Sexual Assault Awareness Month: What to Do After an Assault
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and GreeningLaw, P.C. wants to help by educating people about some of the steps they can take following an incident of sexual violence. This is important because these steps not only help to stay grounded emotionally during such a difficult time, they can also help to ensure that victims are properly compensated for the physical and emotional pain they have to endure as a result.
After an attack, it can be hard to know how to react. Survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence are often left physically injured, emotionally drained, and unsure what to do next. Usually, after an attack the primary focus is on healing. But what many survivors don’t realize is that sexual assault often leads to medical bills, lost wages, the need to relocate and other expenses, and a civil lawsuit can help pay for these expenses.
What Should Victims Do After a Sexual Assault?
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, recommends several steps victims of sexual assault can take, including:
1. Get immediate medical attention – After sexual assault, a medical exam can check for injuries, including ones you may not be able to see right away.
2. Get a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam – During a sexual assault forensic exam, a trained healthcare professional will collect DNA evidence, as well as clothes and other personal belongings (more about this below).
3. Report it to law enforcement – Understanding how to report an incident to law enforcement and learning more about the experience can take away some of the unknowns and help you feel more prepared.
4. Consider safety planning – These helpful tips on ways to stay safe may help reduce the risk of future harm and give victims some peace of mind.
5. Seek the support of a therapist – Seeking support from a therapist after sexual assault or abuse can help you deal with some of the challenges and the emotional toll that often accompanies these kinds of incidents.
What Is a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam?
Sexual assault forensic exams are typically performed by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). SANEs are registered nurses or nurse practitioners who have completed specialized training to assist sexual assault victims. They collect any relevant forensic evidence and perform physical exams.
Criteria for getting a SANE exam include:
1. Assault within 5 days (120 hours) unless only oral/anal penetration (then it must be performed within 24 hours)
2. Patient is 12 or older
3. Patient is medically cleared by ER physician or other health professional
4. Patient consents to the exam and evidence collection
A SANE exam is an important step after a sexual assault because collecting and interpreting physical evidence is critical for prosecuting criminal and civil cases. In addition, a SANE nurse can help coordinate additional treatment and testing, and they can even record the victim’s account of the assault and testify at any legal proceedings.
Civil Claims and Damages After a Sexual Assault
Whether your attacker has been found guilty in a criminal court or not, victims of sexual assault can file a civil suit. And a civil lawsuit is usually the only way a sexual assault victim can get monetary compensation for the physical and emotional pain you’ve suffered.
In addition, there is a reduced burden of proof when dealing with civil cases. Most people understand that a defendant in a criminal case must be found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” but not everyone realizes that to find a person liable in a civil action, the plaintiff only has to prove their case “by a preponderance of the evidence.” And while that may seem like a bunch of legal jargon, it has profound implications for civil cases. In fact, even when a defendant has been acquitted of criminal charges because the case did not meet the burden of proof, they can still be found liable in a civil trial.
Additional Parties Could Be Found Liable
In some cases, civil suits can also be brought against another party in addition to the perpetrator of the assault. For example, if the incident occurred at a place of business, school, church or other institution, the owner(s) of that property and/or employer of the perpetrator may also be found liable due to negligence.
GreeningLaw P.C. Can Help
At GreeningLaw P.C., we know that victims of sexual assault and sexual abuse face overwhelming physical and emotional challenges, and that’s why we’re here to help. Our experienced, compassionate team of attorneys cares about every client we represent, and we treat each case with the same respect and attention we would afford our own families.
If you have been the victim of sexual assault, harassment or other misconduct, please contact us for a free consultation. We will review the elements of your case, discuss the possible compensation you may receive, and suggest the best course of action. GreeningLaw P.C. also works on a contingency basis, so you don’t pay a thing unless you receive compensation for your case. As one of the most recognized personal injury law firms in the state, we know how to ensure that victims of sexual assault are properly compensated for their suffering.
We fight the legal battle so you have time for healing and renewal.
Call (972) 934-8900 or visit our contact page today.