Victims of child sexual abuse are entitled to just compensation for the injuries they suffered. But what is “just compensation” and what does it do? What other changes might a lawsuit bring about? Attorney Paul Mones takes a closer look at how legal action can reimburse victims and end the cycle of abuse.
Victims of child sexual abuse will typically endure years and possibly a lifetime of harmful consequences stemming from their experiences. Some of these are physical, but the vast majority are psychological, emotional, and behavioral. Among the most common problems that abuse survivors – children and adults- encounter are:
- Anxiety, Shame, Confusion, and Fear
- Eating disorders
- Personality disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Drug and alcohol addiction
- Suicide attempts and other self-harm
- Multiple sexual partners
- Difficulty with sexual intimacy and forming relationships
Many problems, and others, are observed in children. For example, a child who has been sexually abused is more likely to run away from home, perform poorly in school, and withdraw from social situations he or she once loved. But the issues listed above are likely to last well into adulthood.
Victims who suffer from these problems often experience a decreased quality of life that touches on everything from their career prospects to their social and family relationships. Medical and mental health treatment can help address these issues and go a long way in repairing much of the damage. However, these services aren’t cheap. That’s where monetary compensation comes in.
Working with an experienced legal advocate, child sexual abuse victims can demand compensation from their abusers (along with the institutions and organizations that facilitated it) which can cover the following:
- Medical treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and infections and other physical trauma
- Psychiatric treatment, therapy, and mental health counseling
- Hospitalization and other medical services in the event of a suicide attempt
- Prescription medications to treat anxiety and depression
- Rehabilitation for drug and alcohol abuse
Keep in mind that many victims need these and other services for years, and perhaps even for the rest of their lives. Having the right attorney on your side means having someone who knows the cost of these programs both now and in the future. It also means having an aggressive lawyer who can take on powerful and well-financed organizations that have repeatedly turned a blind eye to sexual abuse, such as the Boy Scouts and Catholic Church. Holding those institutions responsible doesn’t end with monetary compensation.
Changes To Institutions
Following widely reported sexual abuse scandals in a number of different organizations, reforms were put into place to address problems that many advocates believed had allowed (or aggravated) the abuse. For instance, the Catholic Church has made a series of changes in the two decades since abuse claims were broadly publicized in the United States and elsewhere.
Some changes had already been implemented in local churches and dioceses but were formalized later by the Vatican. For example, in the United States, Catholic officials were already required to comply with legal obligations to report suspicions of sexual abuse. But in late 2019, Pope Francis ordered these practices as universal church law.
Other changes had been demanded for a number of years, such as abolishing pontifical secrecy. Victims’ advocates had argued that the secrecy rule was unnecessary and only allowed abusive priests (and those who looked the other way) to hide behind it rather than cooperate with authorities.
It’s important, however, that advocates not let up on their efforts to force organizations to adopt – and enforce – policies that can prevent abuse. Many have pointed out that some of these reforms don’t go far enough, or don’t have clear enforcement mechanisms that will give them the necessary teeth to stop and expose sexual predators. Others have criticized institutions for being vague about the measures they intend to implement. Vigilance and continued pressure will be key.
Changes To Laws
California, in particular, has been a leader in legislative reform aimed at preventing child sexual abuse and bringing the responsible parties to justice. For example, in October 2019, California enacted Assembly Bill 218. The law gives victims a three-year window, that began on January 1, 2020, to bring sexual abuse claims, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. The statute of limitations for all California sexual abuse cases was also expanded to give victims more time to file claims. Another change includes expanded mandatory reporting requirements that obligate certain professionals in California to notify authorities of suspected abuse.
But more reforms are needed. The CDC has recommended additional efforts to prevent child sexual abuse that include:
- Improved surveillance systems and data collection to monitor child sexual abuse
- Increased studying and understanding of risk and protective factors for child sexual abuse perpetration and victimization
- Stronger evidence-based policies, programs, and practices aimed at the prevention of child sexual abuse
- Increased dissemination and implementation of evidence-based strategies for child sexual abuse prevention
We’re Working On Behalf Of Victims
Our firm is dedicated to obtain fair and just compensation for victims of child sexual abuse victims so they can get their lives back on track. But we’re also mindful of the many other ways that society is changing to prevent abuse and hold abusers accountable. If you or a loved one were sexually abused as a child, let us discuss your legal options with you. Call today to find out more.