Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse
Of all the personal injury cases that Hannon Legal Group handles, none stir greater feelings of vulnerability and helplessness than those involving sexual assault or sexual abuse. These acts of personal violation occur in places where the victim has every right to feel safe. Often, the victim knows the assailant. Many times, the perpetrator is in a position of authority. Sadly, and too often, the most vulnerable members of our society are the victims: the elderly, the mentally handicapped, and our children.
Sexual abuse and sexual assault are crimes that can be tried in a criminal court of law. While we don’t prosecute crimes like rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse—that’s the role of our state attorneys—as a personal injury law firm in Miami, Florida, Hannon Legal Group can help you seek justice in a civil court from those who should have made your safety their top priority or who created an atmosphere which allowed a sex crime to occur. This holds true whether or not the perpetrator is convicted or whether or not your criminal case against the assailant ever goes to court.What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault takes many forms, including unwanted touching, unwanted fondling, attempted rape, forcing the victim to perform a sexual act, and rape, the actual sexual penetration of the victim’s body. There are two things a victim should understand about sexual assault. First, it’s never consensual. Second, it’s never your fault. If you have been victimized by someone and need counseling, you can call RAINN— the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network—at 1-800-656-4673. You should also report it to your local police department.What is Sexual Abuse? Sexual abuse is a specific kind of sexual assault that happens to children. It’s best understood as any sexual content between an adult and a child. But an adult need not be involved for it to be considered sexual abuse. If another child is the perpetrator, one who is at least three years older or significantly more developed than the victim in terms of physical size and maturity, that is sexual abuse as well. Sexual abuse does not have to involving penetration, pain, or even touching. Merely showing a child sexually explicit materials for one’s sexual gratification is criminal behavior. Involving a child in pornographic photos or videos is also sexual abuse and sometimes statutory rape as well. The Growing Problem Of Sexual Assault And Sexual Abuse
Because of the shame, fear, and stigma associated with being a sexual assault or sexual abuse victim, these crimes are vastly underreported, so gauging the extent and impact of sexual assault and sexual abuse is a daunting task.
The National Victim Center has done extensive investigation on this subject. They report that around 683,000 women are raped each year, but only 16% of these incidents are actually reported to the police. Similarly, studies by the Crimes Against Children Research center show that 5-10% of boys and 20% of girls will experience sexual abuse at some point in their childhood.What Legally Qualifies As Sexual Assault or Sexual Abuse In Florida
While the definitions above provide a broad understanding of these crimes, the following list may help shed some light on the kinds of activities may be considered sexual assault or sexual abuse:
- Attempted rape
- Child molestation
- Fondling or touching a child
- Indecent exposure
- “Peeping Tom” incidents (Voyeurism)
- Rape or intercourse
- Showing a child pornography
- Inducing a minor to participate in pornography
- Sexual harassment
- Watching a child in order to meet an adult’s sexual need or interest
Essentially, if you or your child have been forced to participate in—or receive—unwanted sexual attention, it can be sexual assault.How Property Owner And Property Manager Negligence Can Lead To Sexual Assault Or Sexual Abuse
While our criminal justice system can help bring a perpetrator to justice, there is another avenue for justice open to victims of sexual abuse or sexual assault. Sexual assault and sexual abuse are personal injury matters that Hannon Legal Group addresses in civil courts. In these cases, it is almost never the actual assailant who is held responsible, but rather, the property owner or manager where the abuse or assault took place.
The great tragedy in sexual abuse or sexual assault is that in many cases, they could have been avoided altogether, if only the proper safeguards were in place.
- Was there sufficient security at a nightclub or restaurant that would deter an assailant?
- Did the college have adequate lighting throughout the campus?
- Were there guards on duty at the condominium community so that a perpetrator couldn’t easily gain entry to your home?
- Were the locks functional on the entryways to the dormitory?
- Did the child care operator perform background checks on their employees to weed out sexual predators?
- Did the school, church or scouting organization establish adequate guidelines to help prevent an adult volunteer from assaulting a child?
- Did the nursing home adequately screen and supervise employees?
When organizations fail to take proper safeguards, they can be held accountable in a civil court for the personal injury that happens to you or your child as the victim.The Effects of Sexual Assault or Sexual Abuse
As with any Florida personal injury case, victims of sexual assault or sexual abuse can suffer physically. But many times, these particular crimes result in deep emotional and psychological trauma that can’t be documented in an X-ray or doctor’s report. Perhaps you’ve already experienced some of the following:Changes in appetite or weight
- Disinterest in the activities you once enjoyed
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Fatigue and loss of energy
- Feelings of guilt, loneliness, shame, or worthlessness
- Flashbacks to the assault or abuse
- Grieving and mourning
- Inability to sleep or trust others
- Intimacy and relationship issues
- Loss of energy (fatigue)
- Nausea or stomach aches that have nothing to do with what you ate
- Rage and extreme anger
- PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
- Self-destructive behavior such as cutting
- Self-imposed isolation and a desire to be left alone
- Severe headaches or migraines
- Sexual confusion
- Sexual Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
- Thoughts of suicide
If you have experienced some of the above, please don’t despair. Yes, you were wronged. But the violation you experienced doesn’t have to define you. Hannon Legal Group encourages all clients who have experience sexual assault or sexual abuse to seek counseling from a qualified individual so that you can recover and feel whole once again.What a Sexual Assault/Sexual Abuse Personal Injury Lawyer Will Do To Help
First of all, we’re here to help. We’re profoundly sorry that you or your loved one have been assaulted in some way. Although we can’t undo the harm, Hannon Legal Group can seek to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. We will try to show that the defendant—which may be an employer, a business, a camp, a school, a nursing home, cruise line or an organization—was legally obligated to keep you or your loved one safe and free from harm and that they, in fact, neglected to do so. We’ll then enlist mental health professionals or medical professionals to show how their negligence led to the physical, emotional, and psychological harm you’ve suffered.
Pursuing sexual assault and sexual abuse cases is a delicate and emotionally unnerving endeavor. It’s extraordinarily important that you enlist the help of an experienced personal injury attorney like those at Hannon Legal Group to ensure that justice is achieved on your behalf, that confidentiality is maintained and that all responsible negligent parties are held accountable.What A Victim Of Sexual Assault Or Sexual Abuse Can Expect To Recover In Damages and Compensation
If you, your child or a vulnerable adult loved one has been victimized through sexual assault or sexual abuse that came about because an organization or property owner was negligent, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your damages. Damages is a legal term that refers to the losses—physical, emotional, and financial—that you have experienced. This compensation may include:
- Cost of counseling due to the emotional distress caused by the sexual abuse or sexual assault.
- Loss of wages for the time you have missed work because of the assault or while you recover from injuries sustained as a result of the assault.
- Medical expenses associated with injuries caused by the assault or abuse.
- Pain and suffering.
- Loss of consortium (companionship), which refers to the absence of physical and emotional intimacy a victim is able to experience a spouse or partner due to the trauma of the assault
The business owner or organization who was duty bound to protect you may have failed to fulfill their obligation, but Hannon Legal Group will not fail to do everything in our power to bring justice to your cause. If you or a family member is the victim of sexual assault or sexual abuse, please contact us for a free, confidential consultation when you call (305) 358-3109. Or send an email to request a consultation.