Few things horrify parents more than the thought of their children being sexually abused or assaulted. It is one of the most challenging types of criminal cases to prosecute, but you can sue the offender and any organization that shielded them in civil court with more success.
Nessler & Associates has extensive experience helping victims of child sexual abuse and assault recover, even after the statute of limitations has run out. We will investigate your case in a confidential, professional manner while our experienced, compassionate sexual abuse attorneys put your needs first.
What is Child Sexual Abuse?
The term child sexual abuse covers many illicit activities where an adult uses their position of authority to obtain sexual gratification from a child. It is not restricted to physical contact. Forms of child sexual abuse include:
- Exposing oneself to a minor
- Masturbation, singly or mutually, in the presence of a minor
- Obscene conversations
- Child pornography, including owning, sharing, or producing
- Any type of physical sexual interaction with a child
- Sex trafficking
- Any other contact of a sexual nature involving a minor
A sex abuse attorney with Nessler & Associates can answer any questions you have regarding your past experiences or your child’s experiences.
Behavioral Signs of Sexual Abuse in Children
You may suspect your child has experienced sexual abuse if you notice torn or bloody underclothes, difficulty sitting, standing, walking, or genital bruising. You should also be aware of behavioral signs of sexual abuse.
- Refusing to bathe or excessive bathing
- New phobias
- Signs of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder
- Suicidal ideation or thoughts
- New problems at school, like skipping or dropping grades
- Inappropriate behavior surrounding affection
- Inappropriate sexual behavior and knowledge
- Nightmares or night terrors
- Increased protectiveness over siblings
- Regressive behavior, like thumb sucking or needing an old security blanket
- Running away from home or school
- Self-destructive behavior, like substance abuse
- Flinching away from physical contact
If you notice any of these behaviors in your child, contact a sexual abuse lawyer with Nessler & Associates to find out how we can help.
Prevalence of Sexual Abuse in Children
A 2016 survey of crime victims in Illinois revealed that 20% had experienced sexual abuse as a child, and 8% had experienced sexual and physical abuse. In 2017, the Illinois Department of Family and Children’s Services substantiated over 1,900 sexual abuse claims they received. Unfortunately, this figure seriously undercounts the actual number of victims.
It has been estimated that only 38% of child victims tell someone about the abuse, and not all of those cases are reported. Children’s protective service agencies only investigate about 55% of incident reports they receive. They only investigate 20% of claims made by school personnel, which provide more reports than anyone else. False statements are estimated to make up only 4-8% of reports, and parents in custody disputes make up most of those.
Sexual abuse by a family member or sexual abuse of a child under the age of 5 are less likely than other cases to be reported. 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys experience sexual abuse. In one year, 16% of U.S. youth aged 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized. 28% of U.S. youth had been sexually abused between ages 14 and 17. The most vulnerable children are 7 to 13 years old.
Sexual abuse victims don’t often receive adequate support due to a lack of reporting or resources. Sexual assault lawyers can help these victims file a civil lawsuit to get financial compensation so they can get the help they need. Nessler & Associates can file your civil claim, even if there were no criminal charges.
Demographics of Childhood Sexual Abuse
Schools used to teach kids about stranger danger in a misguided attempt to keep them safe from sexual predators. These teachers didn’t know that 93% of sexual abuse victims know their abusers well, and 59% are trusted friends or acquaintances of the family.
Physically disabled children have three times the rate of sexual abuse as children without disabilities, and this rate climbs higher for children with intellectual or mental health disabilities.
Self-reporting studies reveal that 20% of women and 5-10% of men remember sexual abuse or assault incidents that occurred in childhood. Girls make up approximately 83% of sexual abuse victims in Illinois. One- to two-thirds of sexual assault victims were 15 or younger at the time of the assault, and more than 60% of rape victims were assaulted before they reached 18. People with household incomes below $7,500 face two times the risk of sexual assault as the general population.
Offenders choose the most vulnerable children to exploit and abuse because they know these children pose less risk of reporting or being believed if they do tell someone.
Most offenders are men known to the child and in a position of authority. Sexual predators gravitate toward situations where they have contact with children and can be found in religious organizations, youth organizations, foster care, juvenile justice facilities, school districts, and other public institutions.
These predators gain a position of trust to engage in inexcusable conduct. They usually start with less severe forms of sexual conduct like inappropriate touching before progressing to more intense forms of sexual contact.
If predators work for powerful institutions like the church or a school district, those institutions may shield the offender to avoid negative publicity. Sexual assault attorneys have experience finding the identities of all the responsible parties and holding them accountable, even if they are religious leaders. Nessler & Associates has decades of experience with these cases.
Effects of Child Sexual Abuse on the Adult Survivor
Victims of childhood sexual abuse develop feelings of worthlessness, low self-esteem, and a distorted view of sex. They may have trouble forming and maintaining healthy relationships.
Sexual assault survivors can become suicidal even years after a traumatic experience. They also experience rape or attempted rape at higher rates than people who haven’t been abused.
Male victims of abuse cause teen pregnancy five times more often than their peers, have multiple sexual partners three times more often, and have unprotected sex twice as often.
A sexual abuse survivor can feel the effects of the abuse on their mental health long after the event. Survivors are four times more likely to exhibit symptoms of drug abuse, four times more likely to experience PTSD as an adult, and three times more likely to have a major depressive episode as an adult.
Personal injury attorneys at a law firm with experience in sexual abuse cases may help you get financial compensation to cover your medical bills, psychological treatment, ongoing medical care, emotional scars, and punitive damages.
Seeking Justice for Child Sexual Abuse
The criminal justice system has a poor track record of delivering justice to sexual abuse and assault victims. Prosecutors must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt to reach a unanimous jury verdict. That can be more difficult when the victim is a minor.
Even if your abuser doesn’t get prison time, you can pursue civil justice through civil action. A strong, compassionate advocate from Nessler & Associates will fight aggressively for your legal rights to monetary compensation whether you are an adult survivor of abuse or your child is a victim.
Call us at (800) 727-8010 to schedule your free, confidential consultation. We support victims of sexual violence through every step of the legal process.
We can seek financial damages, including medical and psychological care, as well as non-economic damages like pain and suffering, the loss of your ability to form a meaningful relationship, and psychological injuries. We can seek punitive damages in some cases, especially when an organization was aware it had an abuser in its midst.