable as it may be for you and your child, he or she needs to have a thorough exam if you suspect abuse. You want to rule out any infection, injury, or disease. Your child’s primary care doctor can also talk to you and your child about the abuse and connect you with local resources.
  4. Seeking mental health services. Abuse is difficult for anyone to process, but especially for young children. You want to provide someone for your child to talk to and help him or her process what has happened. Depending on your child’s age and level of comfort, this may mean play sessions, individual sessions, or sessions with you present. Speaking of counseling, it’s a good idea for you to look into counseling for yourself, as well.
  5. Calling Gomez Trial Attorneys. We can help you determine what steps can protect your or your child’s legal rights. We may find a way that you can seek compensation to pay for the treatment you and your family need to recover.

Help for Adult Survivors

If you suffered abuse in the past, a new law may open up new opportunities for you to file a case against your abuser. While you may question whether you want to open up past wounds, it’s important to take care of yourself. For most people, abuse doesn’t just go away. The trauma can live on for years after the initial incident.

If you are unsure whether a personal injury suit is right for you, consider your quality of life. Are you depressed or anxious? Do you suffer from PTSD or drug abuse? Survivors of child sexual abuse are at a higher risk for all of these problems. While a personal injury suit won’t take away the abuse, it can help you get the treatment you need.

This may include:

  • Mental health counseling
  • Drug and alcohol treatment
  • Inpatient treatment

Additionally, if you cannot find stable employment because of psychological stress, a personal injury claim may help you recover lost wages or participate in worker training programs.

Nobody can force you to file a personal injury suit. This is your choice. However, it may be helpful to lean on friends and family for support to help you make your decision. If you have questions about your rights or would like more information about what the process entails, contact our office at 619-237-3490.

Sex Abuse Resources

There are many resources available to survivors and their families after abuse. Many of these places offer 24-hour hotlines for emergency help, and their websites also contain helpful information about abuse centers, mental health providers, and local laws. Local and national resources include:

  • RAINN: One of the nation’s largest resources for survivors of sexual abuse. 24/7 hotline at 800-656-HOPE.
  • Darkness to Light: Dedicated to preventing child sexual abuse, with a national hotline at 866-FOR-LIGHT.
  • The Center for Family Justice: Working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Sexual assault hotline at 203-333-2233.
  • CALCASA: California’s resource center for survivors of sexual abuse. 24/7 Crisis line at 661-327-1091
  • Stop it Now: Resource center for child sexual abuse. Hotline open Monday through Friday: 1-888-PREVENT.

In addition to the above resources, your primary care physician can direct you to emergency services and mental health care providers in your area. Don’t underestimate how important it is to reach out for help, for you and your child.

Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Seek Legal Help

California law allows child sex abuse survivors extended time to file a personal injury case. However, in most cases, it is better to file a suit sooner rather than later, if possible. There are a few reasons for this, including:

  • Evidence: Evidence may include doctor reports, witness testimony, the child’s testimony, or your own testimony. When it comes to all of these items, the longer you wait, the less reliable the evidence will be. For the strongest case, you don’t want to wait too long.
  • Mental health care: Prompt counseling can lessen some of the longterm effects of sexual abuse. A personal injury suit can help you recover damages to care for inpatient or outpatient treatment. If you are struggling with untreated mental health issues or are having difficulty paying for your care, a personal injury suit can take away some of this stress.
  • The future: If you plan to file a personal injury case, it can provide a sense of closure to put the case behind you. While it won’t give you complete closure, it helps to know that you have options.

Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys to Speak With Someone You Can Trust

We know that a personal injury case can make you feel like you are rehashing the abuse all over again. The goal of a personal injury case is to allow you to move forward with your life and get the care you deserve. There is strength in recognition and holding the perpetrator responsible.  As such, you will never feel any pressure from us to do anything that you are not ready to do, and if you need to stop, then we will stop. Your case is yours, and the last thing that we want to do is make things harder for you.

At Gomez Trial Attorneys, you can count on us to provide the highest level of respect and confidence. We know how personal this experience is and will only provide information with your permission to parties who are relevant to the case. Your comfort is important to us, and as such, we will work with you to find the attorney and team that is right for you. If you ever have any questions or concerns, our team is here to help.

Choosing to file a personal injury suit can be a difficult choice. If you have questions, we are here to guide you through the process and help you understand what to expect. To learn more or to get started, contact Gomez Trial Attorneys at (619) 237-3490, or visit us online for a free, no-risk consultation.


Gomez Trial Attorneys
1825, 18th Street
Bakersfield, CA 93301
(619) 237-3490

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