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What Is Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse is a heinous crime that can affect both children and adults. It refers to any unwanted sexual activity, often with the instigator using force or threatening the victim. The emotional and psychological impacts of sexual abuse can haunt a survivor for years after the incident. If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual abuse in Virginia, help is available. You do not have to suffer in silence. Learning more about sexual abuse with the help of a Richmond sexual abuse lawyer could help you determine whether you are a survivor. It can also help you understand your rights and how to come forward.

Sexual Abuse Laws in Virginia

Sexual abuse is against the law in the state of Virginia. Committing this crime could come with serious penalties and repercussions that follow the perpetrator for life, such as mandatory registration on the National Sex Offender List. This could make it more difficult to find housing or a job. Title 18.2 of Article 7 of the Code of Virginia contains the state’s criminal sexual assault laws. It includes a long list of crimes that fall under the category of criminal sexual assault in Virginia.

  • Attempted rape or sodomy
  • Carnal knowledge
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Object sexual penetration
  • Rape
  • Sexual battery
  • Sodomy

Carnal knowledge can refer to sexual intercourse, fellatio or object sexual penetration. Carnal knowledge with certain protected classes qualifies as sexual abuse with or without the individual’s consent. Carnal knowledge of children ages 13 to 15, minors in the juvenile justice system, inmates, parolees, probationers or detainees is against the law. Committing criminal sexual assault in Virginia can lead to punishments such as one year up to life in prison, thousands of dollars in fines, community service, restitution payments, probation, and mandatory sex offender registry.

Are You a Sexual Abuse Survivor?

If someone in Virginia forced you to commit, engage in or watch sexual acts without your consent, you have experienced criminal sexual assault. If you were a child and someone engaged you in sexual activities, you are also a survivor – even if you gave your consent or did not say no. Protected classes such as inmates, students and members of a church may also have grounds for sexual abuse claims against people in positions of power, even if they gave their consent to the activity. Virginia statutes may still qualify the act as abuse. Consult with an attorney about your specific circumstances if you are not sure whether you suffered sexual abuse or assault.

Civil Damages for Sexual Abuse

If you are a sexual abuse survivor, the civil justice system may grant you financial compensation from the perpetrator and/or other parties. The civil system enables people with economic and noneconomic injuries to bring claims against the parties that negligently or intentionally caused their damages. Sexual abuse may be a crime, but it is also civil wrongdoing that could give you grounds to file a lawsuit. Civil claims can reimburse a plaintiff, while a criminal case aims to punish the defendant. The sex offender or a vicariously liable party such as a school, church or employer could owe you compensation for your damages.

  • Past and future medical expenses, including the costs of therapies and prescription medications
  • Court costs, filing fees, and attorney’s fees
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional or mental anguish from sexual abuse
  • Psychological distress/post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Lost enjoyment or quality of life
  • Lost wages from staying home from work
  • Punitive or exemplary damages

In Virginia, a statute of limitations places a cap on how long you have to file a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse or assault. For a childhood sexual abuse case, you have 20 years from your 18th birthday or from when a doctor linked a condition to childhood abuse (whichever is later). If you were an adult who suffered sexual abuse, however, you only have two years from the date of the incident to file. A sexual abuse attorney in Virginia can help you protect your rights, file on time and fight for justice. Contact Pendleton Law today.