Every 73 seconds, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. Each day, there are an estimated 160 sexual assaults on children in this country. One out three women will be victimized during their lifetime. And the rate for men isn’t much better. Although the assault may only last for minutes, the scars can last forever.
Effects of Sexual Assault
Sexual abuse and sexual assaults take a devastating toll on the victim. In most cases the physical injuries and bruising heals but the psychological and emotional effects on the victim can last forever. Depression, PTSD, low self-esteem, drug dependency and even suicide. Sexual assault victims frequently incur costs for medical treatment and therapy. Lost wages or reduced earning capacity are common.
What Is Sexual Assault?
There are many types of sexual assault. In most jurisdictions, the definition of sexual assault involves any unwanted sexual contact. While rape is just one form of sexual assault, any unwanted touching or fondling – even through clothes – is illegal and considered sexual assault.
When a person is sexually abused in single event, forceful manner, it is usually calledsexual assault, whereassexual abusehappens over a long period of time.
Whether considered sexual assault or sexual abuse, showing children explicit or pornographic images, taking inappropriate photos of children, or revealing oneself to a child is illegal as well.
In every state, these cases can be prosecuted both criminally and civilly. The police and district attorneys prosecute cases criminally*. The criminal courts can put the offender in prison, require the offender receive counseling and sometimes order restitution (which is typically quite limited).
*We are often asked “What if my abuser was found not guilty in a criminal trial”? Even if the person who abused you was found not guilty or never prosecuted, you can still file a civil lawsuit for damages. In a criminal prosecution, prosecutors must prove the allegations against a defendant beyond a reasonable doubt–the highest burden of proof in all of our legal system. Often in a sexual assault cases where there is no physical evidence or witnesses, meeting such a burden of proof isn’t possible. But in a civil lawsuit for damages, the plaintiff (victim) must simply prove her case by a preponderance of the evidence. In layman’s terms, it means convincing a jury that you have the more credible story. Even if your abuser doesn’t go to jail you can still recover damages from them or others who are responsible in a civil lawsuit.
(Remember O.J. Simpson? He was acquitted of the murder charge but a civil jury found he committed the crime and ordered him to pay $33.5 million.)
A sexual assault lawyer that specializes in representing victims can help you or a loved one receive financial compensation not only for out-of-pocket expenses but also for pain and suffering, lost wages / diminished earnings and future expenses. In many jurisdictions punitive damages are also available.
Where Does Sexual Assault and Abuse Happen?
The answer is anywhere.
Sexual assault can happen to anyone, anytime and anywhere. Some of the more common scenarios include:
- Schools and school activities (this includes assaults by teachers, bus drivers, coaches, volunteers and other students)
- Doctor offices
- Nursing homes
- Jails and juvenile detention facilities
- Mental health facilities
- Foster homes
- After school program
- Tutoring facilities
- Relative or neighbor's house
- Public transportation / Uber / Lyft
- Your own home (landlords can be held responsible for negligent security)
- On a date
Damages in Sexual Assault Cases
Calculating damages in a sexual assault cases is difficult. Typically the out-of-pocket medical bills (if any) are quite low. Counseling can get expensive, however, particularly if required long-term.
For lawyers that don’t understand these cases, that’s where damages end. Ask any victim, however, and most will tell you their damages are far greater than an emergency room bill.
A June 2017 article published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reported that the Centers for Disease Control found the lifetime economic burden of a single rape to reach more than $122,000. If the victim quits college or can’t keep his job, however, the cost of a just a single assault can skyrocket into the millions.
Victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault usually suffer severe psychological and emotional trauma. This is especially true if the case involves children or the elderly, or an assault by a family member.
Disrupted sleep, PTSD, nightmares, depression, poor performance at school, the inability to hold down a job or a relationship, anger, drug and alcohol addiction, the list goes on. Unfortunately, the justice system is ill-equipped to handle these cases.
How do you value a case where the victim can only sleep for a few hours a night? How do you value a case where a person is afraid to leave their home? Many personal injury lawyers take sexual abuse victim cases but are ill-equipped to maximize the compensation for their clients. There is no formula. That is why having a good lawyer is essential to making sure the jury understands your story and maximizes your recovery.
Getting a fair settlement or jury award in one of these cases also means finding the right experts. Experts that can explain the losses suffered by sexual assault victims in a way that juries can understand.
Another problem in these cases is collectability. If a person is randomly attacked in the woods by a drifter, getting compensation is nearly impossible. Those type cases rarely occur, however.
Even if the offender is never caught, the right lawyer may be able to hold a third party responsible if they facilitated the attack. For example, it may be able to hold an apartment complex responsible if there is a history of crimes in the complex yet the landlord didn’t hire security or install window guards. The local school district may be liable if they fail to screen volunteers who staff afterschool programs or fail to provide a safe environment for kids to learn.
In fact, finding a deep pocket in most of these cases is critical. Think about, the person committing the assault or abuse probably has little in the way of assets. Unless the offender is a doctor, suing someone who is headed to prison or the unemployment line won’t net much.
The key to success is often taking legal action against anyone who enabled the sexual abuse. That means the nursing home itself, the apartment complex, school district, church or Uber.
Representing sexual abuse victims means understanding the nature of a victim’s injuries and thinking outside the box to make sure that the victim gets paid.
How Much Time Do I Have to Sue for Sexual Assault?
Depending where the assault occurred and how old you were when assaulted, you might have as little as one year or as long as forever to file a civil suit for sexual assault. Generally, in most states you have two or three years if you were an adult and often much longer if you were a minor when the assault occurred.
We published a chart showing the sexual assault statute of limitations but with two caveats. First, as a result of the #MeToo movement, states are constantly tinkering with the statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases. Second, there are exceptions and rules can be quite complex. For example, not all states define “minor” in the same way and other states may extend the statute of limitations if the offender is in jail or the victim is in treatment.
Our advice? Don’t rely on a chart.
Contact us directly for a no obligation, no pressure confidential consultation. Contact attorney Brian Mahany online, by email at [hidden email] or by phone at 877.858.8018.
Representing Victims in Sexual Assault Cases
Google the term “sexual assault lawyer” and it becomes obvious that most lawyers represent the people committing these heinous crimes. Few lawyers represent the victims. Few know how.
If you are injured in a car wreck, in most instances the injuries are obvious. You can see broken bones or bulging discs on an X-ray. For many lawyers, its hard to visualize the harm caused by sexual assault or understand that the wounds from these crimes can take years to heal.
Sexual assault cases are very sensitive, especially when children or the elderly are involved. These cases can include sexual abuse by a priest, clergy member, teacher, school bus driver, coach, physician or a family member. Sexual assaults also can involve elderly victims abused in nursing homes.
Sexual assault and sexual abuse cases require an experienced lawyer to fight for the victim’s rights. Our team and network of lawyers represents victims in all types of sexual assault, including aggravated sexual assault, rape, sodomy, criminal sexual contact, molestation, and child enticement.
We will walk you through every step of the process.
*Attorney Brian Mahany began his career as a police officer and then as a prosecutor putting away those pedophiles, sexual predators and those that prey on the vulnerable including kids and the elderly.
In addition to his work in the justice system, Brian was also a Brian Mahany a board member of the Family Violence Project and a volunteer with the Sexual Assault Crisis and Assault Center. To get the maximum compensation for your injuries, you need lawyers who are both aggressive and who understand the unique concerns of sexual abuse victims.
Have You or a Loved One Been a Victim of Sexual Abuse?
To learn more and to see if you have a case, contact us directly for a no obligation, no pressure confidential consultation. Contact attorney Brian Mahany online, by email at [hidden email] or by phone at 877.858.8018.
Some Sobering Sexual Abuse Statistics
RAINN is the acronym for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. It is the largest anti-sexual violence organization in America and an authority on the topic. According to its research, victims of sexual abuse are:
- 3 times more likely to suffer from depression
- 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide
- 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol
- 26 times more likely to abuse drugs
- If the victims are children at the time of the assault, those probabilities are even worse.
On the topic of childhood sexual abuse:
- 34% of sex abuse victims are under the age of 12,
- 66% of victims are between 12 and18, and
- 93% of children sexually abused know their attacker.