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Suffering sexual abuse leaves many people feeling as though they live in a nightmare that will never end. Not only does sexual abuse frequently cause physical complications, it can also leave you with trauma and emotional scars that last for a lifetime.
If you suffered sexual abuse at the hands of another party—maybe it was clergy, a teacher, a coach, a scoutmaster, a doctor, or a therapist—you may deserve compensation for your physical and emotional suffering.
In fact, a recently revised California statute gives survivors the right to file lawsuits until their 40th birthday or within five years of the date when they discover or reasonably should have discovered that they suffered damages due to childhood sexual abuse. It also lifts the statute of limitations on all sexual abuse cases until December 31, 2022—so if someone once told you that you waited too long to take action, you now have a new opportunity to hold your abuser accountable.
Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys at (619) 237-3490 as soon as possible for your free consultation and to learn more about your legal rights following sexual abuse. Our compassionate, experienced California based lawyers want to hear your story and help you as best we can.
Sexual abuse includes any forced sexual act, using sex to control a person, or acts directed against a person’s sexuality. It may include:
Sexual abuse may occur in a single, brief context, as in the case of a rape or assault, or it may occur in an ongoing nature over time. Most often, when survivors suffer ongoing sexual abuse, that abuse occurs from someone they know: an authority figure or even a romantic partner, for example.
Many survivors of sexual abuse suffer trauma that lasts a lifetime. Survivors of sexual abuse may suffer a wide range of symptoms and impacts: some physical, others primarily emotional. Following sexual abuse, the survivor may deal with:
Abuse of any type, especially during childhood or adolescence, can substantially increase the risk of depression both during or immediately following the abuse and in adulthood. Not only does depression leave the survivor with a prevailing sense of sadness, it can leave the survivor struggling to feel interested in or connected to the world around her. Survivors of depression may feel isolated, disinterested in activities that usually bring pleasure, or constantly down in spite of current circumstances that should cause a feeling of happiness or joy.
Not only do survivors of sexual abuse struggle with higher levels of anxiety related to dating, people in authority, or sexual encounters, they may struggle with ongoing anxiety in general. Survivors of sexual assault may feel as though they cannot measure up to people who have not suffered abuse or worry about what people might think if they find out about the abuse. Not only that, survivors of sexual abuse may struggle with repeating thought patterns, difficulty dealing with authority figures, or generalized anxiety that can last long after the abuse ends.
Following sexual abuse, many survivors discover that their abuser left them with a sexually transmitted disease. Some sexually transmitted diseases can cause short-term discomfort or illness. Untreated, some STDs, including HIV and syphilis, can lead to death. Other sexually transmitted diseases linger for a lifetime, which can impact the survivor’s future sexual opportunities and performance. In women, STDs can also limit options for childbearing. STDs can also lead to infertility.
Many survivors of sexual abuse find themselves carrying an unwanted pregnancy: a constant reminder of the abuse. Survivors may struggle with increased depression, anxiety, or symptoms of PTSD while carrying an unwanted pregnancy following sexual abuse. Some abusers may prevent their survivors from using birth control, terminating an unwanted pregnancy, or receiving appropriate prenatal care.
Not only does PTSD result in increased depression and anxiety, survivors may also suffer from flashbacks or increased trauma when reminded of the abuse. Survivors with PTSD may struggle to eat or with overeating, have symptoms of insomnia, or struggle with anything that reminds them of the assault, especially things that trigger flashbacks. Survivors of sexual assault with PTSD may also note more severe emotional reactions to some triggers or difficulty with normal functioning surrounding daily events.
Many survivors turn to self-medication to help reduce feelings of shame, depression, and anxiety. In fact, survivors of sexual assault or abuse often have a much higher likelihood of abusing substances or dealing with addiction following the trauma. Substance abuse can lead survivors to further withdraw from others around them or cause an increase in violent behavior.
Many survivors of sexual assault or abuse struggle with thoughts of shame as well as the other emotional symptoms of sexual trauma. As a result, they may choose self-harm or have suicidal thoughts or tendencies. Some survivors of sexual assault go on to commit suicide. Self-harming behaviors may include more than just cutting: survivors may also engage in reckless behaviors, including reckless sexual behaviors, shut themselves off from relationships, or struggle to care for themselves properly. Survivors may overeat or struggle to eat at all, which can create many negative physical symptoms.
Many survivors of sexual abuse struggle to sleep at night. Insomnia can leave survivors struggling to get the rest they need. Other survivors may sleep excessively to escape the negative emotions associated with that abuse. Lost sleep can exacerbate the other symptoms of trauma as well as making the survivor more irritable and sensitive to emotional stimuli. Over time, lost sleep can also cause a loss of cognitive function. Frontal lobe function, in particular, often decreases on short sleep, which can leave the survivor struggling with impulse control. Sleeping too often, on the other hand, can disrupt the rest of the survivor’s life, making it difficult for him or her to complete tasks as normally assigned. Sleeping too much can indicate depression, or it can occur due to the desire to escape the trauma; however, as responsibilities pile up, the survivor may start to feel increasingly anxious. Often, this creates a vicious cycle that leads to further sleep problems, especially without psychological intervention.
Many survivors of sexual abuse struggle to feel in control of their lives. They may engage in disordered eating behaviors, including anorexia, bulimia, and overeating to feel more in control of their lives. Eating disorders can lead to excessive weight gain or weight loss. In severe cases, eating disorders may lead to death. Eating disorders may also complicate other elements of the survivor’s life. Many survivors with eating disorders struggle to eat in public or may engage in unhealthy practices. Survivors may isolate themselves from their friends and family members, especially those likely to notice symptoms of the eating disorder or who might attempt to help the survivor get assistance or treatment for that eating disorder.
When you suffer sexual abuse, you may struggle to put a monetary value on the trauma and damages you suffer. Working with an attorney, however, can help you establish the financial value you deserve for your injuries and your suffering. Though a criminal conviction of your abuser can make it easier to obtain financial compensation in a civil claim, you can file a civil claim even without a criminal conviction. You can claim damages for:
Some survivors of sexual abuse have significant physical medical bills related to the abuse. These could include:
In addition to these physical medical expenses, survivors of sexual assault may need extensive therapy or treatment to recover from many of the psychological effects of sexual assault. If survivors suffer from eating disorders, severe PTSD, or suicidal thoughts or tendencies, the survivor may need a stay in an inpatient facility to help aid in recovery. Recovering damages for sexual abuse can help the survivor pay for these expensive therapies and treatments and increase the likelihood that the survivor will recover fully. Many survivors need ongoing therapy for a long time following sexual abuse.
When you suffer severe sexual abuse, it may prevent you from returning to work immediately. Some survivors, especially those who suffer acute sexual trauma, may need recovery time immediately after the incident. Others may find that sexual abuse prohibits them from working a normal schedule. Survivors may, for example, need to leave work due to a trigger, including a panic attack. Other survivors may need extra time off work due to depression or anxiety. Those lost wages can add up significantly, especially over the course of the weeks and months following the abuse. Survivors can claim compensation for lost wages related directly to the abuse.
When the abuse prevents the survivor from working in a specific field, as in the case of severe emotional trauma, the survivor may also consider claiming lost earning potential. Some cases of sexual abuse can make it impossible for the survivor to complete their normal job responsibilities. Each survivor’s reaction to trauma will vary based on past experiences.
Unlike medical expenses and lost wages, physical and emotional suffering does not come along with a price tag. By working with an attorney, however, you can assess the ways sexual abuse has impacted every area of your life, both in terms of physical pain you experienced at the hands of your abuser and the emotional trauma you faced during and after the encounter. An attorney will then help you quantify the compensation you deserve for that suffering.
When you suffer sexual abuse in California, do you have to have an attorney to file a claim for compensation? You have the right to handle your abuse claim on your own. Working with an attorney, however, can offer many advantages.
Many survivors find that having an attorney on their side can increase the compensation they receive for sexual assault or abuse. Many experienced sexual abuse attorneys understand the stress associated with the expense of hiring an attorney and provide reasonable payment options for their clients. At Gomez Trial Attorneys, for example, we start with a free consultation to help you understand your legal rights and the compensation you could potentially pursue, as well as giving us a better understanding of your claim.
If you suffered sexual abuse in California, having an attorney on your side can help you seek the financial compensation you deserve for your suffering, while reducing the trauma you might experience as you attempt to hold an abuser accountable.
Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys at (619) 237-3490 to set up your free consultation and speak with our empathetic, passionate sexual abuse injury lawyers.
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