Below are the steps to take to report child and adult sex abuse:
You may also be eligible to pursue a civil lawsuit for financial compensation. For a free case evaluation, work with an experienced sex abuse lawyer to discuss your situation. Sex abuse isn't just a woman's issue, men are also victims of sexual abuse. Learn more from our attorneys for male victims of sexual assault.
The trauma of a sexual assault extends far beyond the act itself. In the hours and days following an attack, many victims struggle with the decision of reporting the crime. If you're in this position, it's a decision only you can make, but you don't have to make it alone.
Some victims are afraid to open new wounds and would prefer to move past the incident. Others feel compelled to see their attacker punished and gain a sense of justice being served. What you do is up to you, but just know that you are not alone. Our experienced attorneys are here to help you through this extremely difficult time. We believe you, and we think your voice matters.
If you're having trouble making a decision, learning about what to expect can help. While it's understandable if you don't want to go through the stress of a criminal investigation or lawsuit, reporting these crimes can help get dangerous predators off the streets. Approximately 37% of convicted sex offenders strike again, but offenders who get away with their crimes are also likely to abuse or assault another victim. Reporting the crime can also be empowering for survivors, a step on the road to justice.
If an organization (such as a church, sports league, university, etc.) attempted to cover up your sexual assault or abuse, they also may be held accountable. A victims rights lawyer can help you file a lawsuit which can provide you and your family with the compensation you need, and also demand that the organization does more to prevent these crimes.
There are a few options for reporting a sexual assault. Choose whichever you feel the most comfortable with:
To find a reliable local health center which specializes in survivor care, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.
There are many reasons why victims may be hesitant to file a report:
It's normal to be overwhelmed by anxiety when contemplating a report for sexual assault. It may be helpful to speak with a close friend or family member about your concerns. Additionally, there are plenty of victims' advocate's groups available who can help you through the process, such as RAINN. You do not have to go this alone. If you need someone to join you on this journey, to provide a helping hand and compassionate ear, you can always reach out to our experienced sexual assault attorneys for guidance. We believe you.
If you have reason to believe that a child is being sexually abused, it's your responsibility as an adult to report it. You don't need hard evidence to make this claim - reasonable suspicion is enough to file a report. Examples of reasonable suspicion include:
In some states, you may be legally required to report suspected abuse. States have varying interpretations of mandatory reporting laws. In some states, any adult who works with children is considered a mandatory reporter. In other states, all adults are considered mandatory reporters.
Regardless of the laws in your states, you should not hesitate to say something if you suspect a child is being sexually abused. File a report with either child protective services or the police and include the following information:
If it's your own child being abused, the same principles apply. You may also wish to meet with a victims' rights lawyer who can help you take legal action against parties which allowed the abuse to happen or attempted to cover up evidence.
Yes, but there may be a time limit for pressing charges, depending on your state. Many states have no statute of limitations for these cases, but others may require you to file a report within a set number of years after you've turned 18 years old. Beyond the statutory hurdles, the emotional barriers to reporting can seem overwhelming. We believe that you have the power inside yourself to step forward and speak your truth.
In these cases, lawsuits may be more effective than criminal investigations simply because the burden of proof is lower. Since so much time has passed, it may be difficult to provide physical evidence. However, testimony may still be enough to warrant a successful verdict, especially if there were multiple victims. If you're in this situation, it may be helpful to discuss your options with a child sexual abuse victims' lawyer.