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Determining Liability in a YMCA Sexual Assault Case

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For many parents, the YMCA is a popular before- and after-school child care option. These parents entrust the administrators, staff, and volunteers to adhere to the highest standards when it comes to hiring, training, and supervision. When these standards aren’t met, it leaves room for a child to be placed in dangerous situations such as those involving sexual assault. 

This article discusses the issue of YMCA sexual assault, the organization’s policies, and how to seek legal recourse. 

Incidents of Sexual Assault at YMCAs

In September 2019, the mother of a five-year-old girl from Greenville County, South Carolina filed a lawsuit suing the YMCA after-school program at Duncan Chapel Elementary School for $100,000 after she says her daughter was sexually assaulted by a seven-year-old girl in the program, causing permanent mental anguish requiring treatment.

The YMCA director denied the allegations and the police ended their investigation without finding criminal violations after a few months, but attorneys dug up evidence that the YMCA was not following protocol. Their records showed five staffers for 50 children that day, but witnesses reported that, in fact, two teens were watching over the group at the time of the alleged incident.

A program attendee informed a supervisor that the girls were playing a “boyfriend-girlfriend” game under a blanket. The five-year-old complained to her mother of pain, told her about the “game” the same day, and had an exam to confirm the assault.

In this case, the YMCA was renting space in the school, but was operating independently of the school district and not funded by the government. Liability, in this case, would fall solely on the operators of the YMCA program. 

In 2015, Nicolas Lhermine pleaded guilty on eight counts of child molestation—with victims ages three, five, six, seven, and 17—at a YMCA daycare center at Paradise Valley Elementary School in Silicon Valley’s Morgan Hill community. Lhermine worked as a child care aide at the YMCA daycare facility during the alleged assaults and held numerous positions—including youth soccer coach—in his four years of employment at the YMCA. One of the victims and her father filed a lawsuit accusing the YMCA Silicon Valley of “egregious” violations of state laws and policies that are supposed to protect children from predators.

Does the YMCA Have a Policy Against Sexual Assault?

Each YMCA has its own policy on sexual assault and sexual abuse. For instance, the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles states:

“It is the policy of the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles that all members, guests, and staff will be afforded an environment for participation that is healthy and positive. Any form of physical, emotional, mental or sexual abuse is not tolerated. This policy describes appropriate conduct of YMCA staff, members, and guests; required steps to be taken in the screening, hiring, training, and supervision of YMCA employed and volunteer staff; appropriate conduct related to the supervision of children; and reporting requirements in case of suspected abuse.”

How Should the YMCA Handle Sexual Assault Allegations?

California’s Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act has made it a crime for anyone who knows, suspects, or should have known about the sexual assault of a minor to withhold that information from the proper authorities. Anyone who works with children in the state—including YMCA staff members and administrators—must report known or suspected child abuse of any kind within 36 hours. A mandated reporter who fails to notify the authorities is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by confinement in jail for up to six months and a fine of up to $1,000.

The YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles enacts the following procedures upon the accusation of child abuse:

  • The staff member notifies the program director who reviews the incident.
  • Known or suspected child abuse is reported to the Department of Social Services right away, within 36 hours, as required by law.
  • If the suspect is a volunteer, staff, or YMCA member, the executive director will suspend the person immediately until the investigation is complete. Parents of the child(ren) will be notified in accordance with directions from the state or local agency. 
  • The names and contact information of those involved will remain confidential. 
  • All employees must have read and signed a copy of the YMCA sexual abuse policy.

Deviation from any of these procedures could be used in civil court when determining third-party liability. 

Common Grounds for YMCA Liability in Child Care Abuse Cases

In civil lawsuits against the YMCA, program administrators can be held liable for failing to properly screen/hire, train, and supervise employees or children in the program. Particularly in sexual assault cases, there is almost always an issue where an employee had a past history of wrongdoing that was negligently missed in a background check or intentionally ignored for various reasons. A sexual assault lawyer will know where to look and how to discover discrepancies that led to the abuse of a child.

Can the Government Be Held Liable for YMCA Sexual Assault? 

It is important to hire an experienced sexual assault lawyer in these cases, as determining the full scope of liability can be complex. Among the parties you can sue are:

  • The individual perpetrator(s) who can be held both criminally and civilly liable.
  • The YMCA for failing to adequately hire, staff, train, or supervise.
  • Child Development Inc. or any other child care service that staffs and supervises.
  • The school district if they fund or oversee the after-school YMCA program.
  • The state government if they fund or oversee the school district and YMCA program.

The way YMCA after-school programs that cooperate with local schools and daycares are run varies greatly from place to place. An experienced sexual assault lawyer will know exactly which entities to hold accountable when aiming to file the strongest claim.

Contact Sexual Assault Lawyers in San Francisco

Incidents of sexual assault should be handled with care and expertise, especially those that involve a child. The wrong interview techniques could cause a child to shut down, provide inconsistent statements, or suffer from deeper trauma. At Lewis & Llewellyn, we work with local resources to protect child victims. Interviews are often conducted by the Children’s Interview Center and CALICO Center to support the unique needs of the child while preparing a strong witness statement. Cases such as those involving YMCA sexual assault shouldn’t be handled by typical personal injury firms. Instead, they should be handled by sexual assault attorneys such as those at Lewis & Llewellyn who have the experience and grit to go up against large entities and hold them liable for the role they played in enabling the assault. 

If you are a parent advocating for your child or an adult who suffered YMCA sexual assault years ago, the attorneys at Lewis & Llewellyn may be able to help. Contact our team online for support and guidance to see or call +1 (415) 800-0590 to schedule an appointment with an advocate today.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this blog or on this website should be construed as legal advice from Lewis & Llewellyn LLP. Neither your receipt of information from this website, nor your use of this website to contact Lewis & Llewellyn LLP creates an attorney-client relationship between you and the firm or any of its lawyers. No reader of this website should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this website without seeking the appropriate legal advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s jurisdiction.

child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome

Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome: How Victims Can Seek Justice

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Oftentimes, survivors of sexual abuse choose not to come forward immediately—or even at all—about what happened to them. In many cases, this is due to their fear of what may happen if they speak out. In other cases, survivors of sexual abuse may suffer from psychological conditions, such as Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome (CSAAS), that cause them to react in a way that allows the abuse to continue.   

Understanding Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome 

CSAAS was first proposed by psychiatrist Roland Summit, M. D. in 1983 as a way of understanding the complex ways children react to sexual abuse. According to Dr. Summit, children “learn to accept the situation and to survive.” They know there is “no way out, no place to run,” so “the healthy, normal, emotionally resilient child will learn to accommodate to the reality of continuing sexual abuse.” Not every child demonstrates every symptom of the syndrome and some have said that CSAAS isn’t scientifically proven, but this model can be helpful in categorizing and understanding common sexual abuse survivors’ reactions.

The five categories of CSAAS include:

  1. Secrecy

Why don’t children report their abuse right away? The answer is secrecy, which begins with the grooming process, as the perpetrator looks for ways to secure the child’s silence and continue the abuse. Sometimes offenders tell children silence is the only way to keep their families together. Other times, there are threats of beatings, threats of hurting family members, or fear of losing parental approval and affection. Children are often frightened and confused. Secrecy is pitched as a way of maintaining stability.

  1. Helplessness

Why don’t children struggle and resist? Children are often small in stature, dependent on adults for survival, and emotionally immature. They are unable to escape from dangerous situations or protect themselves from more powerful adults. When they find they are cornered and cannot save themselves, they may instead withdraw, dissociate, pretend to be asleep, or lie still to cope. Dissociation is an important survival mechanism where the injured body separates from the mind, so the child feels as though the abuse was happening to someone else.

  1. Entrapment and Accommodation

Why don’t children see abusers as wrong? Children who keep a secret of abuse may inevitably feel trapped and have difficulty reconciling with the fact that people who are supposed to take care of them are exploiting them. They may seek a way to re-establish some sense of power or control. Often, children blame themselves to rationalize the ways they provoked the victimization. In much the same way, a child who is beaten looks back to their “bad behaviors” to justify the hurt from a trusted adult. Emotionally abused or neglected children may focus on a particular trait they imagine to be unacceptable in themselves. They conclude that by “being good” and putting up with the abuse, they will earn the abuser’s love or kindness.  

  1. Delayed, Conflicted, and Unconvincing Disclosure

Why are initial disclosures unconvincing? Disclosing abuse can prompt an acute crisis in a child who has tried in so many ways for so long to dissociate and hide from the horrible reality of what happened. Initial disclosures often contain inconsistencies or retractions due to anxiety, fear, and uncertainty. The defense mechanisms deployed to cope with the abuse can lead to memories that are fragmented, altered, or incomplete. Later, as a teenager, there are often added thoughts that no one will believe them and that they will instead suffer punishment, humiliation, or ostracization by peers. By this time, the abuse may have caused the child to get involved with truancy, drugs, alcohol, petty crime, or other behaviors that make believability less likely.  

  1. Retraction

Why do abused children retract their stories or want to stay with the abuser? Confusion, guilt, shame, and feelings of betrayal may wash over children who have disclosed. Adult responses of shock and outrage can seem frightening. Sometimes children are placed in foster care, a parent is put in prison, a teacher is removed from the school, or the child may perceive others suffering as a result of the confession. This pressure could cause the child to retract the disclosure and retreat to the familiar, yet painful, situation as it was before. Especially in cases where the abuser is a parent, the children long to keep the family together, even though they simultaneously wish the abuse were not taking place.   

No Matter How Many Years It’s Been, You Can Seek Justice Now

In October 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 218 into law, set to go into effect January 1, 2020. This piece of legislation opens up a three-year lookback window for which old claims of childhood sexual abuse may be revived, no matter how long ago it happened or what the statute of limitations was at the time. After the lookback period ends, survivors will still have until age 40 or five years from the discovery of harm to file a civil lawsuit against the abuser and other third parties if they were involved in covering up the abuse. When institutional coverup occurred, survivors are entitled to receive treble damages for any costs they’ve endured as a result of the abuse.

If you or a loved one suffer from Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome that hindered prompt reporting, we may be able to help. At Lewis & Llewellyn, we have the experience, grit, and compassion to help you obtain justice and maximum compensation thanks to provisions made by legislation such as AB 218. Contact our team online for support and guidance to see you through this emotional time, or call +1 (415) 800-0590 to schedule an appointment with an advocate today.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this blog or on this website should be construed as legal advice from Lewis & Llewellyn LLP. Neither your receipt of information from this website, nor your use of this website to contact Lewis & Llewellyn LLP creates an attorney-client relationship between you and the firm or any of its lawyers. No reader of this website should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this website without seeking the appropriate legal advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s jurisdiction.

when can you sue for sexual assault

When Can You Sue for Sexual Assault?

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Due to the complexities of sexual assault laws in California, you may be wondering when can you sue? Sexual assault laws can be confusing, particularly if you’re trying to figure out whether your case falls within the accepted filing deadline, otherwise known as the statute of limitations. Survivors of sexual assault don’t always come forward within the filing deadline, causing their claim to become time-barred or expire. 

For survivors, these deadlines can feel cruel because, of course, there is no limitation on the length of time you may suffer the effects of the sexual assault. Fortunately, California law has been amended to extend the timeframe for reporting, allowing many more survivors to come forward and take a stand against sexual assault and abuse. 

California Civil Statute of Limitations: When Can You Sue for Sexual Assault?

You can sue the perpetrator of sexual assault until age 40

Section 340.1 of the Code of Civil Procedure sets the legal deadline for filing civil charges of childhood sexual abuse to “within eight years of the date the plaintiff attains the age of majority (age 26) or within three years of the date the plaintiff discovers that psychological injury or illness occurring after the age of majority was caused by sexual abuse, whichever occurs later.” The civil code also provides for a delayed discovery period of three years. This means that your lawsuit will be timely if it is filed within three years after the date you discovered the connection between your suffered injuries and the abuse itself. 

However, with the passage of Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218), beginning January 1, 2020, survivors will have 22 years (until age 40) to file a civil lawsuit. The bill expands the definition of childhood sexual abuse to be referred to as “childhood sexual assault” and increases the delayed discovery window from three to five years from the realization of harm.

You can bring about time-barred cases during a lookback window

The passage of AB 218 also provides a three-year lookback window for previously expired claims. This means that survivors of childhood sexual assault have three years (2020-2023) to file a civil lawsuit against their perpetrator, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred.

You can sue third parties for treble damages

Civil law allows for an expanded scope of liability to include the institutions and organizations that enabled or even tried to cover up the abuse. Third parties sued in sexual assault cases often include school districts, youth organizations, church dioceses, medical facilities, daycare licensing boards, and foster care agencies among others.

AB 218 allows for courts to compel the defendant to pay up to three times the amount of actual damages—also referred to as treble damages—to a plaintiff if an attempted cover-up was involved. 

You can sue mandatory reporters within five years  

The Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA) holds those who work with children liable for protecting them from physical and emotional abuse, sexual perversions, and neglect. The list of mandatory reporters in California includes teachers, social workers, doctors, police officers, clergy, firefighters, daycare workers, counselors, coaches, foster parents, and anyone whose scope of employment includes the care of a child.

By law, these individuals are required to report all instances of known or suspected child abuse to a police officer or child welfare officer within 36 hours. Failure to report is charged as a misdemeanor and can lead to the individual having to pay a fine of up to $5,000 and serving up to one year in jail (when the abuse leads to grievous bodily harm). Intentionally concealing evidence is considered a continuing offense.   

In 2018, California Assembly Bill 2302 extended the statute of limitations for filing a civil lawsuit against a mandated reporter who failed to report known or suspected incidents to five years from the date the last offense occurred. 

Contact An Experienced Sexual Assault Attorney in the Bay Area  

With the many limitations and deadlines, understanding exactly when you can sue for sexual assault can be confusing. You may not have been ready to come forward in the past but legislation in California has created an opportunity should you decided to seek justice against your abuser. 

If you decide to file a civil lawsuit, it’s best to work with an attorney who specializes in sexual assault cases and not someone who claims to deal with all types of personal injury. The experienced sexual assault attorneys at Lewis & Llewellyn know exactly how to handle these unique cases and understand the associated laws. 

If you are wondering when you can sue for sexual assault, even if it happened years ago, the attorneys at Lewis & Llewellyn may be able to help.  Contact our team online for support and guidance, or call +1 (415) 800-0590 to schedule an appointment with an advocate today.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this blog or on this website should be construed as legal advice from Lewis & Llewellyn LLP. Neither your receipt of information from this website, nor your use of this website to contact Lewis & Llewellyn LLP creates an attorney-client relationship between you and the firm or any of its lawyers. No reader of this website should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this website without seeking the appropriate legal advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s jurisdiction.

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Recovering Treble Damages in California for Childhood Sexual Assault

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The passage of AB 218 is bringing a landslide of important changes for survivors of childhood sexual assault. Most significantly, it allows survivors to file a civil lawsuit between January 2020 and January 2023 seeking monetary damages for childhood sexual assault, regardless of when the assault took place. Anyone who has been sexually assaulted in the past can come forward to sue, whether the defendant is a public or private entity or an individual. The typical deadline (until age 26 or within three years of the discovery of harm) does not apply until 2023—after which, the survivor has until age 40 or within five years of the discovery of harm to file a civil lawsuit for childhood sexual assault.

Another important component of AB 218 is that it provides for the recovery of up to three times the actual damages if the assault or abuse was the result of a cover-up. This form of punitive damages is referred to as “treble damages.” In this post, we’ll explore the possibilities and limitations of this new provision as it relates to survivors of childhood sexual assault and abuse pursuing civil litigation and the recovery of treble damages in California.

What Are Punitive Damages?

According to Civil Code 3294, California allows for punitive damages in personal injury cases when a plaintiff has proven “by clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant has “acted with oppression, fraud, or malice.” It is often this hefty fine that brings claims from the thousands into the millions of dollars. Unlike a criminal case, where the fine would be payable to the state, the awarding of punitive damages goes directly to the plaintiff in a civil case. Naturally, your lawyer will look for any evidence of wrongful acts on the part of the defendant(s).

The objective is not to financially destroy the defendant, but to at least deter the defendant from future wrongdoing. Often, the courts will tally up the actual harm suffered (medical bills, lost wages, etc.) and multiply this number by one or three to come up with the amount of punitive damages to award. When the multiplier is three, the punitive damages are referred to as “treble damages.”

AB 218 and Recovering Treble Damages in California

AB 218 “would also provide for the recovery of up to treble damages against certain defendants in these actions.” According to the revised 340.1(b)(1):

“A person who is sexually assaulted and proves it was as the result of a cover-up may recover up to treble damages against a defendant who is found to have covered up the sexual assault of a minor, unless prohibited by another law.”

“Cover-Up,” As Defined By AB 218

AB 218 amends Section 340.1(b)(2) of the Code of Civil Procedure to describe a “cover-up” as:

“A concerted effort to hide evidence relating to childhood sexual assault.”

In California, anyone who works with children is considered a mandatory reporter who must contact the police or child protective services to report any known or suspected case of child assault/abuse within 36 hours of receipt of that knowledge. Failure to do so has legal repercussions such as fines payable to the state, jail time, and the ability to be held liable in civil court when a plaintiff is seeking to recover treble damages.

When Are Treble Damages Not Recoverable?

The law states that treble damages are “not recoverable if prohibited by another law.” This pertains to Gov. Code Sec. 818, which expressly prohibits treble or exemplary damages against public entities—such as public schools. That doesn’t mean that public entity employees can’t be responsible for treble damages. The court case of Runyon v. Superior Court clarified that Section 818 does not apply to public employees—just public entities—so it is still possible to sue an individual school administrator or another employee for treble damages in a lawsuit, although rarely will an individual have the resources to pay significant punitive damages.

What to Do If Someone Attempted to Cover-Up Childhood Sexual Assault/Abuse

It can be hard to understand how or why an institution would willfully conceal evidence of childhood sexual assault or shield perpetrators from punishment. Yet, these organizations may decide to place their reputations ahead of the child trusted in their care. If you believe someone knew that you or your child was sexually assaulted or abused, a civil lawsuit could be the necessary course of action to hold all parties liable and to recover treble damages based on California law.  

At Lewis & Llewellyn, we believe that it is never okay for agencies or institutions to willfully turn a blind eye to sexual abuse. It doesn’t matter if the perpetrator was a prominent financial donor, someone with longstanding ties to the organization, or just an embarrassment they’d rather quietly sweep under the rug. Whatever the case may be, our experienced team of litigators will help you seek justice and hold those responsible accountable for their negligence, recklessness, and willful misconduct. We seek maximum compensation as allowed by law, including punitive damages. 

Whether you’re advocating for your child or are an adult seeking closure for sexual assault suffered years ago, Lewis & Llewellyn has the experience, grit, and compassion to help you obtain justice and maximum compensation such as treble damages. Contact our team online for support and guidance to see you through this emotional time, or call +1 (415) 800-0590 to schedule an appointment with an advocate today.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this blog or on this website should be construed as legal advice from Lewis & Llewellyn LLP. Neither your receipt of information from this website, nor your use of this website to contact Lewis & Llewellyn LLP creates an attorney-client relationship between you and the firm or any of its lawyers. No reader of this website should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this website without seeking the appropriate legal advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s jurisdiction.

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AB 218 Eliminates Requirements for Suing California Government Entities

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Historically, suing California government entities (such as a public school district) has been difficult. Under the California Tort Claims Act (CTCA), one had to first file an administrative claim for their personal injury with the government office or agency within six months of the date of injury. The law was designed to provide publicly-funded entities with the opportunity to consider a remedy before defending a lawsuit in court. The government then had 45 days to respond to the claim. If the claim was granted, a settlement could be offered right away. If they denied the claim or failed to respond, the filing party had up to two years to file a personal injury lawsuit in court. Failure to abide by these legal technicalities could’ve barred one from filing a civil case related to the harm suffered.

The CTCA complicated matters for many sexual abuse survivors. Not all survivors choose to come forward within such a limited timeframe for a myriad of personal reasons such as children who may not have understood the nature of the abuse or the long-lasting repercussions until many years later. New laws, most recently Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218), have made a significant impact on the CTCA, opening the floodgates for injured plaintiffs that were previously time-barred to re-ignite their claims to compensation for the harm they’ve suffered.

AB 218 Updates Rules for Victims of Childhood Sexual Assault

One key exception to the California Tort Claims Act can be found in California Government Code Section 905(m), which states:

“Exceptions to the claim form requirement include claims made pursuant to Section 340.1 of the Code of Civil Procedure for the recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual assault. This subdivision shall apply only to claims arising out of conduct occurring on or after January 1, 2009.” 

In other words, anyone who has been sexually abused as of 2009 (or later) can proceed directly to civil court to file a lawsuit, without worrying about that special claims form or the six-month deadline.  

But what if your abuse dates further back? Is there no hope for you? It would seem that way, but the situation changed in October 2019 with the passage of AB 218. One of the statutes amended via AB 218 is the Gov. Code Sec. 905 claim form requirement. With the passage of AB 218, it no longer matters when the abuse occurred. No claim form is required for any damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual assault.

Now, in the newly revised Gov. Code Sec. 905(m), the bill explicitly states:

“Exceptions to the claim form requirement include claims made pursuant to Section 340.1 of the Code of Civil Procedure for the recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual assault.”

AB 218 will go into effect on January 1, 2020.

Deadlines for Suing California Government for Childhood Sexual Assault  

In addition to correcting the government claim form loophole, AB 218 also:

  • Expands the statute of limitations, allowing childhood sexual assault survivors until age 40 (or five years from the discovery of harm) to file a civil claim for compensation. Previously, survivors had until age 26 or within three years of discovery to pursue a civil claim.
  • Provides a three-year look-back window for survivors to file a civil lawsuit for child sexual assault. Regardless of when the assault took place or how old you are now, this piece of legislation allows survivors to come forward between 2020-2023 to seek justice and compensation.

Significantly, AB 218 applies to governmental and non-governmental entities. No favoritism is granted and no government body, agency, or financier is shielded from liability when it comes to child sexual assault.

Bay Area Attorneys Aren’t Afraid of Suing California Government Entities

Sexual assault and sexual abuse typically take place behind closed doors and out of view of the public eye. However, patterns of suspicious behavior are often in plain sight in certain environments. When this behavior is ignored, it may lead to actions that could’ve been prevented had the proper measures been taken.   

Civil court allows for an expanded scope of liable to include the organizations and entities that played a role in enabling the assault or abuse. The sexual assault lawyers at San Francisco law firm Lewis & Llewellyn aren’t afraid to hold government entities liable in civil court for failure to take the proper measures that could’ve kept sexual predators away from victims.

Whether you’re advocating for your child or are an adult seeking closure for sexual violence suffered years ago, Lewis & Llewellyn has the experience, grit, and compassion to help you obtain justice and maximum compensation when suing California government entities. Contact our team online for support and guidance to see you through this emotional time, or call +1 (415) 800-0590 to schedule an appointment with an advocate today.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this blog or on this website should be construed as legal advice from Lewis & Llewellyn LLP. Neither your receipt of information from this website, nor your use of this website to contact Lewis & Llewellyn LLP creates an attorney-client relationship between you and the firm or any of its lawyers. No reader of this website should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this website without seeking the appropriate legal advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s jurisdiction.

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AB 1510: California Law Gives Sexual Assault Victims More Time to Sue

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The University of Southern California (USC) has received much attention in the past few months regarding allegations of sexual misconduct. In April, students held a sit-in protest of USC’s “unsatisfactory” response to sexual misconduct allegations against former physicians George Tyndall and Dennis Kelly. Hosted by the Trojan Advocates for Political Progress, the sit-in rallied against the school’s efforts to lobby against Assembly Bill 1510 (AB 1510), a bill that would allow survivors to file actions against private universities under a statute of limitations extension. California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 1510 into law in October 2019. Now, victims of sexual assault can decide on their next course of action. 

USC Turns Blind Eye to Sexual Assault, Prompting Legal Action

Back in June 2019, Tyndall was arrested outside his Westlake apartment on 29 felony counts, including sexual penetration of an unconscious person, sexual battery, and forced touching of intimate parts under the guise of a professional purpose. The criminal case involved 16 former patients seeking $215 million in damages, though another 720 lawsuits were filed in state court. Most of the complaints were from 2009-2016, but some of the alleged incidents date back to 1996.  

Then, in August, another scandal came to light, where 48 male students accused Kelly of sexual abuse under the guise of medical exams dating back at least 20 years. Dozens of victims filed lawsuits against the doctor and USC—alleging gender violence, sexual battery, and sexual harassment. At least three victims say they never heard back after formally complaining to the school. One man said a USC official told him the incident occurred “too long ago to determine what happened.” Another man said the response came a year later—after the lawsuit filing. USC law professor and chair of Concerned Faculty of USC Ariela Gross explained to LA Mag, “USC treats litigation as an excuse for a level of secrecy that is not necessary. The university is not just a party in a lawsuit. The university is an educational community that owes something to all of its members.”

The Introduction of AB 1510

California Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-San Bernardino) introduced AB 1510 to give victims of sexual assault a one-year lookback window (through the end of 2020) where they may file a lawsuit, regardless of when the alleged abuse took place. Prior to the bill’s signing, victims had up to 10 years since the last incident occurred to come forward seeking retribution through the civil court system.

Though the bill itself is broadly written and does not mention USC directly, Assemblymember Reyes has said in drafting the legislation, “As a proud graduate of USC, I am appalled that Dr. Tyndall was allowed to continue his actions even though it has been reported that numerous administrators and other student health center employees complained. Media reports show patient complaints of his inappropriate behavior as early as 1991. Colleges and universities are meant to be safe spaces of learning where parents and students trust that institutions of learning will honor their commitment to keep our young people safe and away from harm.  Unfortunately, that solemn trust has been violated and has left in its wake women who will have to carry the burden of their experiences for a lifetime.”

USC Proposes Settlement for Sexual Assault Victims

With regard to the Tyndall case, USC has proposed a $215 million settlement that would apply to those listed in a federal class-action lawsuit. The settlement calls for a minimum payment of $2,500 for any patient treated by Dr. Tyndall—with no further documentation required; survivors are simply believed, and will not be scrutinized in order to receive compensation. If a class member chooses to become more involved in the process, tell her story, and provide specific evidence of trauma, they may be entitled to up to $250,000 in compensation. The settlement would also include USC’s implementation of best practices designed to respond to and prevent future sexual assaults on campus.

Thanks to the passage of AB 1510, the federal settlement proposal is no longer the only path forward. Additionally, hundreds of other patients have sued Tyndall and USC individually through the Los Angeles Superior Court. There is a potential for much higher damage awards for individuals who are willing to go through the process of sharing their stories outside of the class action.

How Do I File a Lawsuit Against Under AB 1510 in California?

Civil courts allow for an expanded scope of liability, holding third parties (such as universities) liable for the role they played in enabling sexual assault. Many educational institutions are required, by law, to protect students from sexual abuse, whether it be by staff members, coaches, organizational leadership, or other students on campus. If you’ve decided to pursue litigation against a university under AB 1510, an experienced legal representative can act as your advocate, providing counsel and empowering control over the course of the proceedings. In addition to AB 1510, there are a number of other laws designed to protect students from sexual assault on California campuses

At Lewis & Llewellyn, we are always on top of new legislation for victims of sexual assault and abuse. We have successfully won multi-million-dollar verdicts for our clients, even when the statute of limitations appeared to have run out. Learn more about some of our victories in court. We lend a compassionate ear and believe in the total wellness of our clients. We can help you find the support services you need to get your life back on track after the harm you’ve suffered.

Even if the incident occurred years ago, you have the right to seek justice. The attorneys at Lewis & Llewellyn specialize in litigating sexual assault cases and can help survivors connect with medical service providers and counselors, in addition to providing legal representation. Contact our team online for support and guidance, or call +1 (415) 800-0590 to schedule an appointment with an advocate today.

 
DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this blog or on this website should be construed as legal advice from Lewis & Llewellyn LLP. Neither your receipt of information from this website, nor your use of this website to contact Lewis & Llewellyn LLP creates an attorney-client relationship between you and the firm or any of its lawyers. No reader of this website should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this website without seeking the appropriate legal advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s jurisdiction.

pressured into sex

What to Do If I Was Pressured Into Sex?

By Blog
This post was written before the passage of AB-218. For information regarding the statute of limitations for filing a civil lawsuit for childhood sexual assault/abuse, click here or contact our team of experienced representatives.

 

One in 16 U.S. women (3.3 million) report “rape” as their first sexual encounter. Not always do these cases involve attacks from strangers. Rather, these incidents sometimes involve someone known by the victim—someone who can pressure them into having sex. 

By law, rape is defined as an act of sexual intercourse accomplished with a person not the spouse of the perpetrator under circumstances such as where a person is incapable of giving legal consent; forced to endure the unwanted sexual act; or prevented from resisting. If you were pressured into sex, it may classify as rape or sexual assault and you may be able to press charges and seek compensation in civil court.  

What Happens If I Said “Yes?” 

Even if you initially agreed to sex, you have the right to revoke that consent at any time during the sexual act. The pressure to have sex can also be called sexual coercion, which occurs when one’s consent falls somewhere between “yes” and “no.” Abusers may use a variety of tactics to get what they want, such as threats, constant communications, trickery, isolation, the use of drugs and alcohol, mockery, physical force, or psychological manipulation.

You may have been pressured into sex if you were:

  • asked to have sex by a superior at work or offered a promotion for sex
  • threatened with sanctions if a sexual relationship didn’t continue
  • targeted for sex based on your language, culture, education level, immigration status, drug addiction, impaired mental capacity, or history of prior abuse
  • intimidated, fearful, uncertain, or felt helpless while having sex
  • a minor at the time
  • under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • made to feel you “owed” someone sex because of past activities or gifts

A number of laws in California protect citizens from sexual coercion in the workplace, in the military, on college campuses, and in nursing care facilities.

What to Do If You Were Pressured Into Sex

There may be many situations that could lead to you feeling pressured into sex. Thankfully, there are just as many courses of action you can take to prevent feeling uncomfortable or seek justice if the act has already taken place. 

Communicate your wishes clearly. Sometimes the pressure for sex comes from a romantic partner or someone you care about. It’s best to have a conversation about sex as early as possible. Allow time for your partner to process it, as there could be some strong emotions or feelings. If your partner doesn’t agree with your wishes, you may need to consider walking away from the relationship.

Keep healthy boundaries. When you reach college age, you may find the increased freedom liberating. However, keep in mind, certain situations can send signals to people looking to have sex with you. For instance, if you’ve just enjoyed a nice outing and your date invites you back to their place, they might assume you’re interested in sexual activity. Be sure to clearly communicate your wishes. It may also be a good idea to go out in the company of trusted friends, where it’s mutually agreed you arrive and depart as a group, leaving no one behind.  

Have an exit strategy. Sexual pressure can arise suddenly while on a date or out with a friend. Know what you will say in case of such an event. You could say something along the lines of “I like you, but I just want to have fun tonight and not have sex.” You could also say, “I need time to think.” Before you head off with a date, consider setting your phone alarm to ring or arrange to have a close friend call you in an hour, in case you need an excuse to leave. 

Speak to someone. There are many resources available to you, should you need to speak with someone about your feelings. A confidential advocate can reinforce how you feel and help you determine a healthy course of action. Sometimes just talking about it removes a huge burden from your shoulders.  

Report it. If you are a minor under the age of 18, know that it is illegal for someone to pressure you into sex—particularly an adult. Depending on where the sexual harassment occurs, you (or your parent) may report it to another trusted adult—such as a school official, coach, daycare worker, clergy member, or scout leader. California has a mandatory reporter law whereby individuals tasked with your safety must report known or suspected sexual abuse to the proper authorities.  

File a police report and press charges. If you are fearful for your safety, you may want to consider filing a police report. If the police gather enough evidence to make an arrest, they will then decide whether to forward the case to the district attorney (DA). If accepted, your case will go forward to trial as a state matter. If the accused is found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, jail time, probation, community service, a fine payable to the state, and sex offender registration could follow.

File a civil lawsuit seeking damages. Sometimes sexual pressure leads to personal damages such as medical bills, therapy bills, lost wages, or lost quality of life from pain and suffering. Filing a civil lawsuit can help you recover financial compensation for many of these losses. Civil courts allow for an expanded scope of liability that allows you to hold other entities accountable for what happened to you (like church dioceses, school districts, or youth organizations) if applicable. There is also a lower evidence threshold, where a judge and jury must believe your story was at least 51% or more true. Even if you were unsuccessful in criminal court, your case may prevail in civil court. Filing deadlines differ in civil court and they may change over time. It’s best to contact a legal professional who has experience in cases like yours.   

Let an Experienced Sexual Assault Attorney Help You 

Being pressured into sex can be a traumatic experience that affects you both mentally and physically. It is important to take the proper measures to obtain healing and justice. If you were involved in a physical sexual act against your will, you may have grounds to press charges and sue. For the best results, consider working with an attorney who specializes in cases of sexual assault.  

At Lewis & Llewellyn, we seek to effect real change in the lives of those impacted by sexual assault, as well as society as a whole, by strategically bringing civil proceedings that shine a spotlight on the individuals and entities that condone, cover-up, or turn a blind eye.

You deserve to have a compassionate advocate who believes you and will navigate the damages you may have suffered as a result of your assault. We can’t promise you’ll receive a specific amount of money, but we can guarantee the best legal remedy from our team of experienced California sexual assault attorneys. Contact us today, or call +1 (415) 800-0590 to set up a free initial consultation.


DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this blog or on this website should be construed as legal advice from Lewis & Llewellyn LLP. Neither your receipt of information from this website, nor your use of this website to contact Lewis & Llewellyn LLP creates an attorney-client relationship between you and the firm or any of its lawyers. No reader of this website should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this website without seeking the appropriate legal advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s jurisdiction.

when is it considered sexual assault

Knowing the Signs: When Is It Considered Sexual Assault?

By Blog

Sexual assault is typically thought of as an act committed by a stranger—sudden, forced, and oftentimes violent. However, these scenarios account for less than 20% of adult sexual assaults and less than 7% of child sexual assaults. Far more commonly, the victim knew the perpetrator, perhaps even romantically involved, leaving one to wonder, “when is it considered sexual assault?” 

In this article, we will discuss the signs of sexual assault and what to do if you are a victim. 

When Is It Considered Sexual Assault?

In California, sexual assault falls under Penal Code 243.4. Based on the law, it is considered sexual assault if the act involved physical contact and the touching of intimate body parts for the gratification and arousal of the perpetrator.

When identifying if an act was sexual assault, one should consider the following: 

  • Was consent given? Educational institutions in California say that consent goes beyond “no means no” to be defined as “yes means yes.” Since 2015, SB 967 has granted a “right to be believed based on a preponderance of the evidence,” which re-defined consent as “affirmative, unambiguous, and conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.” 
  • Was consent given the entire time? You might be involved in physical sexual contact with consent, but decide you don’t want to continue. It is your right to revoke consent during any time of the act.
  • Were you under the age of 18 at the time? In California, consent can only be given by a person who is over 18 years of age. Minors cannot legally provide consent. Penalties stiffen when the age gap between the perpetrator and the victim is greater than four years. 
  • Were/Are you disabled? The law is particularly protective of Californians with physical, cognitive, intellectual, sensory, and mental health disabilities. By law, those who are disabled cannot legally give consent to sexual activity. In the past, California courts have ruled that adults with child-like levels of comprehension and conversation level are unable to understand the consequences of sex such as impregnation or STDs and therefore, cannot give their consent. 
  • Was force involved? A victim may have been tricked, coerced, or otherwise pressured into engaging in sexual activity. Force may include verbal threats, physical violence, or use of a weapon (which elevates the crime to felony status.)
  • Were you asleep, intoxicated, or otherwise incapacitated at the time? A person who is not of sound judgment and mind cannot legally consent to sexual activity. If the other person knew or reasonably should have known you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol or asleep at the time, assault charges can be pressed.

What to Do If You Were Sexually Assaulted

Press Criminal Charges

Talking to law enforcement about what happened may be difficult, but it is a necessary step if you feel you have been wronged and worry about what might happen if the perpetrator goes unpunished. Most sex offenders are recidivists, meaning they are likely to attack again. By remaining silent, you could be putting yourself and others at risk. As of January 1, 2017, there is no time limit for pressing charges in cases of sexual assault. Prior to that, California had a 10-year statute of limitations. 

If you decide to report what happened, the police will investigate your case and forward it to the district attorney who will ultimately decide if there is sufficient evidence to press criminal charges. The end result for the perpetrator could be jail time, probation, fines paid to the state, and inclusion on a sex offender registry. If the district attorney rejects your case, you can still file a lawsuit in civil court.       

Seek a Civil Recovery

Civil court represents another option for sexual assault victims. It allows for an expanded scope of liability that may include employers, school districts, church dioceses, or youth organizations that have a legal duty to protect you. A civil lawsuit can help victims recover compensation for damages suffered as a result of the assault. Even if your criminal case is still pending or lost in court, you can still file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator or other third parties involved. Civil cases are decided based on a preponderance of the evidence, meaning the judge and at least nine out of the 12 jury members must agree that it’s at least 51% likely the alleged act was committed. The statute of limitations for filing a civil lawsuit for sexual assault in California has recently been extended with the passing of Assembly Bill 218

Filing deadlines can be complicated, as they are always changing. Depending on when your assault took place, you may have more time to file a legal complaint. It’s best to reach out to an experienced sexual assault attorney if you are unsure.       

Contact an Experienced Bay Area Sexual Assault Attorney

It can be difficult to know the signs of sexual assault, especially if the act was committed by someone you know and trust. By reaching out to an experienced sexual assault attorney, you’ll receive expert advice and know exactly how to proceed. 

Whether you’re advocating for your child or are an adult seeking closure for sexual assault suffered years ago, Lewis & Llewellyn has the experience, grit, and compassion to help you obtain justice and maximum compensation. Contact our team online for support and guidance to see you through this emotional time, or call +1 (415) 800-0590 to schedule an appointment with an advocate today.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this blog or on this website should be construed as legal advice from Lewis & Llewellyn LLP. Neither your receipt of information from this website, nor your use of this website to contact Lewis & Llewellyn LLP creates an attorney-client relationship between you and the firm or any of its lawyers. No reader of this website should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this website without seeking the appropriate legal advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s jurisdiction.

what is sexual bullying

Clients Ask: What Is Sexual Bullying?

By Blog

Sexual harassment and sexual bullying are very similar but may differ for legal reasons. While laws may refer to actions as “sexual harassment,” many school documents call it “bullying.” During the 2016-2017 school year, there were more than 10,000 sexual harassment offenses, as defined by California education code that resulted in suspension, expulsion or disciplinary diversion within school districts across the state. While most behaviors can be considered both sexual bullying and sexual harassment—it can be confusing—leading teens to wonder “what is sexual bullying?” 

In this article, we will discuss the actions that constitute sexual bullying; its prevalence and associated effects; how it can lead to sexual violence; and what to do if you or someone you know experiences sexual bullying. 

What Is Sexual Bullying?

Sexual bullying is a form of verbal, written, or physical harassment based on a person’s sexuality or gender. If left unaddressed, sexual bullying can lead to physical sexual violence. Inappropriate jokes, comments, images, language, or contact that make a person feel uncomfortable or upset may constitute sexual bullying.

In the spring of 2016, a group of Boston high school students held a walkout protest of misogyny and sexual harassment at school. Girls were reportedly being called names and harassed as they walked the halls. Similarly, Colorado high school students walked out in protest of the school’s inaction over reports that boys were openly joking about sexual assault and threatening to commit acts of rape via social media. 

Additional examples of sexual bullying may include:

Identifying Sexual Bullying

Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish sexual bullying from flirtation but according to KidsHealth.org:

  • It’s bullying if your crush continually pressures you to send sexual pictures or engage in sexual activity, despite your refusal.
  • It’s bullying if someone in class refers to your body parts, saying your new jeans “make your butt look great,” rather than complimenting by saying, “your new jeans look great.”
  • It’s bullying if a person you’ve rejected responds by referencing sex or your body, sexting, stalking, trying to brush up against you, or spreading rumors about you.

Generally, if something makes you feel uncomfortable and you don’t want the behavior to continue, you should speak with a trusted adult about it. 

Why Might Kids Be Sexually Bullying Others?

There are many reasons why children may engage in sexual bullying. Reasons can include:

  • to mask low esteem
  • to receive attention
  • to exert power over others
  • to appear “sexually mature”
  • envy or jealousy (same-sex bullying)
  • to generate excitement out of boredom
  • to improve social status within the school
  • fear or confusion about their own sexuality
  • to mimic behavior they see on TV, in movies, or in real life

Unfortunately, many perpetrators of sexual bullying are also victims themselves. They may be sexually abused, bullied, physically abused, or neglected at home. They may lash out against others at school to regain some control in their own lives and target those they perceive as weaker than themselves.

The Effects of Sexual Bullying

Sexual bullying can be harmful with lasting consequences, no matter the age of the victim. Although, social scientists have found that younger victims tend to become repeated victims of assault with more devastating consequences. Children who are sexually bullied are more likely to be physically bullied, cyber-bullied, teased, insulted, shamed, intimidated, shunned, and ostracized by their peers. Any type of bullying can trigger mental health effects like anxiety, depression, and even PTSD. Sexual bullying, in particular, correlates directly with feelings of shame, inadequacy, low self-esteem, confusion, fear, and even suicide. 

More pervasive cases of sexual harassment can register as a trauma. Victims may find the trauma overwhelming to process, denying that it occurred and instead somatizing the experience in physical manifestations like insomnia, muscle aches, headaches, fatigue, high blood pressure, or difficulty with blood sugar regulation. The part of the brain that processes emotions like stress is situated right next to the brain stem, which deals with core involuntary functions like heart rate and breathing. In the long term, patients may suffer from heart issues, autoimmune disease, digestive upsets, metabolic dysfunction, and chronic illnesses.

Laws Regarding (Sexual) Bullying in Schools

By law, all schools are required to provide students with an environment that is free from sexual discrimination and harassment. According to Seth’s Law, your school must have a formal anti-bullying policy and confidential reporting process. Whether you’ve been victimized yourself or you’re witnessing it happen, ask to meet with a trusted teacher, guidance counselor, or school disciplinarian to discuss your experience.  

Furthermore, people working with children have a mandatory duty to protect the youth in their care. California’s Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA) mandates that all school staff members with knowledge or suspicion of child abuse report it to the local police or the child welfare agency and take appropriate corrective action. Failure to do so could result in fines of $1,000 and six months in jail. If a student is severely injured, administrators could spend a year in jail and pay up to $5,000 for failing to report what they knew or suspected was happening on their watch.

You should never be punished for speaking up about sexual bullying at school. You should have access to a safe learning environment and should not be forced to leave school because you are a survivor of sexual assault. If you feel these rights are being violated, you may contact the ACLU for advocacy.

Contact Experienced Bay Area Sexual Assault Attorneys

If you have been the victim of sexual bullying that led to physical sexual assault, you may be entitled to sue for financial compensation to cover medical bills, lost productivity, and an estimated amount of pain and suffering in civil court. The attorneys at Lewis & Llewellyn have successfully represented sexual assault victims who were targeted at school. In some cases, schools that fail to act and allow students to be harmed can be held liable under CANRA and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972.

Our experienced attorneys aim to:

  • ensure you receive the medical attention you need
  • work with outside experts like therapists and doctors
  • uphold your privacy during legal proceedings
  • handle depositions, witness interviews, and complex investigations

For severe cases of sexual assault, we will connect you with the state district attorney’s should you decide to pursue criminal charges against the perpetrator as well. 

Whether you are a parent advocating for your child or a victim of sexual assault, your case deserves to be heard. Lewis & Llewellyn has the experience, grit, and compassion to help you obtain justice and maximum compensation. Contact our team online for support and guidance to see you through this emotional time, or call +1 (415) 800-0590 to schedule an appointment with an advocate today.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this blog or on this website should be construed as legal advice from Lewis & Llewellyn LLP. Neither your receipt of information from this website, nor your use of this website to contact Lewis & Llewellyn LLP creates an attorney-client relationship between you and the firm or any of its lawyers. No reader of this website should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this website without seeking the appropriate legal advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s jurisdiction.

how to cope with sexual abuse

8 Tips for How to Cope With Sexual Abuse

By Blog

When understanding how to cope with sexual abuse, one must understand that what happened is not something they have to get over. In truth, there are no surefire ways to help someone overcome the pain they may be experiencing after surviving an act of sexual violence. But, that doesn’t mean one can’t work toward recovery.

There are many ways survivors may choose to cope with sexual abuse; unfortunately, not all methods are healthy. Here we offer eight tips to point survivors in the direction to seek the help they need and the justice they deserve. 

Tips for How to Cope With Sexual Abuse

Learning how to cope with sexual abuse can be a challenge but these tips from experts and fellow survivors may be able to make the process a bit easier. 

  • Report the Crime: At first, it may be difficult to discuss what happened. If you report the crime to the police and press criminal charges, you may feel a growing sense of empowerment. “I honestly think the thing that got me through it was telling the police right away,” said an 18-year-old survivor from Illinois. 
  • Seek Counseling: There is no substitute for professional counseling. A trained crisis counselor will know the best coping practices, given your unique situation. Speaking with a compassionate expert is particularly important if you experience fear or PTSD.
  • Consider Psychotherapy: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy is a unique form of psychotherapy that uses eight phases to resolve psychological trauma, phobias, anxiety, panic disorders, and body dysmorphic disorders. “I’m blessed to have an amazing therapist. With his guided therapy, I should be capable of conquering my PTSD,” said a 28-year-old survivor from Colorado. 
  • Learn Self-Defense: If you were the victim of date rape or a stranger attack, it’s common to experience fear. Self-defense training is an increasingly popular complement to therapy in restoring confidence and a sense of control. 
  • Find an Outlet: Even if you’re not ready to open up to another person about what happened to you, exploring your feelings through writing can be a powerful way of releasing negative emotions. Reading can also guide you to a better understanding of what has happened and what you can do about it. Some survivors delve deep into a form of art like painting, drawing, dance, or community theater to find release and healthy ways to explore their feelings. “There is something truly profound when you can let go of your pain, mentally and physically, through speech and movement onstage,” explained a 21-year-old survivor from Nevada. 
  • Advocate for Reform: Find a place where you can vent and channel your emotions into meaningful action that could potentially help others. “Exorcising that anger and hate allowed me to venture on the path toward healing,” said the founder of Natasha’s Justice Project. “The amazing people I’ve met on this new path have filled me with joy and gratitude,” she added. 
  • Find Your Purpose: “If I can offer anyone any words of healing, I would say: find your purpose. Anything that hurts you has an equal opportunity to advance you. I’m now a yoga teacher who specializes in trauma-informed yoga for abuse survivors, and I obtained my degree in human services and [a] Masters in psychology. You may feel alone, but you’re not. You’re on a journey. Healing takes time and what was meant to break you will make you,” said a 41-year-old survivor from Ohio.  
  • Seek Litigation: Pressing criminal charges isn’t the only way to seek justice. Even if you decide to press criminal charges, you can also file a civil lawsuit to obtain a recovery for damages suffered or losses incurred as a result of the sexual abuse. 

Bay Area Resources for Sexual Abuse Survivors

There are many organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area that can be a resource for survivors of sexual abuse, including: 

Bay Area Attorneys Know How to Help You Cope With Sexual Abuse  

There is no time limit on the effects of sexual violence. Even if the abuse you suffered happened years ago, sexual assault attorneys may be able to help. An experienced attorney will be able to let you know if your claim falls within the state’s statute of limitations, if there are sufficient grounds to sue for compensation, and where you can find local assistance with your recovery.

Filing a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse can help you cope with sexual abuse and help you obtain:

  • compensation to pay for counseling, substance abuse treatment, medical care, or relocation
  • time off work—without financial worry—to focus solely on healing
  • assistance in the investigation of your case, which can help in criminal proceedings
  • compassion; knowing that someone hears you, believes you, and advocates for you
  • justice; knowing that responsible parties have been held accountable for wrongdoing
Regardless of when the sexual abuse occurred, you deserve support for healing. Lewis & Llewellyn has the experience, grit, and compassion to help you obtain justice and maximum compensation. If you’re wondering how to cope with sexual abuse, contact our team online for support and guidance to see you through this emotional time, or call +1 (415) 800-0590 to schedule an appointment with an advocate today.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this blog or on this website should be construed as legal advice from Lewis & Llewellyn LLP. Neither your receipt of information from this website, nor your use of this website to contact Lewis & Llewellyn LLP creates an attorney-client relationship between you and the firm or any of its lawyers. No reader of this website should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this website without seeking the appropriate legal advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s jurisdiction.

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