Sexual assault is a traumatic experience that can affect a victim’s physical and mental health for years. At Thomas Law Offices, we believe survivors have the right to hold their abusers accountable and seek a monetary award to aid in their recovery. If you or someone you love is in a situation like that, a sexual assault lawyer from our law firm can help.
Thomas Law Offices is dedicated to helping survivors of sexual assault understand their rights and the laws that protect them. If you’re ready to learn more about your situation and what you can do after an incident involving sexual assault or abuse, we’re here for you.
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Defining Sexual Assault and Violence
Sexual assault refers to sexual behavior or contact that happens without the explicit consent of the victim. There are different types of sexual assault, including attempted rape, fondling or unwanted sexual touching, forcing someone to perform sexual acts, and rape. It’s important to note that while rape is a form of sexual assault, not all assault is rape. While the definition of rape can vary by state, it specifically includes sexual penetration without consent.
When consent comes into question, force doesn’t always refer to physical pressure. Abusers also use emotional coercion, psychological force, and manipulation or intimidation to coerce victims into non-consensual sex acts.
Sexual assault can happen anywhere, but there are often commonalities between cases. We’ve worked with survivors in a variety of cases, including:
- Educational Institutions. Students at universities and other educational facilities have the right to be safe. Suppose an employee, teacher, or other student commits an act of sexual violence against someone on the facility’s campus. In that case, the victim can take legal action against the perpetrator and the school or institution that let the assault happen.
- Nursing Homes. Residents in nursing homes and other healthcare facilities are among the most at risk for abuse. As well as physical debilitations, declining mental status can make the elderly or ill easy targets for perpetrators. As with schools, the facilities can be held accountable when this happens.
- Workplaces. Sexual harassment and assault in the workplace are common. No one wants to endure unwanted sexual advances or comments while they’re at work trying to support themselves and their family financially. We can help victims of workplace harassment pursue civil damages against the perpetrator and employer.
Perpetrators of Sexual Assault
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), eight out of 10 sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows, like in instances of acquittance rape or intimate partner sexual violence. There are, however, instances where a stranger perpetrates sexual assault.
Stranger sexual assault can happen in different ways. The first is blitz sexual assault. This is when a perpetrator quickly and violently assaults a victim with no prior contact. This tends to happen at night in public places. Contact sexual assault happens when a perpetrator reaches out to the victim and tries to gain their trust before forcing sexual contact. There is also home invasion sexual assault, which is when a stranger breaks into a victim’s home to commit the assault.
No matter who you’ve been abused or assaulted by you deserve help. Survivors often blame themselves for what they’ve been through, but it’s important to remember the victim is never to blame.
The Difference Between Criminal and Civil Claims
If you’ve been sexually assaulted and want to take legal action, there are two different types of claims to know about. Once the police receive a report of sexual assault, the local prosecutor can decide to bring charges against the alleged attacker, who would become the defendant. Adult victims are not required to participate in the criminal justice process, but doing so can increase the defendant’s chances of being charged with a crime.
In the civil justice system, sexual assault is classified as an intentional tort, which means the victims can sue their attackers for wrongdoing. Filing a civil lawsuit allows the victim to seek compensation for their losses, making it easier to manage related medical expenses and time taken away from work. Depending on the situation, it may be better to file a claim against the party that failed to take reasonable actions to prevent the assault. This could include schools, hotels, and residential property owners.
Civil claims are separate from criminal cases, so you can pursue a civil lawsuit even if the state does not bring criminal charges against your attacker. There are also benefits to filing a sexual assault lawsuit, including the lower burden of proof, the ability to sue multiple parties at once, and having more control over the proceedings.
Sexual Assault and Title IX
Title IX of Education Amendments of 1972, which the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights enforces, protects people from sexual discrimination and assault in education programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance.
According to Title IX, “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
If you’ve been assaulted or harassed on a college campus, you have the right to take legal action against the institution for failing to protect you. Our sexual assault attorneys can help you through that process.
Resources for Victims of Sexual Abuse
Being forced to do anything sexual against your will and verbal threats of unwanted sexual contact is illegal. No matter the circumstances surrounding your sexual assault, it’s important to understand your rights and options so that you can take the steps you need to move forward.
As a victim of sexual assault, you should know you’re not alone. There are many resources you can access, including the following:
- National Sexual Assault Hotline
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center
- National Organization for Victim Assistance
- National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women
- S. Department of Justice: National Sex Offender Public Website
- The National Center for Victims of Crime
- National Street Harassment Hotline
- Know Your IX
- National Domestic Violence Hotline
- National Child Abuse Hotline
- S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
By utilizing some of the resources above, you can get confidential support from trained individuals and information on local health facilities and laws in your community so you can take your next steps toward healing and recovery.
Seek Justice With Thomas Law Offices
Victims of sexual assault deserve to have their voices heard, and perpetrators of assault should be held accountable for their actions. With the help of a sexual assault lawyer, you can take action and seek compensation for any assault-related losses.
When you seek legal guidance from Thomas Law Offices, we’ll be by your side the entire time. We understand how sensitive of a time this likely is for you, and we’re prepared to help you in whatever way possible. To schedule a free consultation with our law firm, contact us today.