Victims Generally Know Their Abuser.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women, and one in 71 men will be raped during their lives. Unfortunately, victims of sexual assault know their attacker in approximately eight out of 10 cases. When a child is the victim of sexual abuse, the rates are even higher—90 percent of victims know their attacker. To compound this, nearly half of all the abusers of children are family members. When sexual assault occurs on a college campus, 85 to 90 percent of the victims know their abuser and more than half of these assaults involve a date with the attacker.
This is perhaps why, in many cases, victims do not know whom they can trust with information about their abuse or assault. For more information or to seek confidential legal council consider the sexual abuse attorneys at the Gomez Firm.
How Prevalent Is Sexual Abuse?
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), three out of four cases of sexual assault and rape are reported to law enforcement agencies. This may seem high given the recent publicity associated with the #MeToo movement, but the fact remains that victims are reluctant to come forward because they do not feel anyone will believe them.
There are varying reasons for victims failing to report incidents of sexual assault. Among the most common reasons are:
- Fear of retaliation
- Belief law enforcement will not help
- Belief law enforcement officials cannot help
Victims have also been reluctant to report because they believe they would not be believed by law enforcement or other agencies. This reluctance is generally unfounded because statistics show that the incidents of false rape reports range between two and eight percent.
Sexual Abuse Is Not Always Rape
Sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence are all considered sexual abuse crimes. However, California statutes clearly state any intimate contact must be consensual. In cases of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence, the perpetrator may face prosecution under sexual abuse statutes, assuming the prosecutor can demonstrate:
- Sexual violence – Sexual threats and intimidation, harassment, coerced activity, and sexual assault of a partner are considered sexual violence crimes and may be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the specifics of the case.
- Stalking – California Penal Code 646.9 defines stalking as any action that involves following, harassing, or threatening a person and causes them to fear for their safety.
- Intimate partner violence – Verbal, emotional, or sexual violence against an intimate partner or former intimate partner can constitute intimate violence. Economic control is also another form of intimate partner violence.
Trusted Advisors and Sexual Abuse
Statistically victims know the person who is abusing them. The abuser is often someone the victim trusts such as a member of the clergy, a teacher, or a caregiver. Often, these are the sexual abuse claims that go unreported out of fear of retaliation or because the victim fears no one will believe them. Children are more likely to be victimized by a trusted advisor than adults.
Reporting Sexual Abuse to Law Enforcement
When a victim of a sexual assault reports their claim to law enforcement agencies, it is with the expectation the victim will receive some form of justice, assuming the perpetrator is prosecuted and found guilty. Unfortunately, while a guilty finding is possible, the statistics on the prosecution of these crimes are dismal. Out of every 1,000 reported cases of rape, only seven will result in a conviction. The criminal justice system often leaves victims feeling as if they were attacked a second time. But there’s another way they can seek justice.
Sexual Abuse Victims May Seek Civil Remedies
Many victims of sexual abuse, or parents of children who suffered sexual abuse are unaware they need not depend solely on the criminal justice system. Victims of sexual abuse suffer emotional trauma, may have suffered bodily injuries, and may deal with lasting psychological issues. One option to help deal with the potential costs of dealing with these issues, is to file a civil lawsuit against the person responsible.
A civil claim can enable a victim to seek compensation for monetary losses including loss of wages or earning capacity, cost of medical and psychological treatments, as well as costs associated with any medications that they may need to deal with pain or trauma. Additionally, victims who have physical scarring may also be entitled to additional compensation.
Victims may also seek punitive damages. These damages are awarded for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, and other issues that victims could face as a result of trauma including anxiety and insomnia. While compensation cannot undo the trauma associated with sexual abuse, victims should not have to suffer financially while they recover physically and emotionally from the harm done to them.
While victims suffer the physical and most challenging psychological trauma of sexual abuse, it is important to remember that sexual abuse may affect entire families, particularly when it involves a child.
Personal injury lawyers who handle these cases understand they are very difficult and require someone who has the appropriate level of sensitivity and compassion when dealing with victims. These cases also require experts to help victims and their families cope with the effects of the abuse.
If you or your child are a sexual abuse survivor, seek guidance from a California sexual assault attorney who can help you move forward. They will always take sexual abuse claims seriously when a survivor comes forward. A California personal injury attorney who has experience handling a variety of sexual abuse cases can help answer your questions, inform you of your rights or the rights of your child, and help you determine the best steps to take to hold the person accountable for their atrocious acts of sexual abuse.
Gomez Trial Attorneys
655 West Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101