Sexual abuse happens more often than people think, and some of the worst predators are those who no one ever suspected. Although your attacker may be held criminally responsible, the civil court system exists to compensate you for the financial costs you suffer. The Chicago sexual assault and abuse attorneys of Hale & Monico understand this, and we work hard to win the compensation that victims deserve.
Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault: What’s the Difference?
Sexual abuse is similar in many ways to sexual assault, particularly in the sense that it is unwanted sexual contact. Sexual assault, under Illinois law, has a specific meaning that involves sexual penetration and one of these elements:
- The use or threat of force;
- The lack of consent or understanding of the sexual act on the part of the victim;
- The victim is a family member under the age of 18;
- Holding a position of authority or trust over the victim
Considering these elements, there is an overlap between sexual abuse and sexual assault in Chicago. Therefore, abuse can take these and many other forms:
- Molesting and fondling minors
- Exposing oneself to minors
- Displaying pornography or obscene images to minors
- Unwanted sexual touching
- Date rape
- Abuse of an intimate partner
Who Are the Victims and Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse?
One common characteristic of sexual abuse is a misuse of power or authority over a victim. That is why children, the elderly, and the disabled often end up victims. Attackers will use threats, fear, and many other forms of psychological manipulation both to lure their victims into a false sense of security and to keep them quiet. Typical examples of those who engage in sexual abuse are:
- School teachers
- Daycare providers
- Coaches and extracurricular activity leaders
- Priests and clergy
- Nursing home staff
- Nurses caring for the elderly
- Caregivers for the disabled
- Older relatives
Victims often have a personal relationship with their abusers. In fact, it is often the relationship that gives the predator access to his or her victim and allows the abuse to continue for a long period of time.
How Do Victims Suffer?
Any victim of sexual abuse can experience fear, shame, or embarrassment about what happened. But these feelings are often more pronounced in children and other vulnerable individuals. Those who are hurt often worry that their attacker will come back to abuse them again or harm them in some other way. In these ways, abuse can wreak immense emotional and psychological harm. A victim of sexual abuse can experience these and a host of other problems:
- Radical changes in mood and personality
- Isolation and retreat from family and friends
- Withdrawal from activities the victim once enjoyed
- Poor performance in school or college
- Bedwetting and nightmares in children
- Depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem
- Worsening of depression and other problems in elderly victims
- Inability to form or maintain sexual relationships with partners
- Drug and substance abuse
- Suicidal thoughts and suicide
Due to the severity of these conditions, a victim of sexual abuse needs professional treatment. This may take the form of therapy, counseling, and support from family and social and religious institutions. At the same time, the difficulty of managing these problems is often overwhelming and causes victims to refuse to tell anyone about what happened. This can have devastating effects on the victim and may allow the abuse to continue.
What Damages Do Victims Seek?
Victims need professional help in order to treat their abuse, usually through therapy and counseling. Because depression, anxiety, and other disorders are common among victims, they also typically require prescription medications. Victims who engage in self-harm because of their abuse may need to be involuntarily hospitalized. These and other treatments may last years, or even the rest of the victim’s life.
Of course, all of these come at a steep financial cost for the victim. The worse the abuse is, and the longer it goes on, the harder it is for the victim to recover. Victims should not bear the burden of having to pay for these expenses, especially in Chicago, and that is where civil litigation comes in. Common damages sought by sexual abuse victims in include the following:
Medical bills. These generally cover any sort of hospitalization after an attack, as well as treatment for physical injuries.
Therapy and mental health care costs. Ongoing and future treatment for anxiety, depression, and numerous other disorders are included, as well as costs for prescription drug medications.
Pain and suffering. Mental and emotional distress are commonly joined with these.
How Can A Sexual Abuse and Assault Lawyer Help Me?
An experienced sexual abuse or assault lawyer understands what has to be proven to win your case. Your attorney can also help investigate your claims, which is especially important for incidents that go back a long time. Because many sexual abuse and assault victims stay silent for so long, it can be difficult to remember details and locate witnesses. Your attorney will work closely with you to develop your case.
An attorney is also critical to identifying any and all persons, and institutions, from which you might seek compensation. Abuse cases often involve the misuse of authority, so other parties – including businesses and organizations – may be brought in as defendants. This will increase the likelihood that you will be fairly compensated for your injuries.
Contact Our Chicago Sexual Abuse and Assault Attorney Today
Sexual abuse and assault victims endure lifetimes of trauma and recovery, and they need the support of caring professionals. The Chicago sexual assault attorneys of Hale & Monico fight to ensure that those who perpetrate abuse are held financially responsible. It’s difficult to talk about abuse, but our caring team will help make it easier. Contact us today to discuss your case.