Sexual abuse is a very serious situation and can result in physical, emotional and mental trauma that can haunt the victims for the rest of their lives. When the victim of sexual abuse is a minor, it is that much more heartbreaking. Although feeling anger toward the abuser is a very common emotion, it is best to leave judgment and punishment to the proper authorities. If you know a minor who has been sexually abused, seek justice by contacting a lawyer to help you file a civil lawsuit.
WHAT CONSTITUTES SEXUAL ABUSE?
Sexual abuse is legally defined by each state individually. However, usually sexual abuse of a child means a child is touched sexually by an adult. This includes molestation, prostitution, rape or exposure to or involvement in pornography. Some states have further laws about what constitutes sexual abuse of a child. These additional laws include that a child does not have to be touched sexually, but they merely have to witness someone else acting in a sexual manner for it to be considered sexual abuse. In this case, masturbation and sexual intercourse viewed by a child would be considered child sexual abuse.
DO YOU HAVE A GOOD LEGAL CASE?
A criminal conviction will lead to the abuser finding justice according to the law. However, you can file a civil lawsuit to sue the abuser and get money for pain and suffering caused by the abuse. In order to have a good case, you need substantial evidence of the abuse. It is crucial for you to protect the evidence. Seek medical help immediately following the abuse, if possible. Photographs of injuries, doctors’ notes and testimony can help validate a case. It makes sense to sue the abuser only if he or she has money to sue for. Another important factor is when the abuse occurred. Each state has its own statute of limitations, which allows you to file a lawsuit only within a certain period after the abuse happened.
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT FROM A TRIAL?
Many cases reach a settlement before even going to trial. However, if a case does go to trial, there are some things you can expect. All evidence will be presented and scrutinized. Experts will give their opinions and testimonies relating to the crime, the evidence and the effects of the sexual abuse on both the victim and the abuser. Additionally, usually the child’s testimony will be vital to the case. Because testifying in front of the abuser as well as a courtroom full of people, the child’s pre-recorded statement is usually admissible in court. Ultimately, the judge will decide whether a recorded testimony from the child is acceptable. The judge generally takes into account the type of sexual abuse which occurred before making this decision.
WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO TO HELP THE CHILD?
Sexual abuse can have devastating effect on a child. Therefore, it is crucial for the child to get the professional physical, psychological and behavioral help they need. The child needs to understand that he or she did not deserve to be abused. By getting the child the needed help and being willing to listen, you can help the child not be consumed by the abuse and instead get back to being a child. Additionally, it is important for you to help the child feel safe and to protect the child from further abuse.
Learning that a child has been the victim of sexual abuse is unnerving and infuriating. However, a civil lawsuit can provide money which will help pay bills related to medical and psychological treatment the child needs due to the abuse. By following the above recommendations, you can help the child rebuild his or her life.