Sexual abuse occurs when a person in a position of power or authority, exploits that position to involve another individual in sexual activity.
Abusers often seek out the most vulnerable in society to prey upon, including the least likely to defend themselves - children.
Sexual abuse can occur in a number of settings, including:
- Abuse in churches by priests or church leadership
- Abuse in schools by teachers, principals and other faculty
- Abuse in sports by coaches and older athletes
- Abuse in the scouts by leaders and authority figures
- Abuse in the foster care system by foster family members or foster care workers
- Abuse in daycare centers by employees and other staff
Why bring a Civil Lawsuit?
Survivors of sexual abuse can file a lawsuit against their abusers in civil court to get compensation.
We realize it takes courage to come forward and relive the abuse. It is for that reason the injury attorneys at Wilshire Law Firm make it a top priority to protect the privacy of a survivor and work aggressively to ensure they receive maximum compensation from the abuser and any entity or individual that might have enabled, allowed or ignored the abuse.
If you or someone you know has been abused, call (213) 381-9988 to speak to an attorney who can discuss your options. The call is free and your information is kept very strictly confidential.
What is Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse is an umbrella term that can refer to any type of action that causes a person to perform a sexual act that they do not want to perform. Additionally, sexual abuse can refer to a behavior that leads to an individual being unable to control their sexual activity or the circumstances under which these activities occur (examples include rape and the restriction of birth control or condoms).
When talking about sexual abuse, it is important to understand consent. If a person does not verbally say no, this does not mean that by default they said yes. Consent is also not implied through the lack of resisting the sexual advance or the lack of fighting back. Sometimes resisting or physically fighting back can put the victim in a situation of being further harmed, either by physical or sexual means.
Unfortunately, many people believe that if a person does not fight back they must have wanted the sexual act to occur. This myth is very harmful, contributes to many victims not speaking out, and can cause others to blame themselves for the attack. Sexual abuse is never the victim’s fault, no matter the circumstances, even if they were intoxicated or felt intimidated or obligated.
There are many ways a person can be sexually abused, but here are some of the most common examples:
- Rape or attempted rape
- The use of repeated sexual insults
- Unwanted touching or kissing
- Unwanted violent or rough sexual activity
- Repeatedly pressuring someone to engage in sexual acts
- Using threats as a way to coerce someone into sexual activity
- Sexual activity with someone who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Sexual activity with someone who is unconscious or unable to consent (in a clear and informed matter) for any reason
- Restricting someone’s access to birth control or refusing to use a condom
- Preventing someone from protecting themselves from sexually transmitted diseases
Everyone – male or female – has the right to decide what he or she wants to do sexually, at any point during sexual activity. Even if a person initially consents, they have the right to change their mind whenever they feel the need.
Not all sexual assaults are violent, and not all are done by strangers – sexual assault can even occur in a marital relationship. In fact, contrary to popular belief, most victims of sexual abuse know their assailant. Also against popular belief, sexual abuse is not only performed by men – woman can also be abusers. It does not matter what a person said, or how often a person has consented in the past, the only consent that matters is the one occurring in the moment. Sexual activity should always be enjoyed by and wanted by all people involved.
If you have been sexually abused, there are many things you can do. First and foremost, get away from your attacker and to a safe place. Second, always remember that the abuse was not your fault – you did not ask for it, you did not deserve it, and you did not behave in a way that made it happen. Next, there are several options:
- Tell someone you trust – there are many emotions that people feel after being sexually abused. Having a support system in place can help you work through these emotions and begin a path to recovery. Outside of a trusted friend or family member, you can also contact a counselor, support group, or sexual assault hotline.
- You might also consider calling the police – if you decide to make a report, you should not alter evidence in any way, and this includes destroying it. You should not take a shower, wash your hair or body, change your clothes, brush your hair, or anything else that could remove evidence. This is hard for many people to do, but it is necessary. Many people are nervous about going to the police station, and if so, you might feel better bringing a friend along. If you do not have a support person, many cities have sexual assault advocates that can accompany and guide you through the process.
- Even if you do not decide to go to the police, you should still go the emergency room. You should seek medical care as soon as possible in order to treat injuries and look at options for preventing possible pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.
The attorneys at Wilshire Law Firm assist sexual abuse victims in securing financial compensation from their abusers while ensuring the absolute confidentiality of all personal information. If possible, we will avoid litigation in favor of a pre-trial settlement so that victims are not required to relive their pain by testifying in court. Experts in the complexities of proving sexual abuse and substantiating damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other injuries, our attorneys enable victims to pay for the medical treatment and counseling necessary for long term recovery so that they may, someday, resume their normal lives.