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Practice Definitions  | Sexual Abuse

Sexual Abuse

Sexual Abuse is any act by which the perpetrator uses sexual contact in an impermissible way. Sexual abuse can occur against both adults and children.

Examples of Sexual Abuse:

  • Statutory rape (sex with an underage minor)
  • Molestation
  • Incest (sex with a relative)
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Rape, including date rape and elder rape
  • Unwanted sexual touching
When Must You Bring a Lawsuit for Sexual Abuse?

Time is of the essence. Each state has a "statute of limitations," which is the time limit when you are permitted to bring a lawsuit. If you delay past this time period, you will be prohibited from bringing a lawsuit for sexual abuse. Consult with a local lawyer to learn more about the time limits for bringing a sexual abuse lawsuit in your area.

Criminal versus Civil Court

Criminal Sexual Abuse: a person is prosecuted by the district attorney's office for committing sexual abuse against a victim. If you are facing criminal charges, you are in criminal court and need a criminal defense lawyer.

Civil Sexual Abuse: involves the victim suing the person who committed the sexual abuse against them to recover damages for their injuries. If you want to sue someone for your sexual abuse injuries, or are being sued by the victim for money, you are in civil court and need an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Recovering Damages as a Victim of Sexual Abuse

Victims of sexual abuse often have a difficult time recovering for their losses. Most sexual abuse incidents involve individual abusers who do not have insurance or sufficient assets to pay for the victim's injuries. There are exemptions, such as when the abuser was a member of an organization (e.g. a church), or a person with a duty to report the abuse but failed to do so (e.g. a doctor).

If the person who committed the sexual abuse against you does have the ability to pay if you win a lawsuit against them, you may be able to recover for your damages, including:
  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
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