Sexual abuse has a profound impact on the victim’s life. The victim may be fearful to step outside their home if the abuse was a chance criminal action or they may be wary to trust a new person if the abuse was the result of an initial meeting or date gone awry.
Regardless of the situation, sexual abuse is a devastating time in any person’s life. But you can hold the abuser liable. When you work with the Richmond sexual abuse attorneys at Pendleton Law, we can file a claim in civil court in addition to a criminal complaint.
What Is Considered Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse or assault refers to any action against you without your consent. It can be physical, verbal, or mental. Someone does not have to touch you to be guilty of committing sexual abuse against you.
Putting you in undesired situations can also constitute sex abuse, such as sexualizing a child or forcing you to watch private sexual acts. The following constitutes as sexual abuse:
- Attempted rape
- Child molestation
- Child sexual abuse
- Drug-facilitated sexual abuse
- Internet sex crimes
- Intimate partner sexual violence
- Nonconsensual touching
- Rape or unwanted penetration
- Sexual harassment
Any sexual acts you did not agree to could qualify as sexual abuse, whether someone physically touched you or not. A sexual predator could be a stranger, a coach, a priest, a coworker, a boss, a date, a friend, or a family member.
The offender can be of the same or the opposite sex. Sexual abuse can leave you feeling scared, intimidated, injured, traumatized, or violated, seek legal counsel in Richmond for in confidence about whether you have a sexual abuse or assault claim.
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How Can a Richmond Sexual Abuse Attorney Help?
If you contact a sexual abuse lawyer in Richmond after experiencing this traumatic crime, he or she can immediately go to work on your case. Your lawyer can:
Investigate the Incident
Your lawyer can identify one or more parties who may owe you financial compensation. The sexual abuser may not be the only defendant in your case. If another party, such as your employer or a company, should reasonably have prevented the incident, that party could also be partially liable for the situation.
Medical records, forensic reports, police reports, photographs, eyewitness statements, and surveillance footage could all serve as important evidence for your civil sexual abuse lawsuit.
Revisit Places and People Who You Do Not Wish to Face
When it is time to file the claim, your lawyer can fill out the paperwork and bring your claim before the state’s deadline. The statute of limitations under Va. Code § 8.01-243 is 20 years from the time the survivor turns 18 for child sexual abuse and two years for adult sexual abuse or assault.
Fight Aggressively for Fair Results
While you focus on rebuilding your life and recovering from the trauma of sexual abuse, your lawyer can handle all legal aspects of your claim. Your sexual abuse lawyer can keep your identity anonymous during the claims process if desired. Your attorney will make sure no one takes advantage of you during your sex abuse claim in Richmond.
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Sexual Abuse Cases in Virginia
Sexual abuse can encompass many different types of actions, the majority of which fall within the criminal code. There is typically no “sexual abuse” action that you may bring a claim under, but you may bring a claim under assault and battery, or even under the intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The more actions (both civil and criminal) which are brought against the perpetrators, the more likely it will become that these individuals will not attack future victims. The emotional wounds may take time to heal, but it is important to hold the attacker liable for their actions.
Many instances of sexual abuse continue to go unreported throughout the state of Virginia, but an experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to advise you on the best type of claim to bring for your individual action.
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Personal Injury Claims
While sexual abuse and sexual assault seem to be a primarily criminal actions, victims have the ability to bring a civil claim for damages at the same time the criminal case is pending. Criminal cases and civil cases do not have to overlap, and the decision of one court will not impact the decision of the other court.
Since criminal courts have a higher burden of proof than civil courts, it’s sometimes easier for a victim to receive a punitive judgment in a civil court than in a criminal court. The damages in a sexual abuse claim will often come from the physical and emotional harm caused to the victim.
The victim of a sexual abuse claim is entitled to bring a claim for damages against the responsible party, including the following:
- Emotional distress
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Punitive damages
The impact of sexual abuse can often be both physical and psychological and can have a profound effect on a victim’s future. An experienced Richmond sexual abuse attorney will assist you in developing your claim and determining the true impact of the sexual abuse on the victim.
While the aftermath of a sexual abuse incident is a difficult time, it is important to bring a claim for damages as soon as possible to ensure the attacker is appropriately punished for their actions, and to ensure you remain within the limitations period.
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Warning Signs for Sexual Abuse in Children
Spotting sexual abuse isn’t always easy to identify, especially in children. Some warning signs may be easier to notice by someone close to the victim but is usually seen in adults who have the following qualities:
- Lack of boundaries or doesn’t take “no” for an answer
- Trying to befriend a child instead of acting as an authoritative figure in a child’s life
- Often sexualizes or discusses sexual characteristics of children
- Spends unauthorized time with a child outside of their role as an educator or caretaker
- Gifts things to children for no reason
- Limits a child’s access to other adults
- Spends a mass amount of time with children
- Are constantly in relationships that aren’t age-appropriate
- Touches children in unwanted ways
Abuse triggers behavioral signs in kids like excessive talk about sex, refusal to be left alone with certain people, self-isolating, and regressive habits like bedwetting. Emotional signs include: decreased confidence, fearfulness, change in appetite or personality, nightmares, and unexplained health problems.
Sexual Abuse Warning Signs for Adults
While addressing sexual abuse isn’t easy, the impact that it leaves can be crippling. In adults, sexual abuse isn’t always immediately noticed. There are many reasons why the victim wouldn’t make the connection but warning signs from the offender can look like this:
- Insistent on physical affection like hugs, kissing, or tickling
- Requesting time alone with the victim and restricting others from interrupting
- Buying the victim expensive gifts
- Making sexual jokes or advances
- Frequently walking in on or bumping into the victim
- Treating the victim as a favorite
Abuse survivors demonstrate symptoms such as memory loss, extreme dislike of certain things, emotional instability, difficulty focusing, anger issues, fear of sex or promiscuity, and chronic pain. Survivors of sexual abuse can pursue justice with a Richmond attorney. to ensure that the perpetrator is held accountable.
What to Do After You’ve Experienced Sexual Abuse
The process of healing from sexual abuse starts with taking a few steps to protect yourself. If you or anyone you know have experienced sexual abuse, follow these steps:
1. Get to a Safe Place Away From the Attacker or Sex Offender
Go to the police station or a hospital as soon as you can or call the police to report the incident. You may be in shock after experiencing sexual trauma, call the national hotline at (800) 656-HOPE (4673). A counselor can help you through these feelings.
2. Connect With Someone You Trust for Support, Whether It Is a Friend or a Family Member
This can help combat common post-traumatic feelings such as shame, guilt, anxiety, depression, and isolation. If you do not have someone you can trust with this information, call a crisis hotline for an anonymous chat with someone trained to listen and advise.
3. Pursue Medical Attention
Immediate medical attention could treat any bodily injuries and potentially collect evidence that could build a case against the assailant. In most states, the window for collecting this forensic evidence is 72 hours.
4. File a Police Report
If you have not already called the police, do so after your examination at the hospital. The hospital can work with the police to exchange information and evidence involved in your case. Give the police your side of the story in full, in as much detail as you can. You can always call the police and give more details later if they come back to you.
5. Consider Your Legal Options
Calling the police could set a criminal investigation in motion against your perpetrator. Cooperating with the police as much as you can helps the courts reach a conviction for sexual abuse or assault against the person who hurt you. While the abuser goes through the criminal justice system, you can work with a sexual abuse lawyer in Richmond to file a civil complaint.
Penalties for Sex Crimes in Virginia
Those who commit sex crimes should face both criminal and civil consequences. Our sex abuse lawyers are passionate about holding sex offenders responsible for their crimes through the civil justice system, advocating for survivors’ rights every step of the way.
We are also well-versed in the criminal consequences of sex crimes in Virginia. If the person who abused or assaulted you receives a conviction, he or she could face severe penalties depending on the type of crime. Punishments are as follows:
- Sexual battery: Class 1 misdemeanor. A maximum fine of up to $2,500 and/or a prison sentence of up to one year. The attempted sexual battery comes with the same punishments.
- Aggravated sexual battery: Class 6 felony. One to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $100,000.
- Rape: Class 4 felony. Five years to life in prison. Forcible sodomy is also a felony with a maximum sentence of life in prison, as is object sexual penetration.
- Attempted rape: Class 4 felony. Two to 20 years in prison and a max fine of $100,000. The same penalties apply to attempted forcible sodomy and attempted object sexual penetration.
- Carnal knowledge of minors between 13 and 15: Class 4 felony. Two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. This charge could apply even if the minor gave his or her consent.
- Sexual abuse of a child under 15: Class 1 misdemeanor. Maximum sentence of 12 months in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
- Sexual abuse or assault between family members: Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia, with consequences such as 12 months in prison and/or a fine of $2,500 maximum.
The state of Virginia classifies 20 different sexual assault crimes total, each with unique definitions and penalties. If someone receives three misdemeanor convictions for sex crimes, they will face a Class 6 felony charge, with punishments such as up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
Our lawyers can help you build a civil sexual abuse claim during or after the completion of a criminal case against the same defendant. The courts in Richmond may extend your statute of limitations until the resolution of a criminal case.
Consult a Sexual Abuse Lawyer in Richmond, VA
If you or a loved one have been the victim of sexual abuse, contact the attorneys at Pendleton Law. Sexual abuse claims are traumatic events in any victim’s life and the recreation of the event during the claim process will undoubtedly cause extreme emotional distress. ,
Our Richmond sexual abuse lawyers will take most of the work and pressure from you so that you can focus on your recovery. A civil sexual abuse claim will serve to bring you justice and compensation, rather than only punishing the defendant. Call us today for a free initial consultation.
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