8 Things You Should Know About Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is defined as an act in which a person touches another person, in a sexual way, without consent. It may include any type of coercion into a sexual act or physically forcing a person to engage in a sexual act against their will. There are many different types of sexual assault, ranging from unwanted groping to rape. As sexual assault crimes can be broad, it can be hard to distinguish what rights a victim has in the eyes of the law. If you have been a victim of sexual assault, here’s what you should know.
1. You Probably Know the Perpetrator
Research has shown that 60 percent of rape survivors know the person who raped them, while 32 percent were raped by romantic partners. Only 8 percent were raped by total strangers. While most TV shows and movies lead you to believe that sexual assaults only happen in dark alleys at night by strangers, this is not a true depiction. You are more likely to be raped by a friend, family member, co-worker, teacher, coach, or other person you know than by a total stranger. Remember that no matter what the circumstances surrounding the assault were, the victim is never to blame.
2. Sexual Assault is a Prevalent Crime
You likely hear news stories about sexual assault every day. Statistics show that an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. Younger people are at a higher risk of sexual violence, and women are more likely to be sexually assault then men. The statistics regarding the aftermath of a sexual assault crime are also staggering. Nearly 94 percent of women who are raped will experience some symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder within the first few weeks of the incident. An estimated 30 percent will continue to experience symptoms nine or more months after the rape.
3. Many Victims Never Tell Anyone About the Assault
While sexual assault may be highly prevalent in today’s society, many victims are too afraid to speak up and tell others about the assault. Given the horrific nature of the crime, it is understandable for the victims to feel the way that they do. However, failure to notify law officials can be harmful to both the victim and to other people who may become victims if the perpetrator is not rightfully punished for his or her crimes. Some victims fail to report sexual assault, as they may think that no one will believe them. However, falsified reports make up only 2 percent of reported sexual violence crimes.
4. Damage Caused by Sexual Assault Isn’t Just Physical
Those who experience sexual assault not only have visible scars from the experience, but also emotional ones. Survivors of sexual assault are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, contemplate suicide, and suffer from depression.
5. Sexual Assault Can Occur Even with Consent
Consent is a major topic surrounding sexual assault cases. In the majority of cases, when a person fails to consent to a sexual act it is treated as assault. In other words, “no” means “no.” However, there are some circumstances where a sexual act is considered assault or rape even when the victim gave consent. This generally occurs when the victim is under age or when the victim does not have the mental capacity to consent. Victims may be physically or mentally helpless and are not able to consent, such as when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol or become unconscious.
6. Sexual Assault Should Always Be Reported Immediately
After experiencing a sexual assault, the last thing you probably want to do is get questioned by the police. However, reporting the crime immediately is crucial if you want to have a better case against the perpetrator later on. Avoid showering or bathing directly after the assault. Skin cells, hair, and clothing fibers from your assailant may still be on you and this DNA could help your case. Call 911 immediately after the incident and explain to the police what happened. Calling the police immediately can also make your case stronger.
7. It’s Never Too Late to Report an Assault
Although it’s best to report a sexual assault directly after it happens, know that it’s never too late to report such an incident. Many victims will come forward days, weeks, and sometimes even years later. As more time passes, the evidence will be less strong. However, an experienced sexual assault lawyer can still build a case with the information he has. If you plan to report a sexual assault case that happened in the past, try to remember as many details as possible and present evidence if you have it.
8. You Have the Right to Press Charges
After suffering from a sexual assault, you may feel helpless. Know that you have the legal right to press charges against your perpetrator and pursue your case in a criminal court if desired. If you do decide to go to court, you may be legally required to testify, but you may not be required to be face to face with your assailant. Bringing a case to civil court requires that you find and hire a qualified lawyer to handle your case and represent you in court.
Hiring an Experienced Sexual Assault Lawyer
Sexual assault lawyers provide legal representation to survivors of sexual assault, rape, or sexual harassment. They often refer to themselves as “crime victim” attorneys and can help you file a civil court case against the perpetrator and any additional parties involved in the crime. While it may be difficult to seek help after suffering from such an awful ordeal, moving forward and getting justice for the crimes committed against you is often an effective way to start the healing process. You may also find some solace knowing that the perpetrator can no longer hurt other people. If you or a loved one has suffered from any type of sexual assault, contact an Atlanta personal injury lawyer at The Dixon Firm.