Sexual abuse of a child is one of the most heinous crimes that anyone can commit, and the criminal justice system punishes it accordingly. Long after the predator is tried and imprisoned, the child must live with the consequences of the attack. Child sexual abuse causes irreparable damage, and recovery often takes a lifetime.
Those who commit and enable these crimes are responsible for the harm they do, and they should be compelled to pay for the inevitable costs of treating the victim. If you or a loved one suffered sexual abuse as a child, it’s important to know your legal rights. Hale & Monico represents childhood victims of sexual abuse. We will demand the justice you deserve from the civil court system.
What Is Child Sexual Abuse?
Like other types of sexual abuse, child sexual abuse encompasses many different behaviors. Because children cannot consent to sexual activity, any form of sexual contact with a minor will be considered abuse. Some common examples of child sexual abuse include the following:
- Molesting or fondling a child
- Sexual intercourse with a child
- Any other kind of sex with a child, including oral or anal sex
- Displaying or sharing pornographic material with a child
- Producing or owning any pornographic images or video of a child
- Unwanted sexual touching
- Masturbation or other sexual activity in the presence of a child, or forcing the child to engage in it
- Obscene phone calls, text messages, emails, or other communication with a child
- Sex trafficking and prostitution
How Does Child Sexual Abuse Happen?
Sex predators take advantage of their victims, and they see children as especially vulnerable due to their age, size, and the power they can wield over them. Child sexual abuse often involves abuses of authority or control over a child. An individual is placed in a position where they have access to a child, and they exploit that access to their own benefit. In many cases, the abuse involves force, threats, and intimidation. But some sex abusers use psychological or emotional manipulation instead. They continue to manipulate the child to keep him or her silent and to perpetuate the abuse.
That’s why child sexual abuse can happen in so many settings. Sexual predators often turn out to be:
- School and preschool teachers
- Daycare providers
- Extracurricular activity leaders
- Priests and other clergy
- Older relatives
- Other trusted adults
Sexual predators often have some sort of personal relationship with their victims, which is what enables them to have access to the child. The relationship that the abuser has with the victim, or the position held by the abuser, often discourages the victim from speaking up. Children are more likely to be silenced because of their age and because they may not know to whom they can turn.
What Are Some Warning Signs of Child Sexual Abuse?
Because many children do not or cannot speak up about sexual abuse, it is often up to adults to watch out for warning signs. These are some red flags that abuse of a child may have occurred:
- Unexplained bruising, bleeding, or swelling in the genital area
- Torn or stained undergarments
- Difficulty walking or sitting
- Changes in mood or personality, including isolation and withdrawal
- Poor performance in school
- Nightmares and unusual fear of sleeping in the dark
- Regressive behaviors, such as thumb-sucking in older children
- Depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem
- Inappropriate knowledge about sex or sexual topics
- Running away from home
- Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts
If your child is experiencing these behaviors, alert authorities immediately and speak with an experienced child sex abuse attorney.
Victims of sexual abuse, especially children, need professional treatment for these and other problems. Therapy and counseling can help a child deal with their abuse and can help treat common disorders such as depression and anxiety. A child may also need to be hospitalized for any physical injuries or if they engage in any form of self-harm stemming from the abuse.
How Can An Attorney Help?
Professional treatment comes at a price, especially if the abuse is severe. The child’s family should not be responsible for these expenses, and an attorney can help hold the abuser financially liable.
Unfortunately, in many cases, the abuser does not have the resources necessary to fully compensate the victim. Perhaps the abuser has already spent money on a criminal defense attorney and is now incarcerated. Your attorney will investigate thoroughly to uncover any assets that may be owned by the abuser which can go toward the recovery of the child.
Many children are victimized because an organization like a sports team, church, or social group enabled or failed to prevent the abuse. In cases like these, you may be able to hold these organizations responsible for what happened. Your attorney will uncover any groups that may also be brought into your case as defendants.
Depending on the facts in your case, you may be able to claim damages for:
- Medical bills, including costs to treat physical injuries resulting from the abuse
- Therapy and mental health care costs to help the child recover
- Prescription drug medications to treat the child
One role of your attorney is to thoroughly investigate the abuse and accumulate the evidence needed to prevail in court. Bear in mind that civil and criminal trials are independent of each other. That means that whether the abuser is found guilty, you will need to establish liability in a civil lawsuit. Having an experienced child sex abuse attorney is essential to this process.
Contact Our Chicago Child Sexual Abuse Attorney Today
At Hale & Monico, we understand the pain that you and your child have endured because of sexual abuse. We’re here to help. Let our compassionate team help you and your child to understand what happened and demand compensation for your child’s injuries. If you are an adult who suffered abuse at a younger age, we also want to hear from you. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.