Sexual assault is a traumatizing experience. An American is sexually assaulted every 73 seconds. One out of every six women and one of every 33 men are the survivors of an attempted or completed rape.
The #MeToo movement has galvanized action regarding sexual assault. Survivors of sexual abuse have the resources to challenge their perpetrators in court. Hiring a sexual assault lawyer is important, but not everyone knows how a lawyer works.
Get familiar with the facts. Here is a quick guide on hiring a sexual assault attorney.
Understand the Laws
Sexual assault includes a wide range of phenomena. Most people think that assault involves attempted or completed rape. This is true.
But sexual assault includes any non-consensual and sexual touching. Groping, kissing, and grinding count as sexual assault. Contacting the breasts, genitals, and buttocks in an inappropriate fashion also counts.
Some people coerce others into touching them or engaging in sexual activity. That is assault.
Sexual harassment can be different from sexual assault. Many organizations like the United Nations use harassment as an umbrella term. Assault falls under it, but harassment can constitute many other behaviors.
Harassment includes unwanted sexual looks, gestures, or comments. It includes pressure for dates or sexual favors.
The First Steps
You can get medical and legal help for assault or harassment. Get to safety as soon as an incident occurs. Seek medical attention and get full treatment for it.
A doctor may ask to administer a rape kit. This samples hair, saliva, and semen that are found on your person. You do not have to consent to this, or you can consent to certain parts of it.
You do not have to tell anyone else that you have been assaulted. If you need some time to process things or pursue counseling, you can. Take time for yourself.
There are resources for you. Crisis lines allow you to get help while staying anonymous. Online groups can offer additional support.
Talking to a Sexual Assault Lawyer
Lawyer-client confidentiality binds all attorneys. Any information you give to your attorney will remain with them.
Try talking to a lawyer as soon as you can. Give over anything you can provide to them.
An attorney can pursue a civil case and/or a criminal case. A civil case allows you to recover financial compensation. A criminal case subjects abusers to penalties, including jail time.
You do not have to initiate a civil case. Your sexual abuse attorney can start on a criminal case and pursue a civil case later. Two survivors of sexual assault sued their teacher for damages more than 40 years after their abuse; you can read on here.
You may or may not testify in court. The court will take precautions so you feel safe. As a case is ongoing, you can talk to your attorney about your desires and feelings.
Get the Help You Deserve
Many people feel isolated after a sexual assault. But help is there for you.
Any type of sexual abuse can lead to a criminal or civil case. Get help as soon as something happens to you. You can wait to file a lawsuit until you get medical attention and counseling.
A sexual assault lawyer will prepare a case for you. Cooperate when you can, but you can let them do your job. Consider your criminal and civil options through time.
The time for empowering sexual assault survivors is now. Follow our coverage for helpful guides.