How to Report Sexual Abuse
Far too often, sexual abuse goes unreported. In the criminal justice system, only 25 out of 1000 perpetrators face jail time. By learning how to identify and report sexual abuse, you can help ensure that more perpetrators are brought to justice.

Sexual Abuse Warning Signs

It is common for vulnerable individuals who cannot always communicate that they are being abused to suffer sexual abuse. Children, the elderly, and those with disabilities are often affected.

It’s important to know how to identify sexual abuse without the victim letting you know about it because there may be a communication barrier.

Here are some of the warning signs of sexual abuse:

  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Signs of trauma to the genital area
  • Feeling uncomfortable being left alone with some people
  • Being unwilling to remove clothes to bathe or dress
  • Regressive behaviors, anxiety, depression, or withdrawal

Reporting Sexual Abuse

The law requires certain individuals to report sexual abuse when they suspect or witness it. These individuals include:

  • Social workers
  • School personnel, including teachers and principals
  • Nurses, physicians, and other healthcare workers
  • Mental health professionals such as counselors, therapists, and psychologists
  • Child care providers
  • Coroners or medical examiners
  • Law enforcement officers

Each state has its own process for reporting sexual abuse.

Making a claim for sexual abuse in California

In California, the individuals above must report abuse to a police department, sheriff’s department, county probation department, or county welfare department.

The statute of limitations was recently extended to give survivors more time to file a civil sexual abuse claim. New time limits are as follows:

  • Survivors of childhood sexual abuse must file a lawsuit by age 40 or within five years of discovering the abuse as an adult.
  • Beginning in January 2020, survivors in California will have a three-year window to file sexual abuse claims that have already passed the statute of limitations.
  • An attempted or successful cover-up of sexual abuse can result in triple damages.

Survivors may be able to recover compensation for the following damages through a civil lawsuit and an experienced lawyer can help:

  • Pain and suffering, both emotional and physical
  • Expenses related to the treatment of physical injuries
  • Psychotherapy and counseling for abuse-related conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression
  • Wages lost by survivors who are incapable of finding or maintaining meaningful employment due to abuse

Criminal vs. Civil Sex Abuse Cases

Prosecution of a Case

There are two types of cases: civil and criminal. In a criminal case, after the police have conducted an investigation, the District Attorney is responsible for prosecuting crimes. In a civil lawsuit, the victim and the victim’s lawyer can sue the perpetrator as well as any other parties liable for the harm.

In addition, civil and criminal cases differ in the following ways:

  • Disputes between private parties are referred to as civil lawsuits. Their main objective is to recover compensation for damages suffered by the victim and/or to protect the victim from future harm. For example, victims of sexual abuse should not have to shoulder the burden of paying for past or future medical expenses or therapy.
  • In criminal cases, the wrongdoing has been determined to cause harm to society as a whole. As a result of a conviction, the defendant could receive a prison sentence.

Is there a time limit for filing a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse?

Following the #MeToo movement and widespread calls for sexual abuse reform, California has enacted new legislation that gives victims more time to file a civil sexual abuse claim. We are here to discuss your legal options.

Under the law, sexual abuse survivors have to bring their claim in court within a certain time. This is known as the statute of limitations. California’s statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims is as follows:

  • Survivors of childhood sexual abuse must file a lawsuit by the age of 40, or within five years after discovering the abuse as an adult.
  • Beginning in January 2020, survivors in California will have a three-year window to file sexual abuse claims that have previously passed the statute of limitations.
  • In cases where sexual abuse happened along with an attempt or successful cover-up, judges have the authority to triple damage awards.

Recovering Damages for Sex Abuse

As a result, these survivors can expect to pay many thousands of dollars in rehabilitative treatment to sort through their trauma.

These individuals should not bear the burden of the damages they suffered because of a sexual abuser. Nor should they go uncompensated for the non-monetary losses that are often the consequence of abuse, such as anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating, sexual dysfunction, and social isolation.

In the following section, our California trial attorneys discuss the damages sexual abuse survivors may be able to recover from any and all liable parties.

Who Are the People that Sexually Abuse Children?

Sexual Violence Statistics

A survey conducted by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) indicates that 8 out of 10 incidents of sexual violence occur when the victim knows the perpetrator. In addition, statistics reveal that:

  • 39% of sexual violence is committed by someone the victim knows.
  • 33% of sexual violence is committed by a former intimate partner (former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend).
  • 19.5% of sexual violence is committed by a stranger.
  • 6% of sexual violence is committed by more than one person, or the survivor cannot remember.
  • 2.5% of sexual violence is committed by a non-spouse relative.

Evidence suggests that the numbers above, while alarming enough, are likely even higher given that many sexual abuse and sexual assault cases are underreported. Read on to learn why.

Why Don’t Survivors Always Speak Out?

The same report by RAINN indicates that only 310 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to the police. Two out of every three cases of sexual assault are never reported. Below are some reasons why survivors are often reluctant to speak about their sexual assault.

  • Fear of not being believed
  • Fear of being shunned
  • Fear of being blamed for the abuse
  • Fear of retaliation
  • Self-blame
  • Feelings of shame and embarrassment

How Sexual Assault Survivors Can Get Help

Reporting abuse and speaking out against an abuser is not easy. It can take an emotional toll on the survivor and trigger memories that nobody would want to relive. It is common for survivors to face a lifetime of psychological difficulties, including:

Survivors may also experience the following harmful behaviors as a result of the abuse:

  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Self-harm
  • Eating disorders
  • Sleep disorders
  • Thoughts of suicide and suicide attempts

Despite the difficulty, many survivors find that reporting abuse and holding their perpetrators accountable can be healing. Speaking out can give survivors a sense of empowerment, help protect others and pave the way for other survivors to speak out as well.

Reclaiming Your Life After Sexual Assault

The impact sexual abuse has on a survivor’s life can be devastating. Survivors of sexual assault are often faced with a lifetime of emotional and psychological challenges and are often unsure where to get help. Our team understands that it may be extremely challenging to share the secret of the sexual assault you endured and that speaking out against your perpetrator may trigger unwanted feelings.

The team of attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Yablonovich are here to support you and can direct you to resources to get the help you need. Give us a call today at (888) 306-4228 to start the process of moving forward with your life.

10 incidents of sexual violence occur when the victim knows the perpetrator. In addition, statistics reveal that:

  • 39% of sexual violence is committed by someone the victim knows.
  • 33% of sexual violence is committed by a former intimate partner (former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend).
  • 19.5% of sexual violence is committed by a stranger.
  • 6% of sexual violence is committed by more than one person, or the survivor cannot remember.
  • 2.5% of sexual violence is committed by a non-spouse relative.

Evidence suggests that the numbers above, while alarming enough, are likely even higher given that many sexual abuse and sexual assault cases are underreported. Read on to learn why.

Have you been sexually abused? We’re here to help you

The Law Offices of Mark Yablonovich is dedicated to ensuring that sexual predators are brought to justice. We are here to discuss your legal options.

Under the law, sexual abuse survivors have to bring their claims in court within a certain time. This is known as the statute of limitations. As a result of California’s recent extension of the statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases, survivors have more time to come forward and hold perpetrators accountable. However, it is still important that you act to preserve your rights as soon as possible.

Get in touch with our team today by calling (888) 306-4228 for a free, confidential consultation.

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