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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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
Physical symptoms include:
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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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