Child Sexual Abuse

Statistics tell us that one in four women and one in six men are abused by the time they are 18 years old. Abuse should not happen to anyone, let alone children, who are some of the most vulnerable populations in society. Sadly, child sexual abuse is more often perpetrated by someone that a child or their family knows and trusts, rather than a stranger. We also know that offenders often place themselves in environments and in positions where they have the easiest access to children such as:

 

  • Overnight and Day Camps;
  • Faith Communities such as churches, synagogues, mosques, parachurch organizations, and mission fields;
  • Public and Private Schools and Daycare Centers;
  • Religious and Non-Religious Youth Service Organizations.

 

Within these environments, abuse is often perpetrated by a trusted teacher, professor, administrator, clergy member, or camp counselor. It is usually preceded by time of grooming where the offender works to gain the trust and admiration of the targeted child. It is important to recognize that child sexual abuse occurs far more frequently than people realize, and often goes unreported. Oftentimes, victims don’t report the abuse because of confusion, fear, or thinking that they won’t be believed. If a child discloses being abused, it is critically important that we believe them and take immediate steps to protect them and to remove the reported offender from access to other children.

 

In any of the environments where abuse occurs, positions of power are being abused. Perpetrators offend by manipulating and gaining trust to gain access. While abuse offenders are often viewed as being male, abuse at the hands of females is more common than previously realized. Perpetrators are not just “grooming” their victims, but they are grooming entire communities so that their abuse will go undetected. This highlights the importance of understanding these dynamics so that abuse can be reported and stopped.

What is Child Sexual Abuse?

Though the laws that define child sexual abuse can vary from state to state, the sexual abuse of a minor is any sexual activity– verbal, visual or physical– upon a minor (a person 17 years of age or younger). The minor is considered unable to consent due to developmental immaturity and an inability to understand sexual behavior. An offender may perform acts involving sexual abuse against the minor, or the minor may be told, forced, or in any other way, the offender may cause the minor to engage in sexual behavior with the adult. This also includes nude or sexually suggestive or explicit photographic images of a child which are produced, possessed, or distributed by any person.

Reporting the Crime

Please understand that the sexual abuse of a child is a very serious crime. If you or someone you know has been sexually victimized, one of the most important first steps is to report the abuse to the proper authorities so that a criminal investigation can be started with the hope that the perpetrator will ultimately be prosecuted and convicted.

Holding the Institution Accountable

In addition to reporting the crime to the authorities, victims should also consider holding the institution who employed and enabled the offender to perpetrate the abuse responsible in a civil court of law. Oftentimes, abuse survivors spend years and lots of money seeking professional help as part of their healing journey. The survivor should not have to pay for that out of their own pockets. Holding the responsible institution civilly liable can oftentimes provide abuse survivors with the much-needed financial resources to receive professional help. This is where we at BozLaw P.A. might be able to help you.

Statute of Limitations

Most states provide have laws that limit the time you must initiate legal proceedings related to your abuse. In recent years, certain states have opened what is called “lookback” windows that provide victims the opportunity to file a lawsuit who were barred from doing so under the statute of limitations. That is one reason it is so important to seek the counsel of an attorney who specializes in these types of cases…and that you don’t wait too long to do it. If you’re a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and are considering your legal options to hold those responsible for the abuse accountable in a civil court, you should consider hiring an attorney who specializes in this very specialized field of law. The dynamics of these types of cases are oftentimes complex and require the assistance of an experienced and trauma-informed sexual abuse attorney. Your attorney should also be someone who can help you navigate your case with using compassion, empathy, and an understanding of the impact of your trauma.

Boz Law, P.A. has the expertise and specific experience in each of these areas. We represent abuse survivors around the country as we work to hold organizations accountable for failing to protect those entrusted into their care.

Schedule your consultation today.

[1] Some of those states include Arkansas, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Maine, and Vermont. There is pending “lookback window” legislation in several other states.