The emotional, physical, and mental impact of sexual assault and abuse are far-reaching. Victims struggle for months, even years, after continued abuse or assault. Many victims need medical care that may include physical therapy, counseling, medication, and more. While the treatment can be helpful, the financial cost of such treatment is a burden that the victim should not have to bear.
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What Is Sexual Abuse?
Sexual assault or sexual abuse is unwanted physical contact that is done in a sexual situation or is sexual in nature and is done recklessly and intentionally without the consent of the victim. It may include threats or attempts of unwanted sexual contact that range from kissing to sexual intercourse.
Sexual assault is a criminal offence, even if you do not have physical injuries. Anyone can commit sexual assault or be a victim. Your gender does not matter, and it does not matter if you are in a relationship or not. It is one of the most under-reported crimes.
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Crimes That Constitute Sexual Assault and Abuse
Sexual assault and abuse have always been an issue, but in recent years this type of crime has seen a lot of time in the spotlight. Sadly, the people who seem to be the most at risk for this type of criminal activity are college students, children, and teenagers. Most sexual assault or abuse is perpetrated by a person whom the victim knows – usually a friend, family member, coach, babysitter, teacher, fellow student, or co-worker. When this happens, children especially often fail to realize that they have experienced sexual abuse or assault because they knew the offending person. Examples of sexual abuse or assault include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Coercing a person to partake in a sexual activity
- Sexual contact with the body of a child
- Aggravated sexual assault and sexual battery
- Committing a sexual act with a person who is unable to consent
- Indecent exposure of genitals to a child
- Displaying or creating child pornography
- All acts of incest regardless of consent
- Using alcohol or drugs to assault a person
- “Grooming” a teenager or child
Clearly there are other types of sexual assault and abuse. Any type of sexual act or conduct that takes place without the full consent of two capable adults is sexual assault. Although women are more at risk for this, anyone can be a victim of sexual abuse or assault.
What Are the Legal Options of a Victim?
Many victims of sexual abuse or assault think that calling law enforcement and using criminal law is their only option if they have been assaulted. While calling the police can lead to the person who abused you going to jail, you have additional legal options. There is no right or wrong way to react, and you must make the decision that is best for you. Your options include the following:
- Criminal Injuries Compensation – The CICB, or Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, provides monetary compensation to victims of violent crimes in Ontario, including sexual assault. It is funded by the Ontario government and compensates victims for loss of income, pain and suffering, counseling costs, funeral expenses, and more. You can apply for these benefits whether the person who performed the crime has been charged or convicted. However, you will have to prove that it is more than likely that the sexual abuse happened and that your injuries were due to the crime.
- Professional or Disciplinary Governing Body – Depending on your specific situation, one option for victims of sexual assault or abuse may include reporting the crime to a professional governing body or disciplinary committee. For example, if you were a student at a university and another student or professor assaulted you, you could report it to the university to try to get the professor or student suspended or expelled. If you were assaulted by a professional such as a dentist or doctor, you could report the sexual assault to the appropriate regulatory body that governs their profession. Most professions have licensing boards and strict codes of conduct that they must follow. Failure to act in this manner can result in their license being taken away or suspended.
- Civil Claim – Another legal option if you have been sexually assaulted or abused is to sue your attacker in civil court. This can be done whether or not your attacker has a criminal case pending. A civil action is a private suit between you and the person who victimized you. You can bring a civil lawsuit against someone for sexual assault, deliberately causing you emotional or psychological distress, breach of fiduciary duty if he or she was in a position of power, or vicarious liability if a third-party created a situation that led to your assault. The reason for the civil lawsuit is to get the victim financial compensation for the losses suffered. For example, you may have lost wages for missing work, paid for medical care, or had to replace some of your property that was damaged. A civil lawsuit does not assign criminal responsibility.
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Contact a Thunder Bay Sexual Abuse Injury Lawyer Today
If you have been the victim of a sexual abuse injury, the lawyers at Preszler Injury Law can help ensure that your rights are protected and help you fight for the compensation to which you are entitled. Whether you choose to file a civil claim, seek criminal injuries compensation, or something else, our lawyers can help ensure that your voice is heard. As a victim, you should not have to bear this burden alone. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.