Why Is It so Important to Be Alert to Behavioral Indicators of Sexual Abuse?

July 22, 2020 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Why Is It so Important to Be Alert to Behavioral Indicators of Sexual Abuse?

Keeping an Eye Out for Signs of Sexual Abuse

The very thought of sexual abuse is so disturbing that it may falsely lead you to believe it cannot happen to someone you love. A failure to remain alert to indicators of possible sexual abuse may lead to prolonged suffering for your loved one. Sexual abuse in any form and against victims of any age is not only illegal, it can result in great emotional, physical, and financial stress. If you or a close loved one is the victim of sexual abuse, a sexual abuse lawyer can help you pursue justice and possible compensation.

Sexual Abuse is Real

According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), every 73 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. Every nine minutes, the victim is a child. RAINN also reports that the vast majority of sexual abuse perpetrators are less likely to go to jail than other criminals. Of 1,000 sexual assaults, RAINN estimates that 995 perpetrators will go free. Regardless of any action by the criminal court system, you may have the right to pursue a civil case against the party responsible for the abuse. These statistics are alarming and provide a portrayal of why it is so important to be alert to behavioral indicators of sexual abuse. The first step toward identifying the sexual abuse of your loved one is to understand what sexual abuse is and the different types of abuse.

Types of Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is non-consensual sexual interaction. From victims ranging in age from young children to the elderly, sexual abuse includes many forms and types:
  • Unwanted touching or fondling of any kind, especially in the areas of breasts and genitals
  • Rape, oral, or anal sex
  • Taking explicit pictures for sharing with others, either online or in-person
  • Forced nudity
  • Forced viewing of pornography
These are just a few examples of the types of actions classified as sexual abuse. This form of abuse does not have to involve physical contact to seriously affect the behavior and emotions of victims. Sexual abuse is often caused by someone close to the victim. Family members, teachers, or caregivers are examples of the types of people who may violate a victim's trust in this way.
  • Ninety-three percent of children who suffered sexual abuse knew their victim.
  • Fifty-nine percent were acquaintances.
  • Thirty-four percent were family members.
  • Seven percent were strangers.
Volunteers, clergy, or civil organization leaders can also violate a child entrusted to their care. No matter who committed the abuse, learning about it can devastate you and your family. If you noticed significant behavioral changes in your child, only to discover sexual abuse, take immediate action. Report the abuse, seek medical treatment, and contact a sexual abuse attorney without delay.

Signs of Possible Sexual Abuse

If your loved one exhibits changes in their behavior or their emotions, these changes may signal sexual abuse. Knowing what signs and symptoms to watch for is imperative for seeking the help they need, and for reporting the abuse. By remaining alert to these behavioral indicators of possible sexual abuse, you can take action sooner rather than later:
  • Anxiety;
  • Depression;
  • Withdrawn behavior;
  • Nightmares;
  • A desire to not be left alone; or
  • Angry outbursts.
For children, knowledge about sexual acts and activity that seem inappropriate for their age is often a common sign. When it comes to the elderly, expressions of fear around certain caregivers can be a sign of sexual abuse. These particular types of behavioral indicators are easy to overlook, yet imperative to note. Victims of sexual abuse are often reluctant to report the abuse due to fear of retaliation. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, as many as 63 percent of sexual assaults go unreported to the police. Survivors only report 12 percent of child sexual abuse to authorities. These alarming statistics demonstrate the need for alertness when it comes to changes in your loved one's behavior and the cause behind it. Without action, children who suffer sexual abuse are:
  • Nearly 4 times more likely to develop symptoms of drug abuse.
  • Nearly 4 times more likely to develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as adults.
  • Nearly 3 times more likely to experience a major depressive episode as adults.
The long-term effects of sexual abuse on adult victims are also troubling. The abuse can affect their relationships and careers. Consider the following statistics from RAINN:
  • Approximately 37 percent of victims found it increasingly difficult to trust family or friends.
  • Nearly 84 percent of survivors experienced difficulty with relationships and at work due to emotional issues.
The behavioral changes in your loved one may signal something more serious than just a bad day. If your typically happy loved one acts depressed or starts exhibiting signs of anger and anxiety, dig deeper to discover why. The new behavior may represent a cry for help.

Potentially Recoverable Sexual Abuse Damages

If the perpetrator who sexually abused your loved one faces criminal charges for their actions, you may still file a civil case. Any criminal case related to the sexual abuse of your loved one has no bearing on a sexual abuse lawsuit. While each case is different, you or your loved one may be entitled to the following types of damages:
  • Medical costs for any physical harm.
  • Ongoing medical costs, like that of therapy and counseling.
  • Pain and suffering.
Sexual abuse can cause great mental anguish for victims and their families. No amount of money can compensate for the loss of innocence or the sense of fear that many victims experience. It can, however, compensate you or your family in other meaningful ways. Pursuing possible financial compensation can help ease any financial stress you experience during this difficult time. It could also serve as a form of justice for you and your loved one. And perhaps most importantly, it may stop the same abuse from happening to someone else.

Why You Should Consider a Sexual Abuse Lawyer

From large nonprofit organizations for children to for-profit nursing homes, sexual abuse is never okay. Organizations and corporations may attempt to hide behind their insurance companies. To protect them, insurance companies may offer victims a settlement that is less than they deserve. Insurance companies generally want to protect their best interests and the best interests of their clients. Their primary goal is often to settle your claim as quickly and as quietly as possible. They may also try to settle your claim for the least amount of money possible. You should refuse their offer and consider hiring legal representation instead. Most sexual abuse lawyers are well-versed in the strategies that many insurance companies use to try to avoid paying abuse victims the compensation they deserve. While most sexual abuse cases are often settled out of court, sometimes going to trial is necessary. A sexual abuse lawyer can help you try to secure the best possible outcome of your case. The sexual abuse you or your loved one endured demands your full attention for healing and rest. Sexual abuse of a loved one, whether it is a child or an elderly family member, can be highly emotional. Securing the services of a sexual abuse lawyer takes the details of the case out of your hands and off your shoulders. As lawyers who protect victim's rights, sexual abuse lawyers understand how sensitive the topic of sexual abuse can be for victims. This is why they treat their clients with the utmost respect and compassion. Their commitment to securing the best outcome possible for your case never wavers, and they stand firm against aggressive insurance companies. To begin the civil process for your case, contact an attorney as soon as possible. The statute of limitations is a key factor in filing your lawsuit, and it is one of the top reasons securing legal representation can help your case.

The Statute of Limitations For Sexual Abuse Claims

A sexual abuse lawyer understands how to navigate the statute of limitations regarding civil cases. This can be vital for your sexual abuse case due to the unique exceptions for cases involving sexual abuse. Under Florida law, the following rules apply:
  • There is no civil statute of limitations for claims involving felony child sexual battery offenses. This applies to cases where the victim was under the age of 16.
  • For other child sex abuse-related claims, the statute of limitations is capped at the age of 25. This rule applies to victims who suffered abuse at the age of 16 and 17.
  • A sexual abuse victim may file civil litigation up to four years from the discovery of the connection between their injury and the abuser.
Despite the extended limitations for filing civil action regarding your sexual abuse cases, you must act quickly. Once any statute of limitations expires, you may permanently lose your opportunity for possible compensation. The complex nature of sexual abuse cases and the statute of limitations is why seeking legal representation is a smart idea. The sooner a sexual abuse lawyer can review your case, the sooner they can get to work for you.

Remain Calm When Dealing With Sexual Abuse

Learning of the sexual abuse of your loved one—whether it is your child or your elderly parent—can be extremely upsetting. You may want to confront the person responsible for the harm of your loved one. It is extremely important for your civil case that you remain calm and let a sexual abuse lawyer handle your case. Knowing that someone is representing your loved one's best interests can allow you more time to focus on your loved one. The right sexual abuse lawyer for your case will keep you informed throughout the process. From updates regarding your case to treating you with care and compassion, a sexual abuse lawyer could be on your side. Learning important behavioral clues regarding possible sexual abuse is an important first step to helping your loved one. Remaining calm throughout the legal process is important when seeking justice.

Do Not Hesitate; Seek Legal Representation Now

Debating whether you can afford a lawyer may cost you precious time from filing your case. Sexual abuse lawyers typically work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they collect their fee from winnings you receive in your case.
Matthew A. Dolman Esq.
Matthew Dolman Personal Injury Lawyer
The injustice you or a loved one experienced due to another person is why you cannot afford to not seek legal representation. Sexual abuse lawyers are here to help those injured by the actions of others. Seeking the assistance of a sexual abuse lawyer is a great way to pursue compensation and to hold those responsible for your harm accountable for their actions. A free case evaluation is typically the norm with many sexual abuse law groups. This leaves you with nothing to lose. Reach out to an attorney today to learn more about your legal options. The behavioral changes in your loved one may serve as an important red flag to a serious problem. Investing time into determining the root of the problem behind the angry outbursts or depression can be vital in helping your loved one. Suffering from sexual abuse alone is a heavy burden to carry. Once you can convince your loved one to open up to you or someone else, the road to healing can begin. Civil cases take time, something that is not on your side. Time passes quickly and before you know it, the deadline for filing your case may expire. The heartbreak of learning your loved one experienced sexual abuse can send your thoughts reeling. Despite feeling overwhelmed by the situation, seeking a free case evaluation from a sexual abuse lawyer can be imperative as a next step moving forward. Behavioral indicators are important signals regarding possible sexual abuse. Pay attention to what your loved one is telling you through their actions and words. Shouting, crying, or withdrawing are often alerts that are, in fact, pleas for help. Seek immediate medical attention for your loved one, report the abuse, and consider reaching out to a sexual abuse lawyer without delay. Contact us today to schedule your confidential, free, and no-obligation consultation. You can reach Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA online, in the chat box below, or by phone at 727-451-6900.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road< Clearwater, FL 33765 (727) 451-6900


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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