The physical and psychological consequences of sexual abuse can last a lifetime. Children who are sexually abused often suffer complex and devastating long-term effects well into adulthood. Chronic pain, severe depression, anxiety, and inability to have lasting relationships are just a few obstacles sexual abuse victims face.
There are many misconceptions regarding sexual abuse. The most important thing to remember is that sexual abuse is never the victim’s fault. If your child was a victim of sexual abuse, the best thing you can do is create a safe, judgment-free environment for them to express anger, grief, sadness, and any other emotion they may be feeling. As they process what they’ve been through, make sure your messaging is clear, both in words and actions: they are loved; what happened to them is not their fault, and you will do everything you can to keep them safe.
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The Regan Zambri Long sexual abuse lawyers are here to walk beside you through this extremely difficult journey.
Our personal injury attorneys understand the delicate nature of sexual abuse cases and will work to maintain your child’s privacy. You can rest assured your family will be treated with the utmost compassion and respect. Below are a sample of some of the verdicts and settlements we have achieved on behalf of our clients.
The Regan Zambri Long attorneys know that seeing justice served can be a step toward healing for a sexual abuse victim – it is exactly why they practice law.
Contact Regan Zambri Long PLLC today for a free consultation to discuss your legal options that will help your child close this chapter and move forward with their life.
Though there are several warning signs that a child is being abused, they are not always clearly seen or understood. Gut instincts are real and you should trust them. If you see any of the following signs and suspect abuse, the best thing you can do is talk to your child and continue to look for these warning signs:
The terms sexual assault and sexual abuse are often used interchangeably when describing sexual misconduct of any kind. However, while sexual assault is most closely connected with sexual violence committed against adults, sexual abuse is sexual violence committed against children. We will refer to sexual abuse as sexual crimes committed against children and lay out what their parents can do to prevent, detect, and defend their loved ones from sexual abuse.
The age of consent is the minimum age at which an individual is considered legally old enough to consent to participation in sexual activity. In Washington DC, the age of consent is 16 years old. According to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, adolescents who are sexually active at a young age were more likely to be coerced into sexual intercourse. Almost 60% of women who had sex before the age of 15 reported having a forced sexual experience.
About 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys experience child sexual abuse across the United States, mostly by someone the child knows. The national financial burden of child sexual abuse was at least $9.3 billion in 2015 alone. Costs include health care, child welfare, violence/crime, special education, productivity loss, and suicide death costs. If your child is a sexual abuse victim, then you understand the financial stress sexual abuse can cause a family. Medical visits, hospital stays, psychological evaluations, and therapy are extremely expensive. The Regan Zambri Long sexual abuse lawyers will work to recover the maximum financial compensation for your child so you can focus on recovery rather than crippling expenses.
Chapter 30 of the Code of the District of Columbia breaks down the four separate degrees of child sexual abuse laws and their consequences:
If an adult engages in sexual activity with a minor (a child who is 15 years old or younger) that is considered statutory rape. In Washington DC, statutory rape can result in a first or second-degree felony conviction. If the perpetrator is found guilty of first-degree statutory rape, it can result in lifetime imprisonment.
Misdemeanor offenses committed against children have less severe consequences than first or second-degree felonies. A misdemeanor child sexual abuse charge can include touching a child inside their clothing, touching a child anywhere near genitalia, breast, or buttocks, or forcing or coercing a child to touch their own genitalia. A misdemeanor child sex offense can result in up to 180 days in jail and a legal fine.
A longstanding myth about sexual abuse is that it is largely committed in a surprise, violent attack by a complete stranger. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The unfortunate reality is that most sexual abuse victims know their abuser. 59% are acquaintances and 34% are family members.
In 2017, over 400 daycare workers were found to be sexually abusing children. Children in the foster care system are four times more likely to be sexually abused than children who are not in the system. Schools, sports, and churches are likely places for child predators, so it is essential for parents and guardians to be on the lookout. The best thing a parent can do is talk to your child, know who their coaches, teachers, and friends are, and trust your instincts.
Symptoms from child sexual abuse can manifest differently in every victim. However, a common thread is that children often carry these scars into adulthood. Adult manifestations of child sexual abuse include:
RAINN outlines several warning signs that adult sexual predators display with a child they are victimizing. They include, but are not limited to:
If you see these warning signs and are uneasy with the adult’s behavior toward the child, it is important to take action immediately. This is not always an easy decision – many times the perpetrators are members of our own families. However, in order to protect the child, drastic actions must sometimes be taken. The best thing you can do is talk to your child and give your child a safe space to talk to you about what is going on.
There are many reasons why a child fails to report sexual abuse to a trusted adult. In some cases, the child doesn’t understand why what happened to them is wrong. In other cases, they simply don’t have the language to tell an adult about the abuse. Children are taught to respect authority figures and adults around them. Explanation of boundaries and limits to obedience are not always fully explained.
If you suspect your child has suffered sexual abuse, it is essential for you to create a safe, blame-free environment for them to discuss what happened. If your child discloses sexual abuse, the following responses may be helpful:
The United States Department of Justice defines rape as the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
The DOJ’s definition of sexual assault is more broad, stating “sexual assault means any nonconsenual sexual act proscribed by Federal, tribal, or State law, including when the victim lacks the capacity to consent.”
Though there is no foolproof way to prevent sexual abuse, the following tips can help your child understand body safety:
There are two different legal courses you can take following sexual abuse. The first is a criminal case. Criminal cases are brought when the child sexual abuse is reported to the police and a DC prosecutor decides bring charges against the abuser. Convictions are often extremely difficult to get in criminal cases because of the high standard of proof. The prosecution must prove that the abuse happened beyond a reasonable doubt.
The second course of action that can be taken is a civil suit. This is when the sexual abuse victim can sue their abuser. While criminal cases can result in punishment for the attacker, civil cases can provide financial compensation to the victim. The damages collected in a civil suit can help with medical bills, therapy, and pain and suffering. Speak to a Regan Zambri Long sexual abuse lawyer today to discuss your legal options and what is best for your child and your family.