Sexual abuse is one of the crimes with the lowest proportion of reports, and according to the data of numerous global studies, for every reported rape, there are between 15 and 20 unreported cases.
It is a daily occurrence in all segments of our lives: on the streets, in public spaces, in schools and colleges, in the workplace. Due to the way the problem is treated and the problems related to proof, we can usually find out about these forms of violence only from personal conversations, reports from women’s non-governmental organizations and research results.
Being a victim of a sexual assault gives one a couple of ways to compensate for what they have been through. Being able to sue the perpetrator for damage is one option, another one is filing a civil lawsuit.
If one has been a victim of rape, groping, or indecent exposure, there is a very good base for a civil lawsuit to be filed. Moreover, the one committing this horrible act doesn’t even have to be convicted of a crime before, as long as a person had gone through suffering the damage by his acts, he can file a lawsuit.
A victim should know that he or she is entitled to different types of damages, and can recover financial means for everything they had to pay for afterward, such as counseling, medical bills, emotional suffering, lack of sleep, and so on. In some cases, partners of the victims are also entitled to certain compensations, in case they decide to pursue it.
All of this sound very comforting, but how does the process go? This article will give you a walkthrough, to have a better understanding of filing civil lawsuits in such cases.
What is sexual violence in the first place…
Sexual violence is any sexual act, attempted sexual act, unwanted sexual comment, or suggestion directed against a person and their sexuality, which can be committed by another person regardless of the relationship with the victim or the situation in which they are. It is characterized by the use of force, threats, or blackmail to endanger the well-being and/or life of the victim himself or persons close to it.
Such violence can be seen in a wide continuum, from harassment and abuse, through rape, to the trafficking of women for the purposes of forced prostitution and/or pornography. In addition to the above forms, sexual violence is also a ritual practice, a punishment for gender transgression, rape in war, and female genital mutilation.
Sexual harassment is one of the most common forms of sexual violence, which is the most easily tolerated and for which most legislations do not have a sanctioning mechanism. It includes unwanted sexual behaviors that do not necessarily involve physical touch, and that put a person in an uncomfortable and humiliating position and cause a feeling of shame. The key element is power, that is, it is exercised bytokry a person who is in a more powerful position than the person over whom it is exercised (eg a boss over a subordinate, a professor, or assistant over a student).
It is often treated as a trivial problem that can be easily avoided and stopped, which is often not true. Very often, these are repetitive behaviors that occur over a long period of time and for which the victim cannot find a systematic solution.
So, how can we prove it and file a civil lawsuit?
As it is stated in the beginning, such lawsuits are very relevant, but there are challenges. The biggest one is for the prosecution to prove the guilt. In the cases of sexual assaults, it is tricky to prove that someone has actually been assaulted or to be concretely exposed to a sexual act without consent.
However, when it comes to civil lawsuits, the challenge is a little less, since it is on a jury to determine whether the probability that the consent was not given is high, or more likely than not. So, if a victim’s version of what has happened is presented in a rough way, there is a high probability the jury will hold the defendant liable.
There is a big difference between a criminal and a civil trial here. See, in crime, all members of the jury have to agree that someone is guilty in order to face a conviction. However, in a civil one, just one part (the majority) has to agree that the defendant is liable.
Hiring professional help will make all the difference…
Having to go through all this trauma is difficult, which is why it is very important to find adequate help you can rely on taking most of the burden off your back when it comes to these lawsuits. There are specialized lawyer services who deal only with cases of sexual assault, who can help you and work in your best interest. You can find out more by researching what services they offer.
What are the time limits of these types of lawsuits?
This depends on the actual crime, and what type it is, since there are many different categories, as was mentioned at the beginning of the article. But, if it was an adult who became a victim of the assault, there is a two-year time limit from the date of the assault to file a lawsuit.
There is a pattern according to which we only mean there are two parties involved in an assault, that’s the victim and a perpetrator, however, when it comes to these lawsuits, they give us a possibility to widen this circle. Let’s face it, in most cases, there are other people somehow involved in the crime, who should be held accountable, and these are the people whose behavior or negligence caused this to happen to another. Those who had the power to stop it, but didn’t. Hence, it is on us to become aware of it and start holding people accountable for what they have done if we want to make such crimes processed at a higher rate.