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Legal Actions You Can Do As A Victim of Sexual Abuse

ByDave Stopher

Mar 13, 2020 #health

Burying our heads in the sand when it comes to sexual abuse does not work anymore because unfortunately, it’s a reality. In the past, there was no way to fight for your rights because the victims did not have enough courage to come forward, but nowadays, sexual abuse is treated seriously. If influential people like Harvey Weinstein can be prosecuted, then you have a fair chance of getting justice. If you are a victim of sexual abuse, you need to stand up for yourself. 

By understanding the following points, you can make sure that justice gets served.

Forms of Sexual Abuse

Before you choose to press charges or file a claim for compensation, you need to understand what constitutes sexual abuse to be able to fight for your rights. Sexual abuse and sex offenses have many forms, and its definition may differ from one state to another. . However, there are commonly approved standards. For instance, any sexual act that takes place between an adult and a minor is considered sexual abuse and is punishable by law. Other kinds include the following:

  • Rape
  • Attempted rape
  • Indecent exposure
  • Forceful sexual acts
  • Any touching or fondling without explicit consent
  • Sexual acts with an intoxicated person 

The Legal Action You Can Take

If you are a victim of any of the above categories, you have two ways to get justice: criminal courts and civil courts. Regardless of the route you would like to take, you must know that cases like this are time-sensitive, meaning the earlier you file a claim or report it to the authorities, the higher your chances will be of proving that the abuser is indeed guilty. Generally, there is a statute of limitations, which refers to the time you have to file a case, and it is different in every state. So, check the laws of your state first before taking any action.

However, if you were sexually abused as a child, then there is something you can do. Recently, certain exceptions were made that allowed any victim of abuse to file a case against their abuser. This means that even if you were a minor when the abuse took place, and regardless of your current age, you can still take legal action. 

Option I: Pressing Charges

If you want your abuser to face jail time and have a criminal record as a punishment for their crimes, then you can press charges. Nevertheless, you need to know that you will probably not get any monetary compensation. First, you need to act fast; report what happened to the police immediately. You can do this either by phone or in person. The police will dispatch a team to investigate the scene and find evidence. You may also be medically examined to find injuries and evidence of sexual assault. Once there is enough evidence, the state may decide to bring an action against the abuser. The downside of criminal cases is that you cannot really control what they lead to because you are only considered a witness. You cannot dictate the amount of jail time the abuser will serve or the compensation you want. You may not even get any compensation. However, if your assailant is proven guilty, it will stay in their record forever, and they may even stay in jail for a very long time.

Option II: Resorting to Civil Courts

If you have already pressed criminal charges against your abuser, but the court could not prove their guilt or you just want to be compensated, you can resort to the civil courts. Without a doubt, if a criminal court has already proven that your abuser is guilty, this can be a strong basis for compensation when standing before a civil court. Luckily, you have more control here because an attorney will represent you and demand the exact amount of compensation you want. Also, civil cases do not require hard proof like criminal ones. Once there is a 51% chance that the abuser actually caused damage, you will win the case and get your compensation. Yet, note that you will not file a claim for “sexual abuse.” If you want to take your case to civil court, you will be filing a personal injury claim for “emotional distress” or “battery.” 

Coming forward as a victim of sexual abuse is definitely hard when you are trying to heal; however, you are not in a helpless case, as you have many options. Pressing charges and filing a personal injury claim are both valid options. However, you should also abide by the statute of limitations in your state and collect as much evidence as you can to prove your abuser guilty. By doing so, you will not only get justice for yourself, but you will also protect many other potential victims.

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