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Warning Signs Your Child May Have Been Sexually Abused By a Teacher, Coach, or Clergy Member

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Warning Signs Your Child May Have Been Sexually Abused By a Teacher, Coach, or Clergy Member

Warning Signs Your Child May Have Been Sexually Abused By a Teacher, Coach, or Clergy Member

Oct 15, 2021

Schools, sports teams, and houses of worship are presumed to be both places of learning and safe spaces for children. When you send your child to school, you’re granting and tasking that institution with the responsibility of educating your child and keeping him or her safe – particularly from sexual abuse. The same goes for sports teams and houses of worship.

But the sad fact remains that countless innocent children are sexually abused in schools and elsewhere each and every day. Dordulian Law Group’s partner organization, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) estimates that every nine minutes, government authorities respond to a report of child sexual abuse.

For parents, sexual abuse is a nightmare that they hope will never impact their child and family. Unfortunately, many children who are sexually abused do not report the incidents to their parents. Predators may intimidate or threaten children into not reporting sexual abuse. Or children may simply be under the impression that no one will believe them if they come forward.

Below we will look at some of the critical warning signs of sexual abuse, review the signs indicating that an adult may be harming a child, and provide information on how you can file a childhood sex abuse claim with Dordulian Law Group (DLG).

What is Child Sexual Abuse?

What is Child Sexual Abuse?
Child sexual abuse entails any form of sexual activity engaged in by a perpetrator with a minor. Children are not able to give consent to sexual activity at any time. This type of abuse can include physical touching and any type of sexual contact with a child (including sexual intercourse). Additionally, child sexual abuse can include various actions, such as exposing oneself, sharing obscene images, or taking inappropriate photos or videos (pornography), etc.

Child sexual abuse impacts all races, genders, ethnicities, religions, and economic backgrounds. In California, sexual abuse is legally defined as sexual assault or sexual exploitation, which are both further detailed in California Penal Code § 11165.1.

What are the Warning Signs of Child Sexual Abuse?

The majority of the child sexual abuse warning signs below are provided by RAINN. We’ll break them down into three categories: physical, behavioral, and emotional signs.

Physical Warning Signs of Child Sexual Abuse:

  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Signs of trauma to the genital area, such as unexplained bleeding, bruising, or blood on the sheets, underwear, or other clothing
  • Unexpected or unwanted pregnancy

Behavioral Warning Signs of Child Sexual Abuse:

  • Excessive talk about or knowledge of sexual topics
  • Changes in personal care, hygiene, or grooming
  • Substance abuse
  • Keeping secrets Not talking as much as usual
  • Not wanting to be left alone with certain people or being afraid to be away from primary caregivers, especially if this is a new behavior
  • Regressive behaviors or resuming behaviors they had grown out of, such as thumbsucking or bedwetting
  • Overly compliant behavior
  • Sexual behavior that is inappropriate for the child’s age
  • Spending an unusual amount of time alone
  • Trying to avoid removing clothing to change or bathe

Emotional Warning Signs of Child Sexual Abuse:

  • Change in eating habits
  • Change in mood or personality, such as increased aggression
  • Decrease in confidence or self-image
  • Suicidal ideations or attempts
  • Excessive worry or fearfulness
  • Increase in unexplained health problems such as stomach aches and headaches
  • Loss or decrease in interest in school, activities, and friends
  • Nightmares or fear of being alone at night
  • Self-harming behaviors

While the list of potential warning signs of child sexual abuse may seem overwhelming for parents, it’s important to note that the more information and education available, the more likely you will be able to identify said signs.

If you’d like a free consultation with an experienced and dedicated member of the DLG team, please reach out at your convenience online or by phone at 818-322-4056.

What Should I Do if My Child Reveals Sexual Abuse?

As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, coming forward and reporting sexual abuse – particularly as a child – involves a tremendous amount of courage. That process of reporting is one that can only be understood by the survivor. Accordingly, the most important thing you can do when a child reports sexual abuse to you as a parent or adult authority is empathize and confirm that you believe the claim.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) offers the following tips for parents if a child reports sexual abuse:

  • Listen carefully to what they’re saying
  • Let them know they’ve done the right thing by telling you
  • Tell them it’s not their fault
  • Say you’ll take them seriously
  • Don’t confront the alleged abuser
  • Explain what you’ll do next
  • Report what the child has told you as soon as possible

Additionally, as DLG’s in-house Chief Investigator and retired LAPD sex crimes detective – Moses Castillo – has noted in the past, after empathizing with and supporting a child who comes forward with an allegation of sexual abuse, the next most important thing you can do is report the claim to the proper authorities. The vast majority of sex crimes sadly go unreported, and it’s important that reports are filed with law enforcement as soon as possible after a child makes an allegation. Once a report has been filed, you may proceed with a separate civil claim (in addition to any criminal charges that may be filed) in pursuit of maximum financial compensation.

What are the Warning Signs That an Adult May be Abusing a Child?

What are the Warning Signs That an Adult May be Abusing a Child?
In addition to identifying signs of child abuse, RAINN offers some signs which may indicate that an adult is harming a child. This can involve sexual or physical abuse, but as RAINN notes, protecting children is a constant challenge given that sexual predators are often in positions of authority and 93% of sexual abuse survivors know their perpetrator.

As DLG’s SAJE Team (Sexual Abuse Justice Experts) member, Detective Moses Castillo, noted in a previous blog interview, sexual predators are notorious for weaving into a family’s inner circle through positions of authority.

“It’s important for parents to realize that the majority of sexual predators aren’t strangers, but someone close to the child and the child’s family. Whether it’s a coach, teacher, clergy member, family friend, or even a close relative, most childhood sexual abuse is committed by a familiar face,” Detective Castillo said.

If an adult makes regular efforts to spend more time (typically alone) with your child than you do as their parent, that’s a red flag,” Castillo added. “Premeditated attempts to get a child alone – whether to go out for ice cream, take a trip to an amusement park, the movies, etc. – are situations that can be conducive to sexual abuse.”

“It’s also important to remember that sexual predators are notorious for seeking out positions (whether as a professional or volunteer) that allow them access to children. Granted, 95% of coaches, teachers, clergy, volunteers at religious institutions, etc. are likely upstanding citizens. But parents need to be aware that there’s no standard model for a sexual predator. A predator can be any of age, gender, socioeconomic status, etc.,” DLG’s founder and president, Samuel Dordulian, says.

Some common warning signs that may indicate an adult is harming your child include:

  • Does not respect boundaries or listen when someone tells them “no”
  • Engages in touching that a child or child’s parents/guardians have indicated is unwanted
  • Tries to be a child’s friend rather than filling an adult role in the child’s life
  • Does not seem to have age-appropriate relationships
  • Talks with children about their personal problems or relationships
  • Spends time alone with children outside of their role in the child’s life or makes up excuses to be alone with the child
  • Expresses unusual interest in child’s sexual development, such as commenting on sexual characteristics or sexualizing normal behaviors
  • Gives a child gifts without occasion or reason
  • Spends a lot of time with your child or another child you know
  • Restricts a child’s access to other adults

How Can I File a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit on Behalf of My Child?

If you suspect your child may be a victim of sexual abuse, the trusted and proven attorneys at DLG are here to fight for justice on your behalf in pursuit of a maximum financial damages award. Child sexual abuse claims are extremely serious matters that deserve swift justice with the utmost discretion and professionalism. DLG was founded by former sex crimes prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, Sam Dordulian. Prior to founding DLG to be the nation’s leading sexual abuse firm, Dordulian helped secure life sentences against some of our community’s most dangerous sexual predators.

At DLG, we believe sexual abuse survivors and their families, and we’re here to support you through the litigation process. Filing a civil claim in pursuit of maximum financial compensation can be the best means of securing justice against your child’s abuser. When you file a sexual abuse civil claim with DLG, we will pursue all applicable damages for your child’s case.

Some common damages that may be recoverable in a child sexual abuse claim include:

  • Psychological trauma
  • Emotional harm
  • Pain and suffering
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Past and future medical bills
  • Past and future counseling or therapy
  • Reduced capacity to earn a living
  • Punitive damages (which are not capped in California)

It’s important to note that sexual abuse civil claims are entirely separate (and have no bearing on) any criminal charges that may be brought against your child’s perpetrator. Unlike criminal charges which are filed by the District Attorney’s Office, civil claims are brought by the family on behalf of the child (if a minor).

In addition to parents filing lawsuits on behalf of their children, California’s new AB 218 law ensures all survivors of childhood sexual abuse are able to file civil claims – even as adults and regardless of how long ago the crime occurred. The three-year lookback window clause within AB 218 (commonly known as a revival window) stipulates that all survivors of childhood sexual abuse may file civil claims in pursuit of maximum financial compensation no matter when the crime occurred. Through said lookback window, the statute of limitations is effectively paused (tolled).

However, it’s very important to note that the three-year lookback window only extends through the end of 2022. On January 1, 2023, the lookback window will have expired, and the standard statute of limitations on childhood sex crimes will resume. Accordingly, survivors who did not file claims – particularly those whose crimes occurred several years ago and outside the standard statute of limitations – will likely be left without any legal recourse.

This is why DLG strongly encourages each and every survivor of childhood sexual abuse to come forward and make your voice heard in pursuit of justice. AB 218 is an unprecedented opportunity at securing justice for survivors of sexual abuse, and we will fight to help you obtain that justice through a maximum financial damages award.

Furthermore, AB 218 includes a treble damages clause stipulating that the courts may award three-times the financial compensation to survivors of childhood sexual abuse in cases where a cover-up can be proven. In other words, a $10 million settlement or verdict would actually be increased to $30 million in the event that a cover-up were proven under AB 218.

This may commonly apply to Catholic Church or Boy Scouts of America cases, but cover-ups can also occur in schools, on sports teams, and in other organizations. DLG fights to recover treble damages in all applicable cases. For additional information on AB 218 and how it can benefit survivors of childhood sexual abuse, please visit our recent blog.

Contact California’s Leading Child Sexual Abuse Attorneys

DLG provides each and every sexual abuse survivor and their family with the utmost respect, discretion, professionalism, and dedication. We know how difficult the process of reporting sexual abuse can be, and we’re here to listen, to believe, and to support survivors and their families in their pursuit of justice through civil lawsuits.

Our unparalleled experience and proven results are why parents of sexual abuse victims and adult survivors who were abused as children throughout the nation consistently choose DLG to handle their claims, obtain justice, and recover maximum financial compensation on their behalf:

Our Sexual Assault Justice Experts are here to help survivors secure justice. Contact our top-rated attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

  • More than $100,000,000 recovered in settlements and verdicts
  • A 98% success record
  • More than 100 jury trial victories
  • Former sex crimes prosecutor
  • Former Deputy District Attorney for L.A. County
  • In-house Chief Investigator/retired LAPD detective
  • More than 25 years of sex crimes experience

Contact us today for a free and no obligation consultation to discuss your child sexual abuse case at 818-322-4056. DLG and Sam Dordulian have successfully helped countless survivors recover maximum financial damages awards and obtain the justice they deserve on their own terms – including claims against the Boy Scouts of America and Catholic Church.

DLG accepts every case on a contingency fee agreement, which means you never have to worry about upfront costs or out-of-pocket expenses when securing the very best legal representation available. Our No Win/No Fee Guarantee means you don’t pay a penny until we recover maximum financial compensation for your sexual abuse claim.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you secure the justice you deserve through a child sexual abuse civil lawsuit.


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