Sexual Assault and Abuse

SEXUAL ASSAULT AND ABUSE

Sexual assaults can come in many different forms. Some incidences may overlap with the victim experiencing multiple types of assault at the same time, while others may experience an isolated, singular event. 

The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) defines any sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the survivor as a crime.
 
In California, victims of sexual assault are able to pursue justice through a civil case as well as a criminal case. Civil claims involving sexual violence are about much more than monetary compensation.  They are often the only way for victims to hold the perpetrator accountable, achieve some measure of closure and help prevent similar things from happening to someone else.

SEXUAL ASSAULT

Sexual assault is a type of sexual violence that affects thousands of men, women and children each year. Considering the vast number of unreported instances, the actual figures are staggering.

Under California Law, sexual assault typically refers to any sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the victims’ consent. This includes instances when a victim is physically unable to consent, in cases of intoxication, unconsciousness, or physical disability for example.

Sexual Assault includes:

  • Rape and attempted rape
  • Forced sexual acts of any nature
  • Grouping and unwanted touching
  • Any unwanted penetration of the
  • victim
  • Sexual abuse
  • Sexual exploitation

Sex crimes are punishable under both California and federal law. Sexual assault crimes may fall under misdemeanor or felony classifications depending on several factors, the age of the victim being the most pertinent.  In California, there is no longer a statute of limitations in criminal cases.

In addition to criminal cases, sexual assault victims are able to pursue justice and compensation through a civil claim. In California, anyone who has been a victim of sexual violence or assault may file a civil claim for damages, even in the absence of a criminal conviction or a police report. In certain cases, the families of victims may be eligible to file.

Victims may be eligible for compensation for:

  • Medical expenses. The victim can sue for the cost of necessary medical treatment resulting from the sexual assault. This may also apply to the cost of necessary ongoing psychological counseling or other forms of treatment.
  • Lost income. If a sexual assault incident prevents a victim from working for an extended time or caused the victim to leave a job, the victim can sue for the wages lost as a result.
  • Pain and suffering. California law recognizes the experience of sexual assault is traumatic and often leads to long-term psychological difficulties. The law allows victims to sue for their mental anguish, physical pain, and emotional distress.
  • Punitive damages. The court will often dictate punitive damages for offenders who engage in intentionally harmful or egregiously negligent behaviors to dissuade similar behaviors in the future. The amount of punitive damages recoverable typically depends on the offender’s financial state.
SEXUAL ABUSE

Sexual abuse is undeniably an inexcusable act. It bears consequences that never really end and leaves behind wounds that may never fully heal. The physical, psychological, and emotional effects of these horrible acts can permanently change a victim’s personality, and most survivors lose their ability to feel secure, comfortable, and happy in their everyday lives. Sadly, many sexual abuse victims don’t feel safe enough to take legal action against the perpetrator.

It’s crucial to know how to spot signs of sexual abuse, particularly among loved ones. A sudden change in behavior or inexplicable injuries and medical symptoms could indicate the individual has experienced some type of sexual assault but does not feel comfortable speaking up about it. It’s very common for sexual abusers to use intimidation or threats to prevent their victims from speaking out, and this can create a prison of fear for victims.

Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse:

  • Individuals who intend to commit sexual assault typically try to lull their victim into a false sense of security before making a move, or they may use flattery and attention to get the victim to lower his or her guard.
  • Some offenders use alcohol or other substances to reduce resistance from their victims. An individual who appears focused on getting another person intoxicated may intend to do harm.
  • Offenders will often attempt to isolate their victims, both for spontaneous attacks and as part of long-term abusive relationships. For example, a sexual assaulter may try to lure a victim away from a party or social gathering to commit a sexually abusive act, or an abuser may systematically remove his or her victim’s support system over time.
  • Offenders often rely on manipulation and confusion to shift responsibility onto the victim after a sexual assault. This typically involves compelling the victim to believe it was a consensual act.

Victims may wonder what to do after experiencing a sexual assault, and one of the most important things one can do in this situation is to report it immediately. Some victims may feel scared to speak up about their experiences out of fear of retaliation, while others may simply believe they can forget about the incident and move on. These are dangerous lines of thinking, and although it may be extremely difficult for a victim to speak up about a sexual crime, doing so will increase the chances of the offender facing prosecution and conviction.

Additionally, speaking up about sexual assault to the authorities as soon as it happens reduces the chances of the offender victimizing others in the future.
Time is also a critical factor when it comes to preserving evidence. Biological evidence gathering from the victim’s body, clothing, and personal belongings as well as from the scene of the incident can hasten an investigation and help bring the offender to justice. Victims of sexual assault should seek assistance from the police as soon as possible to start an investigation with the best chances of success.

Types of Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is common and can span age, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. It affects people of all education levels and socioeconomic backgrounds.
The state of California doesn’t have one specific sexual abuse designation. However, generally, sexual abuse refers to any act of unsolicited sexual contact without an individual’s consent and may include the use of force, coercion, or threats. It refers to several crimes, including:

  • Child Molestation
  • Rape
  • Incest
  • Non-contact sexual abuse
  • Non-consensual sexual contact

Examples of Sexual Abuse:

When a person in a position of authority such as a doctor, coach, teacher, or employer abuses that authority to commit sexual assault, he or she faces professional penalties such as loss of license to practice or restriction from future employment in a specific field along with the criminal penalties from the state and civil actions from victims.

  • EMPLOYER: An employer who offers an employee preferential treatment in exchange for sexual favors or who routinely pressures a subordinate employee into sexual situations.
  • TEACHER: An educator who “grooms” or otherwise coerces students into sexual situations.
  • FAMILY MEMBER: Parents or guardians who take advantage of their own children. It’s common for victims in such circumstances to rationalize their situations, further enabling the abuse to continue long-term.
  • COACH: A coach who sexually abuses the athletes in his or her care under the guise of a medical examination.
  • DOCTOR: A doctor who sexually abuses patients under the guise of medical treatment.
  • PRIEST OR PASTOR: A priest or pastor can lure a young child into believing the acts are justified based upon religion.

Situations such as these are particularly dangerous and heinous, because they regularly involve intimidation, threats, and other exploitative behaviors that can lead to long-lasting physical, psychological, and emotional damage. In addition, the institution may be liable if negligence led to the action.

Associated Entities of Sexual Abuse

Sexual assaults and abuse can occur anywhere. However, some organizations have greater access to individuals and hold positions of trust. Entities may be sued for sexual abuse stemming from a crime committed by their employees or affiliates. Some of the most common organizations associated with sex abuse cases include:

  • Religious organizations
  • Schools and daycare centers
  • Sports organizations or gyms
  • Real estate management
  • Businesses and large corporations
  • Colleges and universities
  • Healthcare facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Recreational Facilities
  • Residential Care Facilities
  • TV, music, and film production companies

Anyone who has been sexually abused can sue for damages. Families of victims may sue as well if they witnessed the abuse, the assault of abuse resulted in the victim’s death, or the abuse resulted in the loss of companionship and/or loss of consortium. In California, a sexual abuse case can be criminal or civil, or both. However, the law does not require a criminal conviction for the victim to sue for damages. As such, you don’t need to file criminal charges first in order to file a civil lawsuit.

Sexual assaults, abuse and rape can turn your life upside down and make it a nightmare. Bringing your abuser (and those who were party to directly or indirectly) to be held accountable can help you get your life going in the right direction again. If you or someone close to you has suffered sexual abuse at the hands of another person, the Law Offices of John Christl want you to know that you are not alone.

Our office is located in Newport Beach, California. We serve Orange County, Los Angeles County, San Diego County, Riverside County, Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, and San Bernardino County.

Your Identity is Protected!

If you have been the victim of sexual assault or abuse and are concerned that your identity in connection to the crime will be made public, it is very important you to know that you have rights.

If you are a minor, your true identity will not be disclosed or discussed in court or settlement documents. You will be referred to as “John Doe” or “Jane Doe” or a similar name. If you are an adult, you can also proceed in a lawsuit under a pseudonym.

Rest assured that The Law Offices of John Christl will protect your confidentiality, your security, and your safety, by representing you in any legal proceedings.

Our office is located in Newport Beach, California. We serve Orange County, Los Angeles County, San Diego County, Riverside County, Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, and San Bernardino County.

Get in touch with a Criminal Defense & Personal Injury Attorney Today!

24 Hour Hotline: 949-244-4243

Office: 949-265-7055

Based in Newport Beach, CA and proudly serving Orange County, Riverside County, San Diego County, and Los Angeles County.