Aug 6, 2020
Experiencing sexual violence is life-changing. Assault, abuse, molestation, rape, and all forms of sexual violence are traumatic. The effects are long-lasting and difficult to deal with, impacting individual mental health and family relationships with far-reaching psychological, emotional, and physical effects. Sexual violence is something many people are uncomfortable talking about openly, and uncomfortable even defining. But because the people who experience sexual violence are actual victims of crime, it is important to be able to clearly discuss what happened, how the survivor’s life was affected, and how any future acts can be prevented. Responsible parties must be held accountable.
At Dordulian Law Group, we believe all survivors who have the courage to come forward and report an act of sexual abuse, and we believe in empowering them. No survivor of sexual violence should feel alone or afraid. If you have questions about your rights in a sexual violence case, contact Dordulian Law Group for a free consultation.
Sexual violence is frequently used as an all-encompassing term to refer to many unwanted or inappropriate sexual acts or acts related to coercing a person to engage in them. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines sexual violence as “any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work.”
Sexual violence is a crime. The perpetrator may go to prison and have to pay fines and restitution. Criminal charges punish the perpetrator, but do nothing to prevent future acts and hold institutions accountable for their failures in hiring and supervising. Schools, churches, non-profits, childcare providers, and youth groups must responsibly recruit, hire, train, and supervise both employees and volunteers. A civil lawsuit can hold institutions accountable for their acts, and compensate the victim.
This article will cover the types of sexual abuse, sexual assault, and sexual violence we often encounter. In any of these scenarios, perpetrators may face criminal and civil charges, and third parties may be liable for negligent security, negligent supervision, or negligent hiring.
Force is not always physical – it can be emotional or coercive. Force could be threatening to hurt someone, or tell another person or authorities about something if a person does not participate in a sexual act. According to the anti-sexual violence advocacy group RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), approximately eight out of 10 sexual assault perpetrators know their victims personally. Sexual assault can also include spousal rape or intimate partner violence.
Self-Blame is a common reaction to a drug-facilitated sexual assault. Many survivors feel that they’re at fault for putting themselves in a dangerous situation. When these assaults occur, it is never, under any circumstances, the fault of the victim. People do not choose to be sexually assaulted.
Harassment may or may not always be a criminal act, whereas sexual assault IS always a criminal act. Sexual harassment is often used in conjunction with “sexual misconduct,” which is a non-legal term to refer to numerous inappropriate sexual behaviors, which may or may not include harassment. For example, a CEO having a consensual relationship with an adult intern at work may be deemed sexual misconduct, and a violation of workplace policy, even if no crime is committed. A high school teacher having a sexual relationship with a student may be fired for sexual misconduct, and also face criminal charges for sexual assault.
If you have experienced sexual abuse in any form, you are not alone. What happened to you is not your fault.
In the last decade, there have been growing movements of awareness, social justice, and empowerment surrounding sex crimes. Things like the “Me Too” or “#MeToo” movement centered around film producer Harvey Weinstein gave the general public a sense of the magnitude of the problem. The original #MeToo movement centered around adults, but the cause grew, and the MeTooK12 spinoff was spread by the non-profit group Stop Sexual Assault in Schools. This group brought attention to the vast underreporting by school districts, teachers & administrators, parents, and students themselves.
Along with the MeToo movement, media and victims’ advocates are highlighting institutional sexual abuse, and specifically shining a light on so many organizational leaders who turned a blind eye to such abuse. You may remember some of the horrific accounts of sexual abuse and sexual misconduct involving:
“Community Grooming” is a theme in these cases, where people in positions of leadership and trust groom communities around them to believe they are having positive impacts in their victims’ lives.
On January 1, 2020, a piece of California legislation called AB 218 took effect. The bill essentially extends the time that California child sexual abuse survivors may file a claim, including non-recent abuse. AB 218 has several components:
Another important part of AB 218 is the “Treble Damages” clause. This clause permits courts to compel a defendant to pay up to three times the amount of actual damages to a childhood sexual abuse survivor, if an attempted cover-up of the abuse occurred. In many sex abuse cases, institutions destroyed evidence, told blatant lies, and took other actions to cover-up perpetrator abuse.
Our advice has always been, whenever possible, to report sexual abuse promptly after it occurs. Legal claims based on assertions of abuse present many challenges. Other victims and other witnesses who may corroborate your account may have died, moved away, or say they do not remember. Records like background checks and disciplinary actions may be destroyed without ever having been digitally archived.
From an investigation perspective, it is much easier to identify details like specific dates of encounters, first and last names, addresses, classroom numbers, and makes and models of cars from a month ago versus 15 years ago. You also may easily access records of communications from a month ago, whereas communications from 15 years ago may be destroyed. However, we believe it is important to investigate all claims, regardless of how much time has passed. That’s why we hired a former LAPD Detective Supervisor from the elite Sex Crimes Division, Moses Castillo, to serve as DLG’s Chief Investigator on all sexual abuse cases. We will do everything we can, using every resource available, to help you. As with all of our personal injury cases, we are only paid for our services if we recover money for you. For our clients, this means there are no upfront fees and there is no financial risk to pursue a claim.
We want our clients to feel secure, safe, and confident in our legal abilities, and their future. DLG’s experience, expertise, and resources set us apart from other law firms, giving our clients a true advantage. We have assembled a team of Sexual Assault Justice Experts (SAJE). This includes:
We know you have many choices in selecting a Los Angeles sexual violence lawyer to represent you. Because your future depends on the outcome of your case, choosing the right attorney is the most important decision you can make. We have a success rate of more than 99%, and our case results include more than $100 million recovered. Other attorneys consistently refer sexual abuse cases to DLG, because they appreciate and respect our track record and ability to help their survivor clients recover maximum damages.
Ending abuse and pursuing a new future is not something anyone must do alone. If you’re ready to take the first step towards seeking justice against your perpetrator and recovering the financial damages you deserve, help and hope is just a phone call, email, or click away. Our legal team is available to speak with you 24/7.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and workers compensation concerns.