A sexual assault occurs in this country every 98 seconds with 60,000 children and more than 321,000 individuals 12 years of age and older becoming victims each year. Each sexual assault and abuse victim reacts differently to it. There could be physical injuries requiring medical attention, but it is the hidden, psychological and emotional harm that can cause the greatest damage. Survivors of sexual misconduct have the right to seek financial compensation by filing a lawsuit against their attackers or, in some instances, against third-party institutions, such as schools, sports organizations and places of employment. If you or a loved one is the victim of sexual violence, getting the compensation you need and deserve begins by becoming aware of your rights and how to enforce them.
Understanding the Nature of Sexual Violence
Sexual assault, sexual misconduct and sexual harassment are some of the terms used to describe what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines as sexual violence. Sexual violence includes any act of a sexual nature that is committed without the consent of the victim. It includes a variety of behaviors, including:
• Subjecting or attempting to subject a victim to forced vaginal, anal or oral penetration.
• Rendering a victim incapable of consenting to sexual conduct through the use of alcohol or drugs.
• Pressuring a victim without the use of physical force into consenting or submitting to sexual penetration.
• Touching and other forms of nonconsensual sexual contact.
• Engaging in unwanted behaviors without physical contact, such as making sexually suggestive comments.
The Department of Fair Employment and Housing is the California agency granted authority to enforce state civil rights laws, including regulations prohibiting sexual harassment. Sexual harassment under state law prohibits a number of types of offensive conduct, including:
• Asking for sexual favors in exchange for employment benefits.
• Taking or threatening to retaliate against someone for refusing sexual advances.
• Engaging in visual and verbal behaviors of a sexual nature, including Sexual gestures, displays of pornographic or sexually suggestive pictures, sexual slurs, sexually oriented comments about a victim and sexually abusive verbal comments.
All forms of sexual misconduct can inflict physical or emotional harm on the victim.
Types of Injuries Associated with Sexual Violence
Victims of sexual violence may suffer from a number of physical injuries, including chronic pain, sexually transmitted diseases, bruising, lacerations and internal injuries as a result of being attacked. What is not as easy to spot are the short- and long-term emotional and psychological damage suffered by victims. Short-term harm could include the following:
• Anxiety, stress, and nervousness
• Post-traumatic stress disorder as evidenced by inability to sleep, depression and emotional detachment, and flashback of the assault
Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and other psychological and emotional conditions can linger long after the sexual violence occurred. These may lead to strained social relationships with friends and loved ones. Victims could isolate themselves by avoiding social contacts. Some victims could be at risk for suicide.
Helping Victims of Sexual Violence Obtain the Care and Treatment They Require
If you are the victim of a sexual assault, you can receive compensation for the injuries and harm inflicted on you by filing a lawsuit against the offender and any third parties who might also be responsible for what was done to you. The compensation can include the following:
• Medical treatment
• Counseling services
• Lost earnings
• Diminished future earnings capacity
• Pain and suffering
There are limitations under state law on the time you have from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit for damages, so it is essential that you speak with an experienced sexual assault attorney as soon after the incident as possible.
Dedicated Lawyers Obtaining Justice for Victims
The attorneys at The Cifarelli Law Firm, LLP, devoted more than 25 years in the aggressive pursuit of justice and compensation for the victims of sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual misconduct against individuals, businesses, and organizations responsible for causing them harm. If you are a victim or the parent of a child who has been victimized, contact us now by calling (949) 502-8600 or use the form on our website to schedule a free and confidential consultation with an attorney.