Osborne & Francis: Sex Abuse Attorneys Who Put Victims First
At Osborne & Francis, we’ve made standing up for the injured our life’s work, and we know not all injuries are visible on the surface. Sex abuse cases are among the most sensitive cases we handle and the negative consequences of these crimes can linger for decades, if not a lifetime. Attorneys with our staff understand the unique nature of sex abuse cases, and take great care to avoid any additional trauma when learning the facts of your case and preparing to represent you.
The sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults is all too common. Many times, the process of healing from sexual abuse involves seeking justice in criminal or civil courts. If you are seeking justice following a sexual assault or sexual abuse, lawyers from Osborne & Francis are ready to hear your story and let you know what to expect from the process. Contact us today to learn how we can help you find the justice necessary to begin healing.
How & Where Sexual Abuse Can Occur
The vast majority of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by those who have been entrusted to care for children in some way. According to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, only 7% of abused children were abused by a stranger. Because abusers often use positions of authority to gain access and a certain level of control over children, parents and caregivers should thoroughly investigate facilities or institutions before entrusting their children to their care.
But because a parent’s investigation can’t be expected to eliminate every danger, the institutions or organizations themselves are responsible for preventing sexual abuse through hiring practices and the implementation of reasonable safeguards. But even with these requirements, an estimated 60,000 children a year are abused in the United States. Abuse can occur in a number of places:
- Preschools and daycares
- Medical facilities
- Foster care and group homes
- Facilities used for coached activities
Signs that Sexual Abuse May Be Taking Place
Experts emphasize that you should listen closely to your child if they express a desire to avoid certain places or people. You should also listen to your own instincts. If someone’s behavior and demeanor make you feel uncomfortable or uneasy, there may be a valid reason that could be dangerous to ignore. In addition to these, there are behavioral signs that a child is being abused. They include:
- Attempting to bathe or change clothing
- Reluctance to be left alone with certain people
- Fear of being away from their primary care giver, if this is a new behavior
- Bedwetting for a child that has already outgrown it
- Bad dreams and excessive fearfulness
- Age-inappropriate talk and knowledge of sexual topics
Who Is Liable for Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse and assault are criminal offenses. But many times, due to the nature of the offense, the age of the victim, and the stigma attached to these crimes, they can go unreported for years or decades. A high percentage of abusers never face criminal prosecution because their crimes only come to light after the statute of limitations has expired.
In these cases, a civil lawsuit may be the only course of action for abuse survivors seeking justice. If the abuse took place while the child was in the care of an institution, business, or school that either knew or should have known of the abuse, that organization may be liable for damages. If the organization failed to institute procedures that provided reasonable safeguards against the possibility of sexual abuse, lawyers from Osborne & Francis can help hold them accountable. The institution may be deemed negligent and found liable for damages.
When it comes to institutional sex abuse, attorneys at Osborne & Francis understand the delicate nature of these cases. Those who have experienced sexual abuse may be less likely to seek restitution through a civil action than those injured in an automobile or construction accident, but that shouldn’t be the case. In the wake of the Pennsylvania’s monumental report on the Catholic Church’s history of sexual abuse and cover up tactics, thirteen states, including Florida, have launched investigations into the institutional sexual abuse of children. If you have been victimized by a member of the clergy, contact your state’s attorney general and then contact us to discuss what options are available to hold those responsible accountable.
The Life-Long Effects Of Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse during childhood can have long-lasting effects, some of which can significantly erode the quality of your life as an adult. Some of the long-term effects include:
- Eating disorders
- Body image issues
- Dissociative disorders
- Sexual problems
- Relationship problems
If you have a history of sexual abuse and are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek treatment. Seeking justice through a civil suit may eventually be an important step in healing from sexual abuse, but addressing any ongoing effects that are harming you today is the first step. Once you are ready, contact Osborne & Francis to learn what to expect when you initiate a sexual abuse civil law suit. We’ll explain the process carefully, address any concerns, and be with you through the entire process.
Resources for Sexual Abuse Victims
- RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) Sexual Assault Hotline
- Florida Office of the Attorney General Institutional Sex Abuse Tip Site
- State-by-state review of statutes of limitations for sexual crimes
- Help for Adult Victims of Child Abuse
- Find a Sex Abuse Expert through the American Psychological Association