Sexual Abuse FAQs

What should I do if I feel my child has been abused?

There are usually therapists on staff at children's hospitals who are knowledgeable about how to address your concerns. We assist the parents of our minor clients in finding help for their child. Likewise, we also assist our adult clients understand what to do if they have been abused. Whether the abused individual is a child or an adult, the therapists on staff at children’s hospitals are useful resources, even if they refer the abused individual to resources outside the hospital.

What is child sexual abuse?

Sexual abuse and molestation go far beyond what is normally considered sex. California takes the protection of children against acts of sexual abuse very seriously. The laws in place to protect children, prevent abuse, and punish those who commit it are powerful tools for seeking justice. These laws cover a wide range of sexual violations and inappropriate behavior, including:

  • Fondling or touching a child’s private areas
  • Making a child fondle or touch an adult’s sexual organs
  • Grooming a child for sexual contact
  • Indecent exposure in front of a minor
  • Allowing a child to be exposed to pornography or other explicit materials
  • Sexual exhibitionism in front of a child
  • Penetrating a child’s vagina or anus with any object without a valid medical purpose
  • Forcing or soliciting a child into prostitution
  • Using a child to produce pornography
What is the statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases?

Victims of sexual abuse in many states, including California, now have more time to pursue legal action against their abusers. In California, beginning in January 2020, survivors of child sexual abuse will be given a three-year window until January 2023 to file a lawsuit against the perpetrator and any affiliated entity, such as a church, Boy Scouts, or any other organization. Furthermore, the new law allows individuals to bring a civil lawsuit for damages until their 40th birthday. That is a 14-year extension compared to the previous rule.

In many cases, survivors of sexual assault do not report the crime or do not pursue any action against their abusers for a long time. It's important to know that this statute of limitations is different from the statute of limitations for criminal charges. The outcome of a criminal case does not determine a civil case's outcome. A personal injury lawsuit can be filed even if criminal charges are pending, were dismissed, or were never filed. Get in touch with us today to learn more about your options.

What is a mandatory report?

In every state, since the 1960s, certain people who have relationships with children, such as teachers, therapists, and doctors, have been required to report reasonable suspicions of child abuse to law enforcement authorities. The laws have been passed because there has historically been a lack of child abuse reporting. Several states have enacted laws that require certain professionals who have contact with children to notify police in case of suspicion of child abuse.

What do I do if I suspect a loved one was abused as a child?

If you suspect an individual you care about or someone close to you was abused as a child, and you are unsure of what you should do, ask them. It is not easy for a victim of childhood sexual abuse to discuss it. You might ask them upfront, "Did something happen to you as a child?" or "Were you ever sexually abused as a child?" If you feel they trust you, you can tell them that they can talk to you about it. You can make them feel comfortable discussing what happened with you or with a trained professional or survivor support group.

What is the difference between a criminal and civil lawsuit for sex abuse?

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What can I do if I was molested as a child but am now an adult?

You should first and foremost try to get psychological help if, as an adult, you are coming to grips with the reality of having been abused as a child. A therapist is an excellent place to start. Seek help from an experienced professional. If you are unsure where to find a therapist or counselor who can assist you, you can contact a lawyer who practices in this area and represents adults who were sexually abused as children. It is almost certain that the lawyer will know of professionals near you who can help and guide you to a therapist.

What can I do to protect my privacy in a sexual abuse or assault case?

In the event, you wish to pursue legal action as a result of childhood sexual abuse, but you are worried about privacy and don't want your name revealed in the public eye, there are privacy protections that allow you to proceed under a fictitious name, for example as John Doe or Jane Doe.

I am an adult who is only beginning to remember being sexually abused as a child; what can I do?

The first thing you need to know is that you are not alone. Later in life, it is very common for people to start reflecting on past experiences of sexual abuse. This is usually the result of something triggering a memory. Counseling can be beneficial and the first step to healing. Counselors who are knowledgeable and experienced treating people who have suffered abuse are available. They understand the delayed reactions that result from sexual abuse. Get help as soon as possible.

I was sexually abused as a child and have struggled with confusion about my sexuality ever since; where can I turn?

Your first step should be to realize that you have nothing to be ashamed of. What happened to you as a child was not under your control. A child who has been sexually abused may struggle with their sexual identity. These are valid concerns and talking to a professional would be helpful. Have this conversation with someone who understands what happens to children who are sexually abused and can help you move forward in your life.

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