Over the last ten years, the population of Phoenix has grown to over 1.7 million people. Of these people, the ratio of men and women is pretty close to even – 50.19% women to 49.81% men. In large populations lies the risk of increased sexual abuse and assault cases. Sadly, across the United States, including Arizona, many of these cases do not get reported to authorities.
Out of 1000 sexual assaults, approximately 995 of the perpetrators will walk free. Two hundred thirty of these are reported to the police, and only 46 lead to an arrest. Why do so many of these crimes go unreported?
- The fear of retaliation
- The belief that the police would not do anything
- The belief that it was a person of social standing
- Didn’t want to get anyone in trouble
- Fear of no one believing them
- They considered themselves to blame for the crime
These reasons are only the beginning of the reasons that victims of these egregious crimes do not report them. Overall, the fear and the trauma of the experience was enough for them to live through once, they don’t want to have to relive it and the embarrassment brought from it over and over.
Experienced legal teams understand all of the feelings that are circulating in the head of a prospective client who has undergone such a traumatic event. These professionals should be willing to help the victim from beginning to end, putting as little stress on them as possible during the process. In most circumstances, the victim should only need to recount the events for one lawyer within the firm. This lawyer will follow the case from start to finish. There are two other scenarios where the victim may have to go before the court – once with the judge to determine if the case should proceed to trial and one more time in front of the jury (if the case goes that far). Depending on circumstances, a settlement agreement might be considered to refrain from exposing the victim to more trauma.
Keep in mind that a positive outcome in a criminal case is not necessary for an experienced personal injury lawyer to win a civil case.
Arizona Sexual Abuse and Assault
Too often, people confuse what sexual abuse and sexual assault are. The terms may be used interchangeably to describe sexually violent crimes, but the truth is that they are two different terms used to determine the population affected by the crime.
Sexual Abuse – Crimes of sexual abuse involve non-consensual sexual acts against vulnerable populations. The definition of a vulnerable population describes children, the elderly, the disabled, and anyone who is not considered able to consent to sexual acts on their own.
Sexual Assault – Crimes of sexual assault involve non-consensual sexual acts committed by one adult against another adult. These crimes often involve unwanted touching, fondling, or penetration by the perpetrator against the victim.
With so many people not reporting these sexually violent acts, it becomes the responsibility of those around them to identify the signs and support these victims if they suspect that sexual abuse or assault has occurred.
Although these signs may indicate any number of crisis in someone’s lives, it is possible that sexual abuse and assault signs may manifest as:
- Signs of depression or anxiety when there were no symptoms before – depression and anxiety present as a lack of energy, extreme fatigue, persistent sadness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and withdrawing from normal activities
- Self-harming behaviors, thoughts of suicide, and even attempts of suicide
- Signs of low self-esteem, especially when these signs were not present before a suspected traumatic event
- Excessive worrying about situations that didn’t seem to be present before
- Avoidance of specific places, people, or scenarios
- Increase in drug and alcohol abuse
- The presence of sexually transmitted diseases without the presence of sexual promiscuity
If you suspect that someone has been the victim of sexual abuse or assault, provide them with support. Avoid making assumptions about the circumstances and help them to come forward while feeling safe.
Legal professionals should take the same approach with clients who have undergone such traumatic experiences. Victims of these egregious crimes are often vulnerable emotionally, physically, and mentally. They are searching for a safe place, and within the legal setting, the lawyers’ office should be that place.
Steps To Take After Sexual Abuse or Assault
Once the initial report is made to the authorities, charges may be pressed against the perpetrator if there is sufficient evidence in the case. Many of the criminal cases that have charges drawn against them result in plea bargains between the District Attorney’s office and the representation for the perpetrator. Many of these plea bargains result in reduced sentences for guilty pleas, negating the requirement to go to trial.
The possible lawsuits that can be filed in sexual abuse and assault cases do not end with criminal charges. In these cases, victims may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries (physical and mental) sustained as a result of the abuse or assault.
To determine if civil lawsuits can be brought against a perpetrator or other liable party for negligence, a personal injury lawyer needs to be contacted. Not all personal injury lawyers in Phoenix or the surrounding areas handle cases pertaining to sexual abuse and assault. These types of cases require delicate approaches. Not all personal injury lawyers have experienced staff that can address the needs of cases like this in Phoenix.
Civil Lawsuits in Sexual Abuse and Assault Cases
Personal injury lawyers who handle sexual abuse and assault cases can be beneficial to victims and their loved ones. Civil cases are different circumstances than criminal cases. These types of cases seek compensatory damages, not physical punishment. The defendants in these cases can be perpetrators or other liable parties. The damages collected can be economic and non-economic.
Economic Damages – Economic damages are quantifiable expenses, ones that can be measured and presented to the court for compensation. These types of expenses are medical bills, therapy bills, rehabilitative costs, and lost wages. The courts then review these expenses and determine if the monetary damages are compensable for the crime.
Non-Economic Damages – Non-economic damages are those damages that cannot have a monetary amount attached to them. These damages are often determined for pain, suffering, and traumatic stress due to sexual abuse and assault.
The lawyers who handle these types of cases can help victims collect the compensation they may be entitled to. There may be more than one party liable when it comes to handling these types of cases – an experienced Phoenix personal injury lawyer knows this.
What to Look For in an Arizona Sexual Abuse and Assault Lawyer
Not all personal injury lawyers who handle Phoenix sexual abuse and assault cases are made the same. There are specific traits that you should look for when hiring one of these legal professionals. Ask yourself these questions as you speak with one of these firms to see how they measure up:
- Are they willing to listen to my story without interrupting me or telling me what I should do?
- Do I feel comfortable enough talking to them to tell them the circumstances about the sexual abuse or assault?
- What past experience do they have handing cases of sexual abuse and assault?
- Are they licensed and a part of the state bar?
- How much knowledge do they have on sexual abuse and sexual assault cases?
- Are they aggressive enough in the courtroom to fight for your rights?
These are just some of the traits that can help determine if a personal injury lawyer will benefit your case. There are many different lawyers in the Phoenix area, but not all of them offer the same types of counsel, making these questions even more crucial to winning your case.
TorkLaw is the Answer for Phoenix Sexual Abuse and Assault Lawsuits
There are many different personal injury lawyers in Phoenix and the surrounding areas that are able to handle cases that collect monetary compensation for clients in personal injury cases. Not all of these firms have the same experience and supportive nature that TorkLaw does for the victims of sexually violent crimes. Our legal team has prior experience handling these types of cases and putting together a proper foundation to gain maximum monetary compensation for our clients.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of sexual abuse or assault crime in Phoenix or the surrounding Arizona area, we urge you to call upon our expert legal staff. The law offices of TorkLaw offer FREE and confidential case consultations, allowing you to discuss your case with us in a manner that makes you feel comfortable. Reach us by phone at 888.845.9696 or fill out the contact form online. We know how difficult it can be for a victim to come forward, and we do nothing that you are not comfortable with.
When you need a legal professional that can help you collect the economic and non-economic damages available to you, call on TorkLaw for representation.