In the past three decades, especially since 2000, child sexual assault has become a major focus for governments and private organizations around the world. The revelations that the Catholic Church was engaged in a massive cover-up of child abuse was only one part of the growing awareness of child sexual assault, according to Reuters. Now, laws are changing, and governments are taking a much harsher stand against child sexual assault (CSA) and making it easier for victims to come forward.
If you were a victim of child sexual assault or if your loved one experienced abuse, consider a Washington, DC child sexual assault lawyer to help you seek justice. Recent law changes may have made it easier for you to come forward and file a civil lawsuit against your abuser. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 794-0444 for legal advice and guidance.
Signs of Child Sexual Assault
Identifying CSA and victims can be difficult given the secretive nature of the crime. Coupled with the fact that most victims never report, cases can remain uninvestigated. There are several signs that you can look for that may signal child sexual assault. These signs include:
- Sudden personality changes: If a child has a major change in their personality that leans more toward a withdrawn or aggressive personality, it may be in response to the sexual assault.
- Withdrawing from social activities: Children that are active but suddenly withdraw from social situations may be responding to a traumatic event.
- Overly sad or aggressive personalities: Children that experience trauma tends to be overly expressive in their emotions. They also gravitate toward aggression as a coping method.
- Unexplained injuries: New injuries that the child cannot explain may be a sign of abuse.
- An extreme dislike of being touched: Children that suddenly develop an extreme aversion to being touched may be reacting to trauma.
- Avoiding a specific person: If a child is abused, that child will try to avoid that abuser if possible. If you see that your child is trying to avoid a specific person, that person may have sexually abused your child.
- Diseases or pregnancy: A child that contracts an STD or STI or becomes pregnant is likely suffering from sexual abuse. Seeking medical treatment is paramount in this circumstance.
There are other signs of child sexual assault that are not covered on this list. If you believe that someone you know is showing any of these signs, seek professional help as soon as possible. Early intervention can prevent future problems from developing, and children that survive CSA are prone to developing more severe mental health and behavioral health conditions later in life.
Prevalence of Child Sexual Assault
Since the vast majority of cases often go unreported, making it difficult to investigate and hold abusers responsible. Fortunately, recent changes in the law are helping to uncover more cases. With these changes, authorities expect an increase in criminal and civil cases as more victims find the courage to come forward.
Statute of Limitations
One area that has seen substantial change revolves around the statute of limitations for CSA. Typical statutes of limitations for personal injury cases make it difficult for victims to come forward within the allotted time frame. This is because, in some cases, victims feel so ashamed that they refuse to confront the fact that they experienced the abuse at all. Others may fear retaliation or simply do not want to relive the trauma by going through the legal process.
In order to increase victim’s access to justice, some states are considering legislation changes, and several have already made those changes, according to the Associated Press. For victims, this is likely the best time to come forward and hold their abusers accountable.
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The victims of child sexual assault continue to have problems coming forward and reporting what happened; however, the public’s attitude regarding CSA and victims has changed substantially. Much of this change has to do with the discovery of the Church cover-up and major leaps forward in understanding CSA. The Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America found that survivors of CSA usually experience behavioral and even medical complications in adulthood as well.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other major organizations are focused on improving preventative measures to protect children. The response by law enforcement has also changed substantially. Cover-ups are no longer acceptable, and law enforcement agencies around the world are adopting a no-tolerance policy regarding CSA. Even the Catholic Church, which was involved in an extensive cover-up operation, has adopted new policies to report and investigate child abuse within its ranks. All of these changes make it a better time for victims to come forward. Although it is still hard to do so, there is widespread support to help them hold abusers accountable.
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If you or a loved one is a victim of child sexual assault, then consider how a Washington, DC child sexual assault lawyer can help you explore your legal options. You do not need to suffer in silence without taking legal action. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 794-0444 to discuss your case.