| Read Time: 4 minutes | Sexual Abuse

How to Support Someone Who Has Been Sexually Assaulted

The Me Too movement has sparked a wave of sexual assault victims coming forward to share their stories. The number of individuals who continue to recount their experiences is a testament to their bravery, but it also raises questions of how to best support someone who confides in you. In the United States, one in six women have experienced some form of sexual assault. This amounts to, on average, 463,634 new sexual assault victims every year. This means everyone knows a survivor, and it is important to be prepared to support someone who has been sexually assaulted.  When determining how to support someone who has been sexually assaulted, there a few things not to do. These words and actions include: Doubting their story, Blaming them, and Forcing them to share their experience before they are ready. If you’re reading this post, you want to help your loved one through an extremely challenging part of their life. To support someone who has been sexually assaulted, be patient, be compassionate, and let them take steps toward recovering on their terms. Encourage Them to Seek Professional Help If someone comes to you right after they are sexually assaulted, the best thing you can do is take them to a hospital. Sexual assault victims are a priority at hospitals and are often treated very quickly. Medical providers like hospital staff know how to collect evidence and treat injuries incurred during the assault. Hospitals are also equipped with sexual assault trauma counselors who can provide guidance and advice to victims. Of course, your loved one might object to going to the hospital. They also might object to calling the police, but you should gently encourage them to do so. Filing a police report is the first step in holding a sexual assaulter liable for their actions. Having a police report on record can also help with obtaining a restraining order if that becomes necessary. While getting professional help is highly encouraged for sexual assault victims, it is important that you not push your loved one to seek these services if they don’t want to. Remember, this person has just been forced to do something against their will. The last thing they need is someone else making them do something that they don’t want to. Listen, Don’t Speak It is natural to want to launch into a series of questions when someone tells you they have been sexually assaulted. Who did it? When did it happen? What did they do? However, this interrogation-style inquisition is likely not helpful to your loved one. They are confiding in you because they have decided they want to talk to you about what happened to them. They are capable of deciding what and how much to share. By allowing them to have this control over the conversation, you are empowering them to begin rebuilding their confidence and self-esteem. Let your loved one tell you the information they are comfortable sharing. Once they have finished, you can ask, What can I do? Sometimes a sexual assault victim just needs to get the experience out into the open. Other times, they might look to you for recommendations or other guidance or support. It is important that you honor their answer to your question and not push them to do more than they’ve asked.  Encourage Them to Seek Counseling As a family member, friend, or colleague, it is your job to be there for your loved one. However, it is important for you to remember that you are not a licensed counselor, nor is it your job to be one. After they have gone through the initial process of opening up to you, you should encourage your loved one to talk to a professional counselor. A counselor can help victims of sexual assault process what happened to them and their emotions surrounding the encounter. Counselors can also refer their patients to other medical services or other resources. Help Them Find an Attorney to File Legal Action Depending on how your loved one wants to proceed, you can help them file legal action against their assailant. If they want to pursue charges, it is very important that any evidence from the sexual assault be preserved.  Once you have filed a police report, the victim should obtain legal representation. Some attorneys specialize in sexual assault victim litigation. The team at Silvia Injury Law is equipped to handle your loved one’s case with respect, care, and professionalism.  The legal process takes time. A lawyer can help your loved one understand and navigate the process, so they can focus on healing. Refer Them to Resources Even if your loved one does not want to seek professional help or pursue legal remedies, you can still offer them resources for sexual assault survivors. These resources are well-established as a great way to support someone who has been sexuallly assaulted. They include: RAINN, National Domestic Violence Hotline, and California Attorney General’s office. When someone chooses to open up to you about their sexual assault story, it is important that you know how to support someone who has been sexually asssaulted. By encouraging them to go to the hospital, file a police report, retain a personal injury attorney, and consult with a counselor, you are participating in their recovery.  If you ever find yourself overwhelmed when trying to help your loved one, that is okay. Refer them to one of the resources listed above and take care of your own mental health.  We Are Here to Help At Silva Injury Law, we are here to help. Whether your loved one is ready to seek the assistance of an attorney or they just want to understand their options, we can answer any questions. We have extensive experience helping sexual assault victims. We put the needs of our clients first, and our compassionate, personalized approach is what sets us apart. Call or contact us online today to learn more.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Sexual Abuse

Sexual Abuse Resources in California

Unfortunately, sexual abuse occurs all too often in today’s society. In the wake of sexual abuse allegations, you might decide to pursue criminal charges against your assailant. Many victims struggle with the idea of confronting their attacker in open court or fear retaliation after reporting the identity of the perpetrator to law enforcement. Even if you decide to file charges against your attacker, that doesn’t necessarily mean he or she will receive a guilty verdict and face time behind bars. The outcome of criminal cases rest in the hands of the jury or the judge in the event the case goes all the way to trial. However, many people don’t realize that other ways exist to hold the perpetrator accountable for their actions. One way involves bringing a sexual abuse civil lawsuit against the perpetrator for damages incurred as a result of the abuse.  If you or a loved one suffered from sexual abuse or harassment, contact one of our sexual abuse attorneys at Silva Injury Law to start your free consultation. What Forms of Sexual Abuse Authorize a Civil Lawsuit? When people discuss civil lawsuits surrounding sexual abuse allegations, most think about serious crimes like rape or attempted rape. However, many other sex crimes victims qualify to bring a civil lawsuit as well. The term “sexual abuse” covers crimes including: Rape, Attempted rape, Sexual assault, Sexual battery, Statutory rape, Sexual bullying, and Sexual harassment in the workplace. Crimes like prostitution, human trafficking, and possession of child pornography can also give rise to a sexual assault civil lawsuit. Who Can File a Sexual Abuse Civil Lawsuit? Obviously, the victim of the sexual abuse can file a civil lawsuit against the attacker. However, California allows family members of the victim to sue for damages if they meet one of the following requirements: The sexual assault/abuse resulted in the victim’s death; The family member witnessed the assault/abuse; or The assault/abuse resulted in a loss of moral support, intimacy, or companionship to a spouse or domestic partner of the victim. If the family member satisfies one or more of these requirements, he or she may bring a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator of the crime.  California’s Sexual Abuse Resources If you or a loved one suffered or are suffering from sexual abuse, know that you’re not alone. Sexual abuse resources in California can help you escape your dangerous situation or obtain counseling for your trauma. Some of these resources include: The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or visit thehotline.org. The National Teen Dating Helpline at 1-866-331-9474 or visit loveisrespect.org. National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit rainn.org. When Everyone Acts Violence Ends (W.E.A.V.E.) at 1-866-920-2952 or visit weaveinc.org. The California Victim Compensation Program at 1-800-777-9229 or visit victims.ca.gov/for-victims/. Once you feel secure and safe, consider reaching out to a sexual abuse attorney to get your civil case started. What Should I Do If I’m Sexually Assaulted? We understand that the moments following a sexual assault are overwhelming and often devastating. Here are some steps you can take from the beginning to preserve valuable information about the incident and increase your chance of recovering civil damages. Get Medical Attention Even if you didn’t suffer any obvious injuries, you should seek medical attention immediately. A lot of times, the physical evidence of sexual abuse disappears quickly if steps aren’t taken to preserve it. Give the medical professional details about the attack, even if it feels uncomfortable. Medical professionals are trained to assist individuals dealing with sex crimes and can offer specialized treatment to preserve evidence of the attack. Report the Abuse We understand that reporting the sexual abuse might be the most difficult step you have to take. However, it’s crucial to document what happened. Try to provide as much information as you can remember. Additionally, you could receive guidance on California’s sexual abuse resources  when you make the report. Collect Evidence from the Attack Even if you’re unable to report the abuse right away, keep any physical evidence you have that is relevant to the attack. This could include text messages, the clothing you were wearing, or statements from your attacker after the fact. Having this evidence can mean the difference between being able to prove your sexual abuse civil claim and having your case thrown out. Contact a Sexual Abuse Attorney  Sexual abuse civil lawsuits can help you recover compensation for any suffering caused as a result of the sexual abuse you endured. However, you have to prove several factors and demonstrate the monetary value of the harm you suffered. Our sexual abuse attorneys at Silva Injury Law can help you file your claim and determine what damages you’re entitled to.  Victim of Sexual Assault or Abuse in California? Contact Silva Injury Law Today Many victims of sexual assault or abuse feel like the incident was all their fault. At Silva Injury Law, we know that’s not the case. Your attacker bears total responsibility for the harm you endured, not you. We realize that many victims of sexual abuse suffer serious psychological trauma after their attack, and we are ready to provide whatever support you need. Our team of sexual abuse attorneys will aggressively pursue the party responsible for your sexual abuse so they pay for the suffering that you endured.  We believe that our duty goes beyond achieving large monetary awards for our clients. We strive first to be decent human beings who seek not to stir up fights but to solve problems. We know that winning a civil settlement won’t take away the pain and heartache you went through, but it can be a step in the right direction. At Silva Injury Law, our compassionate approach is what sets us apart. Contact our office today to find out for yourself.

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