Sexual abuse is extremely common in today’s society. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), someone suffers sexual assault every 68 seconds. RAINN also estimates that one out of every six women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. However, sexual abuse doesn’t affect only women; roughly ten percent of all rape victims are male. The criminal justice system does its best to identify and punish those who commit sexual assault. However, sadly, many perpetrators are able to avoid the effects of a criminal conviction.
Even when the government brings a criminal case against a perpetrator, the judge overseeing the trial does not have the ability to award damages to the survivor. However, survivors can pursue a civil sexual abuse lawsuit against the responsible party. At the Hartley Law Firm, our Dallas sexual abuse lawyer has extensive experience helping survivors pursue meaningful compensation for what they’ve been through. We understand what you are going through as a sexual assault victim, and do everything we can to make the process as easy on you and your family as possible. Contact us today!
Type of Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse occurs throughout all parts of society. While some acts of sexual violence are carried out by complete strangers, about 80% of the time, the victim knows the perpetrator.
Below are some of the most common types of sexual abuse:
- Nursing home sexual abuse;
- Child sexual abuse;
- Date rape;
- Assaults committed by acquaintances;
- Assaults committed by medical professionals;
- Assaults by family members; and
- Workplace sexual violence.
Regardless of the relationship between a perpetrator and a survivor, victims of sexual assault deserve compensation for what they have been put through.
Common Injuries Following Sexual Assault
More so than other types of assaults, sexual abuse often results in severe physical and emotional trauma. Some of the most common injuries sexual abuse victims experience include:
- Difficulty getting and maintaining a job,
- Loss of faith,
- Loss of trust in authority figures,
- Panic attacks,
- Poor academic and job performance,
- Post-traumatic stress disorder,
- Sexual dysfunction,
- Substance abuse,
- Suicidal thoughts and attempts, and
- Trust and intimacy issues.
These injuries can—and often do—have a long-term effect on a survivor’s life. Successfully pursuing a sexual assault lawsuit is not a windfall for survivors; it merely compensates them for the tremendous impact that the event had on their life.
The Difference Between Civil and Criminal Sexual Assault Cases
When someone reports sexual abuse, law enforcement will almost always conduct an investigation. Often, law enforcement will refer the case to local prosecutors at the end of the investigation, which may result in criminal charges against the perpetrator. If convicted, the perpetrator will likely face jail time. However, because the purpose of a criminal case is to punish a defendant and not to compensate a victim, judges lack the ability to award meaningful compensation to survivors.
However, those who survived sexual violence can also bring a civil lawsuit against a perpetrator. While there are many differences between civil and criminal cases, perhaps the most important involves the necessary burden of proof. In criminal cases, the prosecution must establish the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, in civil cases, a plaintiff need only prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence. This is a much lower legal standard. Thus, even if a perpetrator was acquitted in a criminal trial, they could still be liable in a civil sexual assault lawsuit.
Workplace Sexual Abuse
You may not always want to get up and head to the office, but no one should ever have to feel threatened or dread going to their place of employment for fear of workplace sexual abuse. In 2021, there were 5,581 workplace sexual harassment charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which accounted for 27.7% of all harassment cases filed that year. Sexual harassment is generally defined as unwelcome sexual advances and can be verbal or nonverbal. Workplace sexual abuse occurs when the behavior occurs at work, affects an individual’s employment, interferes with their work performance, or creates a work environment that is intimidating, hostile, or offensive.
Many victims of workplace sexual harassment suffer through it day after day because they do not want to lose their jobs and are afraid that they will not be believed or that stepping forward will limit future employment opportunities. It is important to understand that you have rights, including the right to compensation for what you have endured.
Remedies for Workplace Sexual Abuse
If you have experienced workplace sexual harassment, your attorney can help you determine who is liable for the abuse you have endured. The actual abuser will always be liable, but if management knew or should have known that you were experiencing workplace sexual abuse, the company may also be responsible. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal for employers to allow anyone to be sexually harassed at work by anyone else, regardless of sex, gender, or sexual orientation. Your sexual abuse attorney can help you determine the best legal strategy for your specific circumstances. Unfortunately, there is no amount of monetary compensation that can undo the abuse you have suffered. Financial remedies to workplace sexual abuse and other forms of sexual abuse are the best solutions the civil court can offer.
Those who successfully bring a sexual abuse lawsuit can recover economic and non-economic damages. While damages awards are highly case-specific, they often include compensation for the following:
- Past and future medical expenses,
- Lost wages due to an inability to work,
- Pain and suffering,
- Mental anguish, and
- Emotional distress.
At the Hartley Law Firm, our Dallas sexual abuse attorneys painstakingly review all the evidence to identify the full extent of our clients’ damages. That way, they know exactly what to expect throughout the process and what a fair settlement offer looks like. In the event the perpetrator is unwilling to resolve the case out of court, we will not hesitate to take your case to trial.
Sexual Abuse in Vulnerable Populations
Sexual abuse can happen to absolutely anyone, but there are some populations that are more vulnerable than others. These generally include children, the elderly, incarcerated or detained individuals, those with intellectual disabilities, and even some ethnic populations. Here are some statistics about the prevalence of sexual abuse for these vulnerable populations.
Child Sexual Abuse
One in 9 girls and 1 in 20 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault. Children are a vulnerable population because they may be easily overpowered and unaware of what is happening. It is important to remember that no one under the age of 18 can legally consent to a sexual act.
Elder Sexual Abuse
Only 30% of victims of elder sexual abuse make a report to authorities, and 81% of the time, the abuser is the primary caregiver. Older adults may be targeted because their abusers believe they are less likely to be found out, especially if the person is isolated from their family or easily confused.
Immigration Detention Facility Sexual Abuse
Individuals in U.S. immigration detention facilities raised over 33,000 complaints of sexual assault or physical abuse between 2010 and 2016. These were all made against the Department of Homeland Security.
Prison Sexual Abuse
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2018, there were 27,826 allegations of sexual victimization in adult correctional facilities. Of the 1,673 incidents that have been substantiated, approximately 58% were perpetrated by other inmates and 42% were perpetrated by staff.
Sexual Abuse of Persons with Disabilities
The National Crime Victimization Survey combined with data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey determined that between 2011 and 2015, the rate of violent victimization against people with disabilities was at least 2.5 times the unadjusted rate for those without disabilities.
Speak with a Dallas Sexual Assault Lawyer Confidentially About Your Case Today
If you or a loved one suffered a sexual assault, you are not alone. While bringing a sexual assault lawsuit may not be at the front of your mind, it is important you at least speak with a Dallas sexual assault attorney about the possibility of bringing a case. At the Hartley Law Firm, our compassionate Dallas sexual abuse attorney will sit down with you in a confidential setting to discuss your case. We will answer your questions and offer our sincere advice about your various options. We have significant experience, both at the negotiation table and litigating cases in the courtroom.
If you decide to bring a case against your perpetrator, we will not collect any legal fees unless we can recover compensation on your behalf. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, you can connect with us through our online contact form.
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