Sexually abusing a child is one of the most repulsive crimes imaginable. Fortunately, the justice system imposes harsh criminal penalties for this heinous offense. But there are limits to what the criminal courts can do. Even if the predator is convicted and imprisoned, the child will have to suffer the consequences stemming from the child sexual abuse.
Individuals who commit these crimes, and the institutions that often enable them, can be ordered to pay for the treatment that survivors need and deserve. This is where experienced legal counsel can help. If you or a loved one were sexually abused as a child, reach out to Privette Law Office. We represent victims of childhood sexual abuse in demanding justice through the civil courts.
Understanding Child Sexual Abuse
Children cannot consent to sexual activity, which means any type of sexual contact with them will be considered abuse. Like other types of sexual abuse, child sexual abuse includes a vast array of behaviors that harm children and leave them with physical, emotional, and psychological scars.
These are a few of the most common examples of child sexual abuse:
- Fondling or molesting a child
- Unwanted sexual contact with a child
- Sexual intercourse with a child
- Engaging in any other kind of sex with a child, including oral or anal sex
- Displaying, sharing, or producing pornographic material with a child
- Owning any pornographic images or videos of a child
- Masturbation with or in the presence of a child, or forcing the child to engage in it
- Sexually explicit or obscene phone calls, text messages, emails, or other communications with a child
- Prostitution and sex trafficking involving a child
Why Child Sexual Abuse Happens
All sex predators try to victimize those they perceive as vulnerable or defenseless. Unfortunately, these victims are often children. Child sexual abuse is frequently found where adults exercise authority over or control of children. When a predator is placed in a position where they have ready access to a child, it’s usually not long before they exploit that relationship for their own benefit.
Some common settings in which child sexual abuse is found include:
- Schools and preschools
- After-school and extracurricular programs
- Athletic teams and events
- Religious settings, such as churches
- The homes of relatives, babysitters, and other trusted adults
Abuse in many cases involves force, coercion, intimidation, and threats. But this is not always the way in which sexual abuse happens. Some abusers use emotional, social, or psychological manipulation in a process that is broadly referred to as grooming. The goal of a groomer is to gain the trust of the child, and often the child’s parents, to the point that the groomer is able to engage in sexual abuse.
Sadly, the control typically doesn’t end there. The predator’s goal continues to be sexually abusing the child, with the added objective of keeping the child silent. This may be done by any of the methods mentioned above – threats, manipulation, and so forth.
Sexual abuse frequently happens because schools, daycares, and other organizations fail to conduct sufficient background checks to ensure predators are not employed or allowed to volunteer with children. Tragically, many of these entities know or have reason to know that abuse is either likely or actively occurring, yet deliberately turn a blind eye. There are even instances in which known predators are moved to other locations where they continue abusing children.
Warnings Signs Of Child Sexual Abuse
Children may be too young to speak up about their abuse, or even know it’s going on. In other cases, they have been silenced by threats, bribes, or intimidation. Regardless of the reasons children cannot or do not report abuse, parents and other responsible adults should be aware of these red flags:
- Unusual bruising, bleeding, or swelling in the genital area
- Stained or torn clothing or undergarments
- Difficulty sitting or walking
- Social isolation and withdrawal
- Poor academic performance
- Regressive behaviors, e.g. thumb-sucking in older children
- Unexplained changes in mood or personality
- Anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem
- Inappropriate knowledge about sexual topics
- Running away from home
- Suicide attempts and suicidal ideation
Alert authorities and speak with an experienced child sexual abuse attorney immediately if your child is exhibiting these signs.
The Long-Term Costs Of Abuse
Survivors of child sexual abuse will typically face years, if not a lifetime, of physical, emotional, and psychological consequences resulting from the abuse. They may need medical treatment for physical injuries and diseases, or counseling and therapy to deal with disorders like anxiety and depression. Children sometimes develop addictions to drugs and alcohol because of the abuse.
Professional treatment is expensive, especially in cases where the abuse is severe or happens for an extended amount of time. The child’s family, or the child him- or herself in adulthood, should not have to pay for these expenses.
How Privette Law Office Can Help
An experienced child sexual abuse lawyer can help the survivor and/or the family demand compensation from the abuser. In many cases, however, the abuser lacks the financial resources necessary to fully compensate the victim. Where there is evidence that an organization failed to prevent the abuse, or actively facilitated it, your lawyer may be able to hold that entity liable. These organizations tend to have more resources available and will be named defendants if the evidence allows it.
The child victim and/or family may be able to seek the following damages related to the abuse (among others):
- Medical bills
- Therapy, counseling, and mental health care costs
- Addiction treatment
- Prescription drug medications
Contact Our Southern Missouri Child Sexual Abuse Attorney
When you retain our firm, we get to work immediately, investigating the abuse and building a case. Remember, civil and criminal trials are different. Even if the abuser is found guilty, proving civil liability (and liability for an organization) is a separate matter. If you’re ready to get started on your case, or you have questions, call Privette Law Office today.