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Sexual Abuse

Sexual Abuse: A Silent Epidemic

Sexual abuse is a silent epidemic that affects millions of lives daily. Despite its prevalence, it is the most grossly underreported crime in the United States. More often than not, the perpetrators of these crimes face no consequences for their actions while victims are left to suffer in silence and carry the weight of trauma for the rest of their lives. We at 1-800-LAW-FIRM see this as an injustice not only to abuse victims, but to society as a whole.

Why Speak Up?

It is common for victims to question the level of seriousness associated with sexual abuse and to assign self-blame, however unwanted sexual contact is never okay, nor is it ever the victim’s fault. Survivors are often silenced out of shame, fear that they will not be believed, or fear that they will be blamed.

The solution to the sexual abuse epidemic starts with illumination and accountability. Shining light on the issue means it will cease to exist in the shadows. By making sure perpetrators are held accountable for their actions, future recurrences can be avoided and survivors can regain control over their lives. Many survivors agree that speaking up and seeking justice is a crucial step on the path towards healing. Though nothing can ever fully erase the traumas associated with sexual abuse, taking legal action is one way survivors can make the transformation from victim to victor.

Sexual Abuse by People in Positions of Power

Generally, individuals in positions of power truly work for the betterment of others, however there are some that use their authority to exploit individuals in vulnerable positions. This can include sexual abuse at the hands of medical professionals, law enforcement, religious leadership and many others.

If you or someone you care for was victimized by an authoritative figure, the team at 1-800-LAW-FIRM can help direct you to the best resources appropriate to your specific needs. All consultations are absolutely free and confidential.

Sexual Offenders by Sector:

  • Medical Sector: Includes individuals employed by a medical or mental health facility such as doctors, nurses, caretakers, counselors, social workers and even janitorial staff. Patients at medical and/or mental health facilities are vulnerable to abuse and are unfortunately targeted by perpetrators in the industry.
  • Religious Sector: Includes individuals employed by a religious institution such as priests, rabbis, imams and others. In many cases, abuse victims in a religious context are children and may have complex relationships with their abusers. Perpetrators in this industry are oftentimes well-liked and respected members of a community and may use threats to dissuade victims from breaking their silence. In some instances, the religious community at large puts additional pressure on victims and their families to stay silent about these horrific, inexcusable crimes.
  • Government Sector: Includes government employees such as law enforcement and military personnel. Perpetrators in positions of governmental authority sometimes exploit their power at the victim’s expense. People who are victimized in this sector often feel threatened by the imbalance of power in relation to their abuser and may not speak up out of fear that their story will not be believed.
  • Collegiate / Educational Sector: Includes members of educational institutions such as teachers/professors, principals, social workers, fraternity members and others. It is common for victims in this sector to doubt the seriousness of the abuse and assign self-blame. Title IX rights prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in educational settings and require educational institutions to act promptly and efficiently in response to reports of sexual abuse and other civil injustices.
  • Corporate Sector: Includes members of a corporate setting such as employers, colleagues, business associates and others. Abuse victims in corporate environments may tend to remain silent out of shame and fear of judgement. White-collar abusers are often repeat offenders and may threaten their victims out of fear of their own exposure.
  • Athletic Sector: Includes individuals employed by athletic institutions of all ages and skill levels ranging from little league coaches to Olympic trainers. Perpetrators in this category oftentimes groom victims by gradually increasing the level of abuse while showering them with gifts and/or special treatment. This can be especially confusing and damaging for child victims as they may not understand the tenacity of their situation.
  • Corrections Sector: Includes individuals employed by both federally owned and private corrections facilities. Convicted criminals are an easy target for perpetrators in the corrections industry and are especially vulnerable to abuse of all kinds.

Effects of Sexual Abuse Include:

  • Self-harm
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Pregnancy
  • Substance Abuse
  • Dissociation
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections
  • Suicide

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What is Sexual Abuse? Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Sexual abuse can happen to women or men of any age. It can be a single occurrence or take place over an extended period of time. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, inappropriate touching, incest, fondling and attempted rape.
  • What is Consent? Consent is an agreement between two parties to engage in sexual activity. Consent is NOT pressuring someone into engaging in sexual activity by using threats and intimidation.
  • What is PTSD? PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental disorder in which triggers the resurfacing of memories associated with trauma, invoking intense physical or emotional reactions. Although there is no known cure for PTSD, treatments consist of medications and therapy. If left untreated, PTSD can last years or a lifetime.
  • What are the Potential Benefits of Pursuing Legal Action? Many survivors who pursue legal action find that the experience of coming forward helped them to regain control over their life. Certain emotional and physical injuries sustained as a result of sexual abuse may also be compensable.
  • What are the Potential Risks of Pursuing Legal Action? Legal proceedings may span over many months or years. Some find this process to be exhausting, although most find that the benefits outweigh the risks. Pursuing legal action presents more inherent risks to the perpetrator of the abuse than to the survivor, and abusers may therefore threaten their victims out of fear of their own exposure.

Additional Resources:

Understand Your Legal Options

If you or someone you care for is a survivor of sexual abuse, you may wish to consider taking legal action. Fill out the form on the sidebar or call 1-800-529-3476 to be contacted by a legal professional to discuss your situation. Know that all calls are free and confidential.