Sexual abuse, as a term, encompasses any form of unwanted sexual contact, behavior, or violence against another person, particularly a child. Whether it occurs at the hands of a family member, friend, teacher, clergy member, or stranger, a survivor can be left with devastating and lasting psychological scars. The attorneys at Breit Cantor are committed advocates to these survivors. We understand that justice through civil litigation can be a critical step in a client’s healing process, which is why we give our all to hold sexual abusers legally accountable for their actions. If you or a loved one is a sexual abuse or sexual assault survivor, contact our compassionate and trial-tested legal team for a free and confidential consultation.
Contact Breit Cantor at (888) 635-9500 to discuss your legal options in a safe, reassuring, and confidential setting.
What Is Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse, which is also commonly referred to as molestation or assault, can be defined as undesired sexual behavior or contact by one person upon another. Alarmingly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 17% of boys and 25% of girls are sexually abused before the age of 18.
However, sexual abuse isn’t limited to acts of unwanted physical contact. It can take many forms, including:
- Exposing children to explicit images, sexually-charged language, and/or pornography.
- Asking a minor to send or take inappropriate pictures of themselves.
- Taking inappropriate photos of a minor for personal use and/or distribution.
- Revealing oneself to a minor.
- Sending sexually inappropriate emails, texts, or messages.
Most acts of sexual abuse and violence are perpetrated by men who occupy a dominant position in relation to their targeted victim. Although their actions are sexual in nature, the perpetrators are truly motivated by a need to dominate, exploit, humiliate, and control another person.
Sexual abuse cases are often linked to an inappropriate misuse of power, such as:
- Authority: Individuals in a position of power sexually abuse others by utilizing and taking advantage of their status. An example of this could be a church youth pastor becoming sexually involved with a teenager from the congregation. The minor may feel obligated to take part in the abuse simply because the youth pastor holds a role of power. Other examples of authority figures include teachers, daycare workers, coaches, and medical professionals.
- Age: Children are often victimized simply because they are too young to protect themselves from assault. Research has found that those who suffer sexual abuse as children are more likely to develop depression, anxiety, addictions, and personality disorders.
- Intimidation: Children and mentally disabled individuals can be especially vulnerable to sexual abuse. The abusers often create stories to explain their behavior, discourage reporting, and coerce the victims to not share accounts of the abuse.
Authority figures who commit acts of sexual abuse need to be held accountable for misusing their power and failing to protect those in their care.
Effects of Sexual Abuse
Many survivors of sexual abuse struggle to navigate the lasting physical, mental, and emotional concerns that are specific to their personal experiences. Some survivors may even develop unhealthy ideas about sexual and romantic relationships that lead to destructive behaviors and emotional distress. The Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) claims that nearly 40% of sexual abuse survivors later experience relationship challenges with family members, friends, and co-workers. It’s also not unusual for survivors to develop mood disorders, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, that provoke suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
That said, it’s vital that parents, guardians, and care providers carefully watch their charges for signs of child sexual abuse. The signs and symptoms include:
- Abrupt changes in mood and normal behaviors.
- Promiscuous actions or an unnatural interest in sexual topics.
- Acting out or doing poorly in school.
- Developing depression, low self-esteem, and other self-worth issues.
School employees, daycare workers, and medical practitioners also have a professional and moral obligation to report suspected cases of child sexual abuse. According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW), only 30% of all sexual assault cases are ever officially reported.
This needs to change.
While the onus of justice should never be forced on a survivor, the decision to take legal action for yourself (or your child) can be considered an act of empowerment. By filing a claim, you can hold the perpetrator legally accountable for their crimes, protect future victims, and hopefully obtain a sense of peace and closure.
Call (888) 635-9500 to speak with a Virginia sexual abuse injury lawyer at Breit Cantor today. Our compassionate team will take the time to discuss your situation and provide a free case analysis.
You can learn more about resources available for survivors here.