Each year, countless individuals from all walks of life face sexual violence. These incidents often leave a lasting impression on victims’ lives.
While many perpetrators of sexual abuse are charged with crimes, many aren’t. It makes plenty of sense that you would want to hold the person who violated your trust and personal space accountable for what they did. Fortunately, Georgia and federal laws allow you to take civil legal action in situations like yours. A Macon sexual abuse lawyer at our law firm, Bey & Associates, can help you file a lawsuit to recover compensation for what you’re having to deal with.
What Sexual Abuse Is
The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) defines sexual violence, a broader category into which sexual abuse falls, as any act, such as the following, that occurs without the victim’s prior consent:
- Verbal sexual harassment
- Threats of sexual violence
- An attempted or completed rape
- Unwanted touching
The list above is only some of the many actions that may fall under the umbrella of sexual abuse in Georgia. So too may sexually-oriented behavior, including:
- Child pornography or molestation
- Human sexual trafficking
- Statutory rape scenarios in which Georgia’s Romeo and Juliet law applies (this law states that a teen must be at least 16 to consent to sexual contact with a peer 18 or younger)
- Requesting or circulating intimate photographs of others
In terms of the latter, a new federal law, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022, went into effect on Oct. 1, 2022, giving “revenge porn” victims the right to file a civil lawsuit demanding monetary damages against someone who engages in the unauthorized distribution of intimate images of them. This law also allows judges to enter rulings prohibiting the future dissemination of such materials to others.
If you have been subjected to what you deem to be sexually inappropriate treatment, whether they’re acts described above or something else, then you may want to consult with a Macon sexual abuse lawyer from Bey & Associates to discuss the specifics surrounding your case.
You may discover that the treatment you endured allows you to file a sexual abuse claim against your alleged perpetrator or the owner of the location where your mistreatment occurred. You may be able to recover compensation for what you’ve been through by taking such legal action.
How Often Does Sexual Abuse Occur?
According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), approximately 463,634 Americans fall victim to sexual violence yearly across our country.
RAINN statistics highlight how sexual abuse doesn’t discriminate. Individuals from all walks of life, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, ethnicity or race, age group, religion, or socioeconomic status, are not safe, although the risk factors some populations face are surely higher for some than others, such as:
- Individuals aged 18-34: At least 54% of sexual assault victims fall into this age bracket.
- Women: One out of every six women faces an attempted or completed rape during their lifetime.
- Male college students aged 18-24: This population has five times the chance of being sexually assaulted or raped than their non-student counterparts.
- Native Americans: This population is twice as likely to face a sexual assault as any other population.
- Military service members: Some of the most recent statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Defense (as reported by RAINN) show that 20,500 active service members fell victim to sexual violence in 2018.
- Prisoners: RAINN statistics suggest that a staggering 80,600 incarcerated individuals face sexual violence annually in U.S. jails or prisons. At least 60% of those acts are carried out by correctional facility staff members. At least one-half of those acts are non-consensual.
- Transgender or gender-non-conforming male college students: This population has a 17% higher chance of someone sexually assaulting them than cis-gender individuals.
Other statistics compiled by RAINN highlight how someone the victim knows commits at least 80% of all rapes. It’s unclear if other acts of sexual violence are committed by perpetrators known to victims.
The Impact Sexual Abuse Can Have on Victims in Macon, GA
Sexual abuse can leave behind a lasting impression on a victim’s life no matter what type of ill-treatment they endured or their age when they were subjected to the illicit acts. According to RAINN, the following is true about Individuals who’ve been subjected to sexual violence:
- An estimated 38% of individuals who face sexual violence end up having what’s deemed as significant problems with peers, colleagues, or bosses at school or work
- Their likelihood of using marijuana, cocaine, or hard drugs is 3.4, 6, and 10 times higher, respectively, than those individuals not subjected to sexual violence
- At least 94% of women who are raped experience post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms within two weeks of being raped (at least 30% continue to experience similar symptomology nine months after such an incident)
- Approximately 37% of those who are subjected to sexual violence find it easier to become embroiled in arguments with friends and family members after what happened to them, resulting in decreased closeness with those individuals
Anxiety and depression, either severely impacting a victim’s quality of life or resulting in suicidal ideation or attempted suicide are also commonplace among sexual abuse victims.
If there’s one detail you need to know about sexual abuse, it’s not your fault. You don’t have to feel like you just have to “settle” or “deal” with what happened to you. You can seek some semblance of justice for what you’ve been through. One of the ways our legal system in Georgia allows sexual abuse victims to do that is by filing a civil lawsuit.
Where Does Sexual Abuse Happen?
While it would seem likely that a significant percentage of sexual violence incidents would occur in a victim’s home, vehicle, or another private location if it were true that most of these acts are carried out by a known perpetrator, as is the case with rape, that’s not the only place these incidents occur. Sexual violence can happen at:
- Shopping centers and malls
- Apartment complexes
- Gas stations
- Office buildings
- Movie theaters
- Schools, daycares, and universities
- Public parks
- Massage studios
- Public restrooms
- Jails and prisons
- Entertainment venues
- Rest stops
- Parking lots or garages
- Hospitals and doctors’ offices
- Gyms or fitness centers
As you can likely tell, there are no limits on the places where someone intent on sexually abusing a victim might engage in their illicit actions.
Who Commits Sexual Abuse in Macon, GA?
There are various situations in which sexual abuse may occur, potentially making you or a loved one eligible to file a lawsuit to recover compensation. Those scenarios in which someone may take advantage of an opportunity and commit an act of sexual violence include:
- A government representative subjecting you to sexual abuse: A law enforcement officer may feel they can get by with sexually abusing someone during a traffic stop, interrogation, or booking into jail. Additionally, government officials, such as local politicians or public services managers, may believe that their role gives them the power to sexually assault others without fearing repercussions for doing so.
- A professional inflicting sexual abuse upon you: This may happen in various ways, such as when visiting a doctor or therapist, while undergoing a massage, when a repair person visits your home, while seeking religious guidance from a pastor, as your elderly loved one is being cared for in a nursing home, or in the workplace.
- Negligent security created an environment permissive of sexual abuse: Inadequately secured premises, such as poorly lit parking lots, an apartment complex that is not fenced in or doesn’t have well-manicured landscaping, or an office building without surveillance cameras, security guards, or working locks are all examples of scenarios in which a would-be criminal or another person with ulterior motives may subject you to sexual abuse.
- Someone sexually abuses your child: While we trust that individuals in certain positions such as teachers, priests, day care workers, Girl or Boy Scout leaders, mentors and coaches, school bus drivers, camp counselors, medical providers, and foster care parents will look out for the best interests of our kids and not hurt them, that’s, unfortunately, not always what happens, but instead, these individuals take advantage of kids’ vulnerabilities and trusting nature and sexually abuse them, leaving a destructive impact on their lives.
Would-be perpetrators often take advantage of areas they know that don’t have security guards or surveillance cameras or have poor lighting or untrimmed bushes as examples to lie in wait for their unsuspecting victims. Others are bold enough to try to blend in in hopes that they’ll fly under the radar and then subject their victim to unwanted treatment, thinking no one will suspect them of doing anything wrong. Then some are too consumed by their position of authority that they believe their victims won’t report what happened and, even if they do, no one will believe them.
In Georgia, there is a criminal legal system and the civil one. While it’s up to prosecutors to decide whether to charge a suspect with sexual abuse or assault, that has nothing to do with your ability to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person you allege subjected you to unwanted treatment.
Georgia personal injury law, and more specifically, premises liability or nursing home abuse laws, may allow you to seek compensation for what you’ve been through. Other state and federal laws, some of which were highlighted above, may also allow you to do the same.
The Connection Between Sexual Abuse and Georgia Premises Liability Laws
Georgia premises liability laws outline one primary responsibility that Macon property owners have, which is to ensure their property is reasonably safe for their visitors. Doing so may involve taking steps such as:
- Having security guards or other viable measures in place if there are known crime and safety issues that pose a threat to those who frequent their premises.
- Ensuring locks get changed between tenants or repairing locks immediately if apartment entry doors can’t be securely shut
If a property owner fails to take the above-referenced reasonable steps to minimize the chances of someone getting hurt and harm befalls them (such as a sexual assault), then Georgia premises liability laws may allow you, as the victim, to file a civil lawsuit against the property owner to recover damages to aid in your recovery.
Your ability to recover compensation following a sexual assault is contingent upon the nature of your presence on someone else’s premises. There are three categories into which you may fall, including
While Georgia property owners are seen as owing a duty of care, thus requiring them to take reasonable measures to keep you safe if you’re either an invitee or licensee, that’s not necessarily the case with a trespasser.
It can be helpful to consult with a Macon sexual assault attorney here at Bey & Associates as to why you were at the place where you were harmed as you decide how to move forward in your potential legal case.
Sexual Abuse and Georgia Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Laws
Nursing home staff have an obligation to ensure the safety and wellbeing of a loved one. If a nursing home is negligent in screening staff or visitors, it’s possible that a resident may fall victim to sexual abuse. It may be possible for a resident or a close loved one to file a claim against the nursing home on the resident’s behalf to recover compensation if such a scenario occurs.
Damages You Can Collect by Filing a Macon Sexual Abuse Lawsuit
The amount of damages you can recover as a victim of a sexual assault is much the same as any person who files a premises liability type of personal injury lawsuit. You would be eligible for both economic and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages may include any medical bills and lost wages that may have mounted as you attempted to cope after your sexual assault. This means that whether you suffered physical injuries during the assault or what you endured affected your mental health, you may be able to recover compensation to pay for your emergency room or primary care physician treatment or to see a therapist, if necessary. Also, if you missed work as you were reeling from what you went through, you may be able to request those lost earnings when you file a premises liability claim against the negligent property owner where your incident occurred.
As for noneconomic damages, this refers to non-quantifiable losses you may have sustained from your sexual assault, such as:
- Physical pain or discomfort
- A loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish or emotional distress
- A loss of companionship
If you happen to see a therapist after your assault, then notes from these sessions can come in handy in helping you establish how significantly the treatment you were subjected to impacted your life. Otherwise, it can be helpful if you’ve kept a journal of the day-to-day impact your sexual assault has had on you. Similar accounts from relatives can also be of value when your Macon sexual assault attorney makes a demand for noneconomic losses such as the ones described above on your behalf.
One additional type of damages you may be able to recover if you’ve fallen victim to a sexual assault in Macon, GA is punitive damages. These are generally awarded by a judge in situations in which a property owner showed particular disregard for the safety of their visitors, which left them at a higher risk of getting hurt.
It’s important that you know that recovering compensation is far more challenging than it may seem on the surface. Most property owners or their insurance companies will aggressively try to deny their liability for a sexual assault that happened on their premises to keep from having to make a big payout. They’ll try every which way to place the blame on you, even if that means trying to taint your reputation.
Our Macon sexual assault lawyers know insurers’ and property owners’ tactics. We’ll stand up for you and your rights and not back down no matter what they do or say. We’re committed to seeking justice on your behalf and won’t back down until we attain that for you.
Why You Should Reach Out to a Macon Sexual Abuse Lawyer for Help
If you’ve faced sexual violence, there’s a strong potential that you’re still dealing with many of the adverse symptoms described above or have done so in the past. If you have been fortunate enough to not have experienced them yet, there’s the potential for a triggering event to happen in the future, causing these adverse feelings, behaviors, or addictions to emerge in the future.
You deserve to recover a monetary settlement to help you pay for the care you’ve needed or may need in the future and penalize any responsible parties for their negligence, so hopefully, they won’t repeat what they did (or allowed to happen) ever again. A Macon sexual abuse lawyer from Bey & Associates will aggressively fight to recover full compensation for you to communicate the gravity of the situation. Reach out to our Georgia law offices to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today.