According to the American Psychological Association (APA), sexual abuse is defined as “unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators using force, making threats or taking advantage of victims not able to give consent.”
While some victims do not know their abuser, most victims know their perpetrators, according to the APA. When victims are sexually abused, the immediate reactions generally include feelings of fear, shock, or disbelief. The long-term effects of sexual abuse are well-documented, and often include anxiety, fear, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
In the United States, one of the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organizations is Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). According to RAINN:
- Every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted
- 9 out of every 10 rape victims are female
- 55% of sexual assaults occur in or near the victim’s residence
- In the U.S., 1 out of 6 women are sexually assaulted
- Most victims of child sexual abuse are between the ages of 12 and 17
- 66% of sexual assault victims are children between 12 and 17
- Each year, about 321,500 Americans age 12 and older are victims of sexual assault
Can sexual assault victims file a lawsuit?
We want to mention that sexual assault is illegal in all states, and Florida is no exception. In Florida, sexual abuse or sexual assault is criminalized under Sec. 794.011 of the Florida Statutes, sexual battery. While the penalties vary depending on the age of the perpetrator and the victim, sexual battery is commonly prosecuted as a felony in Florida.
If a sexual abuser is imprisoned for their crime, does that mean that a victim cannot file a lawsuit? No, on the contrary, in many cases a victim of sexual abuse or “sexual battery” can file a sexual abuse lawsuit, even if the perpetrator is facing criminal charges or already sitting in jail or prison.
What if the abuser is not wealthy? How can a victim file a sexual abuse lawsuit? In many sexual abuse cases, the victim can file a lawsuit against a liable third party, it all depends on the facts of the case.
For example, if a convenience store clerk was raped late at night in the store’s restroom while she was working, she may be able to file a claim with the property owner’s insurance carrier.
Or, if a teenager had a sexual relationship with her teacher, her family may be able to file a lawsuit against the school that employs the teacher. On the other hand, if a young woman was raped in a grocery store parking lot, she may be able to file a lawsuit against the grocery store for inadequate security – you get the picture.
If you, or someone you love is a victim of sexual abuse (sexual assault, sexual battery, rape, etc.) in West Palm Beach, and it occurred on private or public property, we urge you to contact the Law offices of Craig Goldenfarb, P.A. to discuss your case for free.
We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – give us a call today to discuss filing a claim for compensation!