Fighting for Sexual Abuse Victims – It’s Never Too Late to Get Justice!
If you or a loved one has been a victim of sexual violence, you deserve access to an experienced and compassionate sexual assault and abuse lawyer who is on your side and will help you seek justice against the people and institutions that were responsible for the assault and abuse.
Contact us online or call (866) 709-0505 to schedule a free, confidential, and completely private consultation with at attorney. We can meet you at your home or one of our many office locations in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC.
Most Sexual Assault Victims Know their Abuser
Statistically speaking, most survivors of sexual assault and abuse personally know the abuser. Victims may have been attacked in their homes, in the office or place of work, or even in the house of the perpetrator. It is a myth to say that sexual offenses always take place in dark, unfamiliar places such as corner streets or alleys.
As experienced sexual assault and abuse lawyers, we know how difficult it can be to take action against someone you know, but you do have the right to justice. In fact, state and federal laws may allow you to obtain financial compensation for the pain and harm you suffered. If you are confused about your position as a victim of sexual abuse, a trusted sexual assault attorney can help you legally and emotionally. At Ashcraft & Gerel, our sexual assault and abuse lawyers have the knowledge, experience, and resources needed to help you file a civil lawsuit against your attacker.
Sexual Assault Affects All Types of People
The assumption that only women are victims of sexual assault is untrue. Although male victims are fewer in number than female victims, men are still subject to abuse. The National Statistics on Sexual Violence reports that 1 of 4 women and 1 of 6 men will experience a sexual assault at least once in their life. One of 33 men will have struggled against rape or attempted rape at least once in their lifetime. According to a report by the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN), male college students are up to five times more likely to be sexual assault victims than non-students.
While both males and females can be—and are—the victims of sexual abuse, statistics show that women and girls are much more at risk. In fact, 82% of all victims of sexual abuse under the age of 18 are female. Women who are 16 to 19 years old are also 4 times more likely to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault than men their age. In addition, nearly 20% of high school female students report some type of physical and or sexual abuse by their dating partner.
Approximately 20 million (18%) women in the U.S. have been raped during their lifetime. A substantial percentage of female college students are victims of rape, but only 12% of these cases are reported to law enforcement for fear of embarrassment or ridicule.
Common Myths about Sexual Abuse
Unfortunately, there are still a lot of false claims surrounding sexual violence. The Office on Violence Against Women by the U.S. Department of Justice has put together a list of debunked myths about sexual assault.
Common myths include:
- An individual’s promiscuous dress or action can be the reason for sexual assault: A person’s outfit or demeanor cannot inherently translate to a sexual invitation. Consent must be verbally and explicitly stated before any sex act, or the initiator is committing assault.
- A victim could have prevented sexual violence if he or she did not leave home: As already mentioned, an attack has nothing to do with location. Many victims have been assaulted in their own homes or the homes of close friends.
- If the individual drinks or takes drugs, they do not have a right to sue their perpetrators: The consumption of alcohol or drugs is not a legal excuse for someone to perform sexual acts with the intoxicated.
- To prove sexual assault, a victim must exhibit hysteria: It is wrong to assume that simply because someone is quiet, they could not possibly be a victim of sexual assault. Sexual violence may have a range of effects on a victim’s mental health, and each person will respond in their own way. Silence does not invalidate or disprove a person’s experience of abuse.
- If a sexual assault was not immediately reported to authorities, later charges are inherently not credible: The time it takes for a victim to file a report does not correlate to the validity or authenticity of his or her sexual assault claim. Many victims, in fact, choose not to report the attack because of trauma, fear of retaliation, or worry that they may lose their jobs.
Who may be liable for sexual assault and abuse?
Aside from their attacker, other parties may be held liable in a sexual violence case. In some cases, the offender works for the same company as the victim or is a student at the same university. Sometimes, a company, organization, or institution acted or failed to act in a way that allowed the abuse to take place. If authority figures ignored reports or failed to appropriately respond to them, they could be liable. Certain rules and limitations apply when determining whether persons, companies, or organizations other than the attacker can be held accountable for damages caused by a sexual assault. This is why it is important to seek advice from your sexual assault attorney in Washington DC, Maryland, or Virginia.
An Employer’s Accountability for Sexual Assault
The perpetrator’s position in the company may determine your employer’s liability. If you were assaulted by someone who is an officer or owner of a company, the employer may be liable for the offenses committed by your assaulter.
There will be some difficulty in establishing your employer’s liability if the offender is a colleague or a customer, or if they are not your immediate supervisor. However, this doesn’t mean that your employer cannot be held responsible for negligence. If it can be proven that your employer knew or should have known of the harassment or assault but failed to take necessary action, they may face serious legal consequences.
An Academic Institution’s Responsibility for Sexual Assault
According to the Education Amendments of 1972, specifically under Title IX, sexual discrimination is prohibited in any educational program that is a recipient of federal funding. This statute encompasses harassment, rape, and sexual assault.
The following are some of the highlights of the law:
- To qualify as discrimination, the assault must be serious and persistent so that it already affects the victim’s education.
- A college or university determined to possess authority over the offender and the location of the offense will be held liable.
- Supreme Court precedent holds an academic institution responsible if it is proven that the school failed to respond necessarily and responsibly to the complaint.
- Furthermore, the Supreme Court requires a college or university that is the recipient of federal funding to pay compensation to the student-victim if there is an established proof of the school’s negligence and indifference.
The Statute of Limitations
Though most states allow the victim only 2 or 3 years from the time of injury to file a lawsuit, sexual abuse cases may be granted exceptions. Depending on the state, the victim may be allowed to extend the statute of limitations, especially if they were a minor when the assault occurred. Children often do not realize that sexual abuse was occurring until they grow up or may report a pattern of abuse that started long ago and is ongoing.
In other cases, the judge may consider the fact that the victim was suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) or had suffered memory lapses as a result of the trauma that interfered with their capability to file a lawsuit. It is important to note that while this flexibility exists for certain cases, this leeway in filing a civil lawsuit is not for an indefinite period.
Surviving Sexual Assault
Sexual assault and abuse can often lead to serious physical injury, poor mental health, chronic pain, hospitalization, disability or, in some cases, death. Children who are victims of sexual abuse may face significant psychological impacts. A large number of sexual assault victims develop mental health issues such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Victims of sexual abuse may also struggle with anger after the incident, as well as significant shame and guilt, social problems with others, sexual problems, and alcohol and drug use.
Choose the Sexual Assault Attorneys Who Will Fight for You
Cases of sexual violence can bring up intense emotion and sensitive memories, not only for the victim but also for the victim’s family and witnesses. Therefore, it is important to choose a sexual assault and abuse attorney who possesses the legal knowledge, experience, and commitment needed in a sexual offense case.
Our sexual assault attorneys in Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland will:
- Explain your options
- Be committed to your case
- Inform you of your rights
- Pay attention to the details of your case
- Be empathetic and compassionate when representing you
At Ashcraft & Gerel, we are committed to helping you regain what you have lost, one step at a time. If you are ready to seek compensation in a civil court, we are here to help. We will listen to your story and clarify your legal options, so you know how to obtain justice.