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Watsonville Sexual Abuse Lawyers

sexual assault lawyer

Sexual harassment and sexual assault are horrific crimes that are often underreported. These attacks can occur anywhere, even in your own home or workplace. While the government may file criminal charges against the perpetrator, many victims do not realize they have a right to pursue a civil case. If you are the victim of a sexual assault in California, the experienced Watsonville sexual abuse attorneys at Silva Injury Law can help. Contact us today.

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What Is Considered Sexual Assault?

Many people mistakenly assume that a sexual assault is a rape or attempted rape. However, it is any non-consensual or unwanted sexual act. It could involve coercing, forcing, intimidating, or pressuring someone into doing some sexual activity that they do not want. Perpetrators aren’t limited to people you don’t know either. Spouses, friends, and family members can also be guilty of sexual assault.

Examples of a sexual assault include:

  • Kissing someone without their consent;
  • Unwanted violent sexual activity;
  • Molestation;
  • Unwanted sexual touching;
  • Having sexual contact with someone who is unconscious, on drugs, or under the influence of alcohol;
  • Statutory rape; or
  • Attempted rape or rape.

Acts of sexual violence can occur with both adults and children. It doesn’t have to involve physical touching, either. Indecent exposure or sexual harassment can also give rise to a civil lawsuit.  

California Laws on Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse

Sexual assault and sexual abuse are often used interchangeably, but they can have a slightly different meaning under California law. Sexual abuse often refers to acts of repetitive or ongoing sexual assault, usually against children. California Penal Code Section 243.4 defines sexual assault as the crime of touching someone’s intimate parts, while the victim is restrained against their will, and the action is done for sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse of the victim.

Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault

California legislation has undergone significant changes in recent years regarding the statute of limitations for sexual abuse and sexual assault. However, it’s still essential to speak with our experienced Watsonville sexual abuse attorneys to verify the proper filing date.

Assembly Bill 218

California voted to approve Assembly Bill 218 in 2019 to protect childhood sexual assault victims. The government realized that childhood victims of sexual assault may not realize the full extent of their abuse for years, sometimes decades. That means the statute of limitations has long since expired. Previously, victims of childhood sexual abuse had only until their 26th birthday to file a lawsuit. As of January 2020, victims of childhood sexual assault now have an additional 14 years. If they discover the abuse as an adult, they may have additional time.

Assembly Bill 1619 and 1510

The California State Assembly passed Assembly Bill 1619 in 2018 to address many of the claims coming out as part of the #metoo movement. It extended the statute of limitations on sexual assault claims from three years to ten years. Victims also have up to three years to file after discovering an assault.

However, many affected victims were still barred from filing, such as victims of Dr. George Tyndall. Tyndall was a USC physicia who committed sexual assault on nearly 400 female students over 27 years. Assembly Bill 1510 contains special provisions for victims of sexual assault by a physician occurring at a student health center between January 1, 1988, and January 1, 2017. If your sexual assault falls under these parameters, it’s crucial to contact our Watsonville sexual abuse lawyers right away.

Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse

There isn’t necessarily one non-physical sign that points to sexual abuse right away. However, if you notice multiple signs, it’s time to start asking questions and seeking help. It’s important to remember that some of these same signs can appear during extreme stress, such as a family member’s death, parents’ divorce, traumatic event, etc. Potential warning signs of sexual abuse in a child or adolescent include:

  • Sleep problems or repeated nightmares with no explanation;
  • Sudden change in eating habits, such as refusing to eat, losing appetite, or having problems swallowing food;
  • Considering their body to be bad, repulsive, or dirty;
  • Sudden mood swings, such as fear, withdrawal, rage, or insecurity;
  • Starting to draw, write, or dream of sexual images;
  • Receiving money, gifts, or toys from someone without explanation;
  • Starting to exhibit adult-like sexual knowledge, behaviors, and language; and
  • Suddenly having a new older friend they talk about.

Adolescents may also exhibit different signs, such as self-harm, sexual promiscuity, depression and attempted suicide, alcohol or drug abuse, and more.

Younger children may start mimicking adult sexual behaviors with their stuffed animals or toys, using new words for private body parts, bed-wetting (unrelated to potty training), resisting taking off clothes for bedtime or bath time, etc.

Physical warning signs of sexual abuse are not necessarily that easy to spot. Try to look for discoloration, pain, discharge, or pain in the child’s mouth, genitals, or anus. Do they have recurring pain while urinating or having a bowel movement? If you spot any of these red flags, take your child to a trusted physician right away.

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Promoting Healing Through Compassionate Advocacy

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.

As a peacemaker, the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be enough business.

- Abraham Lincoln

Contact Our Watsonville Sexual Abuse Attorneys

If you are the victim of a sexual assault or suspect someone is sexually abusing your child, it’s important to seek help right away. You should also contact our skilled Watsonville sexual abuse attorneys. Our compassionate legal team has years of experience with these types of matters. We can help you pursue a claim for compensation and work tirelessly to ensure the perpetrator is held accountable for their actions.

Contact our office today to schedule a consultation. We know that compensation won’t make the horror or pain you experienced disappear. However, fighting to hold the responsible party accountable can help your healing process.

Our experienced legal team also handles other types of personal injury cases, including: