For victims, sexual abuse is often the worst thing that they will ever undergo. Abuse involves any type of unwanted sexual contact. Sexual abuse can take a number of forms and can involve both children and adults.
Victims of sexual abuse in Ottawa might not know or understand what is happening. Victims might also understand the severity of the abuse but be afraid of what the abuser will do if the victim comes forward to report it.
The abuser can be a close friend, teacher, family member, or conversely, the abuser can also be a total stranger. One commonality of all types of sexual abuse is that victims tend to face complications from the incident for years or even decades to come. Because our courts take sexual abuse seriously, it is possible for victims to pursue compensation in either a civil or criminal court of law.
If you are considering filing a civil claim following sexual abuse, you need the help of a compassionate and experienced sexual abuse lawyer in Ottawa. Reach out to the lawyers at Preszler Law for assistance in seeking the justice you deserve for the harm done to you.
Our sexual abuse injury lawyers can meet with you in Ottawa for a free initial consultation. Call (416) 364-2000
Legal Actions in Ontario Following Abuse
In Ontario civil courts, victims often pursue either assault or battery cases. Assault does not involve force but instead is characterized by placing a victim in fear of being harmed. Battery includes cases in which a person uses force to sexually abuse another individual. The degree of force involved can range from light to substantial. Some sexual abuse victims also pursue breach of fiduciary duty claims. These claims are particularly common when an adult breaches his or her duty of care to a child.
If an employer or entity failed to adequately oversee a worker who committed abuse, it is also possible to pursue a negligence claim.
The Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse Cases
For many years, the statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases in Ontario was two years, which is the window of time permitted for filing many other types of personal injury cases.
In recognition of additional research that was performed on the lasting effects of sexual abuse, Ontario courts changed this limitation and removed the two-year window for sexual abuse cases. Today, sexual abuse victims in Ontario are able to initiate legal claims regardless of when the abuse occurred.
Compensation for Sexual Abuse Damage
Sexual abuse victims in Ontario are able to pursue compensation for a number of different damages, which include:
- Loss of earning capacity. Compensation in this category is based on what a victim would have earned had they not been subject to sexual abuse. The amount of compensation can be particularly large if a child is involved. Victims of sexual abuse turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to cope and are thus not able to hold down a job or earn the money they otherwise would have. This compensation is designed to make up for these hardships.
- Pain and suffering. This type of compensation is intended to repay victims for any pain and suffering that they endured as a result of sexual abuse. While no amount of money can make up for the emotional hardships that sexual assault victims face, this compensation can at least partially make up for these damages. Unfortunately, in Ontario and the rest of Canada, this type of damage is capped at $392,000.
- Punitive damages. The purpose of this category of damages is to penalize individuals who committed sexual abuse. While rarely awarded in Canada, there is a possibility that these damages might be included in a sexual abuse case.
Testifying at Sexual Abuse Trials
One of the biggest challenges that victims and their loved ones face in pursuing compensation for sexual abuse is testifying about the events in court. Even though it can be challenging to testify about sexual abuse in the criminal complaint, this can be a powerful way to bolster a civil case. This testimony is often a helpful step, although not required, in obtaining compensation.
An experienced sexual abuse lawyer will often rely on testimony from medical experts concerning the mental and physical changes that a victim experienced as a result of sexual abuse.
Ottawa Sexual Abuse Injury Lawyer Near Me (416) 364-2000
Spotting Signs of Sexual Abuse in Victims
The most significant warning signs to look out for in the victims of sexual assault and abuse are psychological changes in that person’s personality. This can manifest in victims who are quick to anger, have low self-esteem, or fall into substantial periods of depression.
These changes occur because a victim’s confidence and self-image are often negatively impacted by abuse. Other times, victims might display anti-social or withdrawn behaviour.
Some physical symptoms including sudden and substantial weight gain or a decline in hygiene are indicative that a person has undergone sexual trauma.
Ways to Support Sexual Abuse Victims
There are a number of things that you can do to support sexual abuse victims, which include the following:
- It is often difficult for sexual abuse victims to speak about the incident. As a result, you can do a great deal of good by supporting the person, whether they choose to discuss the incident with you or not.
- You should emphasize to the victim that they did not do anything to cause the abuse and that it is not their fault. Survivors frequently blame themselves.
- Offer to listen to the sexual abuse victim if they need an ear to express their emotions. You should also encourage the individual to seek professional help.
- Many sexual abuse victims are left with post-traumatic stress disorder. You should continue to support the victim, even after any scars or bruises from the event have faded.
- Do not order or force the victim to do anything. Victims are often left feeling powerless and this type of behaviour only adds to this emotion.
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Speak with an Experienced Sexual Abuse Lawyer
If you or your child has been the victim of sexual assault, it is critical to promptly speak with a compassionate Ontario sexual abuse lawyer.
At Preszler Law Firm, we understand just how devastating sexual abuse can be. That is why we remain committed to fighting for the results that victims deserve. Contact our law office today to schedule a free initial case evaluation.