There are many reasons why victims of child sexual abuse may stay silent about the horrors they experienced for years—or possibly the rest of their lives. In recent months, the #MeToo movement online has inspired millions of people to share their experiences of sexual assault, including sex abuse as children. While many people sharing #MeToo stories are college students and adults, the #MeTooK12 hashtag encourages young students to come forward and report incidents of sexual misconduct in schools, as well as in life outside of school. As a result of these movements, many people of all ages are reporting that they suffered sexual abuse as children.
The question then remains: what can we do to help these child sexual abuse survivors find justice? While authorities may be able to bring criminal charges against the sex abuser, these cases can do little to compensate victims for the physical, mental, and emotional harm they suffered. To hold abusers and organizations fully responsible, a civil claim may be filed in many cases to seek financial recovery for a victim’s abuse-related losses. While money can never turn back time and change what happened, it can help a child sexual abuse victim move forward with greater financial security and a sense of justice.
The possibility of a claim can depend on the current age of the sexual abuse victim, as states do have statutes of limitations on civil lawsuits. Oregon has a significantly more generous statute of limitations for claims arising from child abuse, given the commonality of victims not reporting the abuse until much later in life.
A civil claim can still be pursued even if the abuser was not convicted of a crime. A conviction may not occur if the statute of limitations for criminal charges has expired. In addition, the burden of proof is much higher in criminal cases, which means there is still the possibility of proving the abuse and harm in civil court even if a prosecutor did not prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
By filing a civil claim, you can seek the following damages and more:
- Any expenses or financial losses stemming from the abuse, such as therapy or medical costs
- Emotional distress
- Ongoing trauma, pain, and suffering
If an organization—such as a church, camp, school, or scouting group—negligently allowed the abuse to occur, you may also be able to file a claim against that organization.
A Dedicated Portland Child Sexual Abuse Injury Attorney is Here to Help
Whether you or your child decide to bravely come forward as a result of the #MeToo movement or for another reason, know that the Richard Rizk Law Office in Portland is ready to help you. We can evaluate the possibility of seeking compensation and holding an abuser fully responsible for their severely harmful actions. Consultations are free and completely confidential, and our attorneys understand how difficult this subject can be. Please call (503) 245-5677 or use our online contact form to learn how our compassionate legal team can help you and your family.