Sexual Abuse Lawyers Serving Fort Lauderdale
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) has compiled statistics on sexual abuse in the USA. According to the report, one in five US women has been a victim of completed or attempted rape in their lifetime.
Meanwhile, 24.8% of American males reported being victims of contact with sexual violence at some point in their lives. Generally, 9 out of 10 rape victims are females, with most assaults happening at or close to the victims’ homes.
Sexual abuse is the worst violation of trust and humanity there is. The survivors of these crimes suffer terrible consequences that may last a lifetime. The Fort Lauderdale sexual abuse lawyers at Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers are here to hold offenders responsible (by appointment only).
We assist sexual survivors in seeking legal justice in the most convenient ways possible. Call us at (561) 800-8000 right now.What Is Sexual Abuse?
The United States Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) describes sexual abuse as comprising many different behaviors. We couldn’t agree more.
To categorize the numerous sex offenses that fall under sexual abuse, each state utilizes somewhat different terminology in its legislation. Sexual battery, indecent exposure, and molestation are the three basic categories into which Florida law divides sex offenses. Any of these actions carried out on a child or an adult who cannot consent or does not consent is sexual abuse.
Let’s discuss these categories briefly:Sexual Battery
According to Florida laws, sexual battery differs from other types of sexual abuse depending on the element of penetration. In the statute’s wording, sexual battery means “oral, anal, or female genital penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or female genital penetration of another by any other object.” However, this does not include medically-justifiable actions by qualified medical personnel.
Generally, under Florida’s laws, one of the following elements must be present in a bonafide sexual battery case:
- A powerless victim below 18 years, which is Florida’s minimum age of consent
- An offender with knowledge of the victim’s mental health condition and inability to comprehend the nature of a sexual activity
- The offender engages in the sexual activity when the victim is asleep or unconscious
- Perpetrators who threaten force or violence against the victim or their loved ones
- Offenders who administer controlled substances to the victim
- Perpetrators who are aware that another person gave the victims drugs, such as narcotics, anesthetics, or any other substance that affects the victim’s physical or cognitive abilities
- Correctional personnel, police officers, and other people in positions of authority are the perpetrators
Also called exhibition, indecent exposure happens when a perpetrator intentionally masturbates or displays their genitalia in front of someone. Unlike other forms of sexual abuse, the offender doesn’t have to touch or assault the victim to be guilty of indecent exposure. According to Florida laws, this action constitutes lewd or lascivious exposure when the victim is less than 16 years old.Molestation
By Florida’s laws, deliberate sexual contact with a minor's breasts, genitalia, or buttocks constitutes lewd or lascivious molestation. It is also sometimes known as sexual touching. In contrast to sexual battery, lewd molestation is only illegal when the victim is under 16. Molestation can also happen when a perpetrator coerces a minor to touch their genitalia, buttocks, etc., while they are dressed.Signs of Sexual Abuse/Assault
Adults know when they have been abused, but it is different with children. Fortunately, there are tell-tale signs parents must watch out for to determine if their children suffered from sexual abuse. By spotting abuse early on, parents can stop it from becoming more complicated and protect their children from further harm.
You should talk to your children about possible abuse if you detect one or more of these warning signs:
- Unexplained bruises or injury in genital areas
- Moodiness, worry, anxiety, or depression
- Unexplained behavioral shifts
- Poor performance at school
- Lack of interest in academic activities
- Reduced appetite
- Use of drugs and other harmful substances
- Nightmares or insomnia
- Apprehension of specific instructors or persons
- Erratic or aggressive behavior when upset
- Suicidal thoughts
- Too advanced sexual knowledge
- Vulgar or suggestive language
- Unwanted pregnancy
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Low self-esteem
- Strange presents
Parents must understand that children will exhibit different signs of sexual abuse depending on their age and other factors. Guardians should watch for any signs or cues, especially during conversations.
For example, kids could start a discussion about sexual topics or offer hypothetical sexual situations. Parents must always let their children know they will take their sexual abuse complaints seriously and listen to them.Is Sexual Abuse a Criminal or Civil Case?
Both criminal and civil laws apply to sexual abuse. As a result, Fort Lauderdale allows abuse victims to pursue both actions in their quest for justice. Parents might file for their underage children if they were the victim.
In Fort Lauderdale, a victim of abuse may bring a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator even while a criminal investigation is still in progress. As a result, there’s no need to wait until the criminal prosecution is over or the abuser is found guilty by the court.
In a civil action, the victim and their family will seek compensation for damages resulting from the abuse. Meanwhile, criminal prosecution seeks to prosecute the abusers and hold them accountable for the wrongdoing. The victim might benefit much more from filing a civil lawsuit for sexual assault than a criminal case.
For example, civil lawsuits may lead to financial compensation for medical costs, bodily discomfort, emotional distress, mental agony, etc., resulting from the abuse. In addition, Fort Lauderdale courts may also award sexual assault victims punitive damages.
Besides the financial benefits, filing a civil lawsuit against an abuser motivates other victims to seek justice. Additionally, legal actions ensure that the offenders are held responsible.What to Do After Sexual Abuse or Assault
Many victims of sexual abuse or assault, or the families of child victims, may not know what to do. As such, they may end up reducing their chances of success unknowingly.
Here's what families can do to safeguard the rights of their loved ones:
- Seek Medical Attention
All sexual abuse victims should seek medical help after the occurrence. In particular, children under the age of 18 need evaluation to rule out the possibility of STDs or long-term genital injuries.
In these cases, doctors generally provide rape kits for victims soon after an incident. Besides ensuring that the victim doesn't have STDs, rape kits also enable DNA collection to establish evidence of the crime.
- Report the Abuse
The next step after the medical evaluation is to report the incident as soon as possible. It helps speed up the judicial process and ensure that the abuser doesn't harm someone else.
Unfortunately, sexual abuse survivors find it challenging to file a report. This can be due to fear of victimization or thinking that speaking up will cause issues for someone. In many cases, they feel shame and don’t want anyone to know they’ve suffered sexual abuse.
The positive news is that victims have enough time to report their sexual abuse and seek justice. Florida has recently removed the deadline for reporting child sex abuse. As such, child survivors who experienced abuse in the past may seek redress years later. However, to prevent evidence from being damaged or missing, it's important not to wait unnecessarily before filing a lawsuit.
- Speak With an Experienced Fort Lauderdale Sexual Abuse Lawyer
Fort Lauderdale laws have provisions to seek financial compensation for sexual abuse victims. This is the case where there was a breach of the duty of care. For instance, in cases of sexual assault in a nursing home, the victim may be able to sue the facility. Also, the parents of sexual abuse victims can sue their children's schools for negligent actions that made the assault easier.
However, the road to financial compensation in sexual abuse cases can be rocky. Contact our Fort Lauderdale sexual abuse attorneys to help you navigate through the legal process and schedule a complimentary consultation (by appointment only).What Are the Signs of a Sexual Abuser?
Parents may find it easier to defend their children if they can recognize potential behavioral indicators of sex abusers. They can also prevent future abuse by keeping their children away from those who exhibit abusive conduct. Guardians should observe such behavior and report them immediately to help safeguard children who may be at risk.
While there are many signs of an abuser, these are the most common ones to watch out for:
- Adults Who Are Too Close to Children
Generally, coaches, teachers, and family members may spend quality time with kids — that’s okay. This is due to their natural roles in the child’s life. However, if an adult goes beyond that and spends too much unnecessary time with them, be alert. Such adults may be grooming them for abuse, especially if they do this in the absence of other people.
Grade, middle, or high school-aged kids are at risk for sexual misconduct. This is because these sexual predators usually have a limited circle of friends their age and form intimate relationships with kids.
- People Who Create Dependency
A sexual abuser may start coaxing their target victim into intimacy through dependency. They might be attentive at first, showering the person with gifts, compliments, calls, and texts. As a result, the victim begins to believe that they share a special connection with the predator.
Subsequently, the offender begins to view the abuser as the only one who truly understands, values, and cares about them. They start thinking they alone can offer something that no one else can. This fosters a sense of loyalty and vulnerability that the sexual predator can subsequently exploit.
- Adults Who Use Manipulative Language
A possible sexual offender may employ manipulation in trapping their victims. They start by making fun of the victim’s actions, demeanor, attire, friends, or other facets of their private lives.
Next, they make light of the situation, giving the victim the impression that they are to blame. Instead of apologizing for their wrong behavior, they confuse the victim into thinking they're the mean ones.
This manipulative technique comes from sexual predators and has a name — gaslighting. Gaslighting makes the victim doubt their recollection and sanity to suit the predator’s perception.
- People Who Don’t Respect Boundaries
Sexual predators could overstep acceptable limits. It may start with seemingly gentle touches to the hand, leg, or back. However, it can progress to impermissible vaginal, breast, or even fondling without the victim’s consent.
If the predator and victim are already dating, they might violate established boundaries or neglect to obtain permission. They can also manipulate the victim into performing uncomfortable actions.
Such activities include hugging, caressing, wiping a child off with a towel, changing their clothes, or rubbing their leg. Often, the offenders graduate from these into more serious sexual activity.
In the case of children, the predator might introduce and normalize the child’s perception of sex early on. They may be able to start sexual behavior by claiming it’s a “game.” Next, they start talking to the child about sex, making provocative comments, showing them pornography, forcing them to get naked, etc.
- Individuals With Controlling or Narcissistic Behaviors
The sexual predator is frequently possessive and envious of acquaintances, family members, and other love interests. As a result, they might keep an eye on the victim’s daily routine, private life, and social media activity.
This can quickly reach the point where the predator starts to exert control. They typically restrict victims’ interactions with people of the opposite sex.What Roles Do Fort Lauderdale Sexual Abuse Lawyers Play in a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?
Regardless of age, survivors may find it difficult to cope with the trauma of sexual assault. If you are a survivor’s parent or an adult survivor, you can relate to the difficulties and may even experience similar sentiments of guilt or shame. However, victims must know they’re never responsible for their sexual assault, regardless of the circumstances.
Filing a lawsuit as a sexual abuse victim may not take away your pain. However, it ensures that you don’t suffer more by bearing the burden of this act. It also ensures that the offender is held responsible for their actions and protects future victims.
Fortunately, our Fort Lauderdale sexual abuse lawyers can make the process easy for you (by appointment only). Here are some instances where our attorneys can help your sexual abuse case:
Our seasoned sexual abuse lawyers will examine every essential detail of your case to gather evidence against the perpetrator. We’ll also carry out investigations when necessary for the same purpose. Our investigative duties include obtaining police reports and medical records and supporting our clients’ cases. If applicable, we’ll also gather evidence from an ongoing criminal trial.
Sometimes, we’ll locate and speak with eyewitnesses or other victims of sexual abuse by the same offender. We’ll also consult with professionals, especially medical professionals and psychologists, who can discuss the effects of your abuse.
We know that some victims of sexual assault will be hesitant to come out because they wish to maintain their anonymity. As reputable and skilled lawyers, we go above and beyond to protect our client’s confidentiality and anonymity.
A civil action against your abuser can result in a decision in your favor as the plaintiff or your abuser's favor as the defendant. If the judgment is in your favor, you may receive financial damages for physical and emotional damages.
Nevertheless, not all sex abuse cases end up in court. Some survivors opt to have a lawyer handle their claims rather than go to trial. Many times, it’s to remain anonymous or avoid having to relive the horrible events by testifying in court. In these cases, our Fort Lauderdale sexual abuse lawyers will leverage their negotiation skills to help you reach a settlement (by appointment).
When parties to a sexual assault case cannot settle, our attorneys will offer you quality legal representation. Our lawyers will fight for you regardless of how difficult your case is. We’ll improve the chances that the court will decide in your favor if anyone contests your claim.
Sometimes, a survivor might opt for a lawsuit believing that going to court is necessary for rehabilitation. They might feel better seeing their abuser held accountable in public for their acts without criminal charges.
Other times, their abuser won’t accept responsibility or agree to a fair resolution. All of these arguments support going to trial. A courtroom trial gives victims the chance to confront their perpetrators.Contact Our Fort Lauderdale Sexual Abuse Lawyers ASAP
Are you prepared to make your sexual abuser pay for the damages they caused you? So are we. At Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers, we believe that those who misuse their position of trust and power must be accountable for their actions. They’ll carry on their dastardly actions if they go free until someone intervenes.
That’s why we’ve taken it as our primary duty to protect you and potential victims from these acts of sexual misconduct. Our sexual abuse lawyers will fight aggressively for your rights and help you seek monetary compensation for your pain.
Contact us at your earliest convenience for a free and confidential case review at (561) 800-8000.